Off the record


Mahi, mausam, management

Fame wins favour, and it seems team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s charisma has had telling effects on his home state’s electorate like never before. After a meagre 53 per cent turn out in the  Lok Sabha elections, the five phases of Assembly election in Jharkhand concluded on December 18 with a total of over 58 per cent electorate exercising their franchises.

However, among the one engrossing aspect this time was a special 20-second video capsule of the Election Commission showing Dhoni playing some cricket shots and then going on to appealing voters not to miss the chance to exercise votes.

Mahi (as Dhoni is nicknamed) or mausam (weather) or management of EC, what according to you, acted as catalyst in the surge of voting percentage? Joint chief electoral officer AK Sinha says: “Mahi is an icon of Jharkhand. He connects very well with people. So, EC chose to rope him in, for we expected his appealed to be noticed.”

“Whatever it be, the good response from the people is a healthy sign,” said Sinha.
Interestingly, a whopping 58.13 per cent polling was recorded in  the final round for 16 seats which fell under extremist-infested areas. Will a party or a coalition of parties muster a clear majority? Will there be stable future government? One will not have to wait long for the answers now. The votes would be counted on December 23.

Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

White lies and black deeds

When Mamata Banerjee’s White Paper on Railways painted Lalu Prasad black, one person who could not hide his glee was Lalu’s predecessor at Rail Bhawan – Nitish Kumar.

The Bihar Chief Minister, who served as Railway Minister during Vajpayee’s regime, said the White Paper had exposed Lalu’s ‘safed jhoot’ (white lies) on a turnaround story for the Railways.

“The statistics shown by my successor at Rail Bhawan was a farce as the profits had been orchestrated by jugglery of figures at the cost of passengers,” averred Nitish, adding that Lalu had systematically looted passengers through tatkal tickets and levying additional ‘super-fast charges’ by renaming mail trains as super-fast trains.

“How could a man who destroyed Bihar for 15 long years transform the Railways in five years?” wondered Nitish. “Very soon you will come to know whether Harvard University and IBM came on their own to meet him or were called in to add to his vain glory,” he quipped.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

A revamp for other reasons

Reports relating to revamping the AICC is something that is often read in newspapers but never seen in action. The reconstitution of the present office-bearers of the Congress has been making the rounds for quite some time – after the Lok Sabha elections – but has not been effected so far.

Now, both the AICC general secretaries who have been made ministers and those who are not, are said to be impressing upon Congress president Sonia Gandhi to reshuffle the pack. Those who are ministers – A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappa Moily – want party responsibility taken off while those who are not ministers want a reshuffle. According to insiders, those who are not ministers but want a reshuffle are nursing a grievance that they are not taken seriously. They want all office-bearers to be non-ministers.

Antony, Azad and Moily, who are general secretaries, say party work is an additional burden because of the heavy ministries they hold. Others like Prithviraj Chavan, in charge of Haryana and J&K, holds too many portfolios -- PMO, Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Personnel and Pensions.
B S Arun, New Delhi

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