off the record

Maran’s ‘lift’ to  democracy

For Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran, using a lift alone is not democratic when there is enough space to accommodate more people inside the elevator.

Recently, while Maran was rushing to the lift at the FICCI building in Delhi to attend a meeting there, some scribes standing outside tried to accompany him in the elevator.
One of the ministerial staff escorting Maran asked the scribes to use the stairs instead of using the elevator along with the minister.

Sensing the sensitivity of the scribes, Maran immediately got into damage control exercise saying: “Please allow them to come with me. There is enough space in the lift. Some of my media friends can come with me. After all it is a democracy.”

“After all you feel quite lonely in an empty elevator,” he said smilingly asking scribes to accompany him.

Aditya Raj Das, New Delhi

Rahul vs Gandhi

Bihar, it seems, is now on Rahul Gandhi’s radar. A fortnight after the ‘babalog’ (as Rahul’s brigade in the party and the government are popularly known), including Sachin Pilot, Jiten Prasad and Priya Dutt, visited Bihar to launch the ambitious Youth Congress membership drive in the state, the Congress heir apparent is now personally visiting this part of the cow-belt to get a first-hand account of the political affairs.

The AICC general secretary, who is keen to infuse a new lease of life in the moribund Bihar Congress, will begin his two-day Bihar tour on February 1 from Bhitarwa Ashram in Champaran. The ‘symbolism’ could hardly be missed. After all, it was Mahatma Gandhi who had launched the Champaran movement (also called indigo movement) against the Britishers from this place in 1919. Ninety years down the line, the young Congress leader intends to wage a battle against the Bihar troika — Lalu, Paswan and Nitish — from Champaran.

Rahul, who is keen to cleanse politics and encourage young and talented youths to join the political mainstream, is firm on screening the entry of people with criminal antecedents at the very entry point in Congress politics ie, Youth Congress. “Moreover, he wants to reiterate the relevance of Gandhian thought in modern-day politics. Hence he chose Champaran to begin with,” said a senior party functionary entrusted with the task of providing inputs for his itinerary.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Channel wars touch new low

The 50th edition of the Kerala State Schools Youth Festival held in Kozhikode recently stood out for being relatively free of complaints and litigation. However,  it was the Malayalam television channels which hijacked the festival and opened up new vistas in indecency and impropriety in their mad rush to catch eyeballs.

From making participants perform first at their makeshift studios before they took the original stage and taking them for a ride to different locales,  the channels made the contestants dance to their tune. Some good things did happen too. If one sting operation exposed judges taking money,  another ‘hit back’ with a report on rackets dealing in fake certificates.

However,  it was during the grand finale that the channels showed their true colours.
Throwing to wind their ‘truce’ to cover the victory run of the winning team commonly, the channels vied with each other to get the winners holding the replica of the cup in their studios. The result was a big melee starting from the very dais of the valedictory function which ended with the trophy breaking into pieces! Even chief guest K J Yesudas was stunned by the ugly turn of events.

R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram

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