Off the record

‘Power’ struggle

Locked in a bitter electoral battle for power in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav traded a series of sarcastic remarks over power supply to Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi. The sharp exchange between the two leaders extended to ‘Ma Ganga’ and Lord Shiva also.

It all began when Modi, at an election rally, said that his constituency was not getting round-the-clock power supply. Akhilesh quickly countered the charge and asked Modi to swear by river Ganga if his allegation was true. He said that Modi often addressed it as ‘Ma Ganga’ and would not lie if he swore by its name. On Saturday the power supply to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi was interrupted when Akhilesh and his wife Dimple Yadav were having darshan there. Modi pounced on it and said that he did not need to swear by ‘Mother Ganga’ now as Lord Shiva had done his job.
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

Dose of Mamata

At a time when the prices of stent and other medical devices are in a big row, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has chosen to administer an unusual, strong dosage of her acerbic best. Armed with a dossier on private hospitals, she called a meeting with their top heads for a televised event and gave them a tongue-lashing.

“Is the kidney racket still going on in your hospital?” she asked a top hospital honcho. “Why is your billing so exorbitant that the patient is forced to take law unto their own hands,” she questioned another. Yet another hospital head, she warned saying, “I have reports that patients are being forced into life support system to fleece money.”  Many of them were found fumbling for an answer. She said she was forced to act now as her government bears the expenditure of the treatment of MLAs, many of whom are reporting sick to get treated in private hospitals! Perhaps, other chief ministers can take a cue from her and act on erring hospitals.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

In adulation

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s literary prowess appears to have the potential to charm people on the other side of the political divide, too. At a book launch function heavy with the Sangh Parivar ambience, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar couldn’t resist praising Tharoor. He said the latter’s book An Era of Darkness — The British Empire was such a captivating read, that he called his colleague from the Opposition in Lok Sabha and congratulated him. None in the crowd, such as senior RSS functionary Dattatreya Hosabale who was seated on the dais, frowned at Javadekar’s gesture.
Dalip Singh, New Delhi

Failed revolt 

What was expected to be a “cabinet expansion” in Jammu and Kashmir recently, actually saw a reduction in the number of ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti-led government. While Altaf Bukhari was inducted as minister, two others, Basharat Bukhari and Imran Ansari, resigned as a mark of protest pleading that their “interests were not met in the cabinet reshuffle.”

Interestingly, however, Basharat Bukhari, called on Mehbooba expressing his “willingness to work on previously decided terms and conditions.” Ansari, too, played a similar move. But while Mehbooba asked Bukhari to resume office as minister on “purani tankhaw” (previous remuneration), Ansari was left high and dry. This mystery over their resignation has left people guessing: if the ministers were ready to continue working on previously decided salary, why would they go ahead with their resistance, only to surrender to the chief minister’s demands later?
Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

Chautalas ‘uncovered’

The Badals in Punjab and the Chautalas in Haryana have long been close pals, which is perhaps why the Punjab government took extra care to provide security cover to former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s family. But that is not the case anymore. The government, it is learnt, has withdrawn the security cover to the Chautalas. Nearly three dozen security personnel had been deployed in escort and to secure their properties in Harya­na, New Delhi and elsewhere.

The Chautala father-elder son duo are serving a 10-year jail term for their conviction in the infamous teacher recruitment scam in Haryana. Om Prakash Chautala is currently out on parole. The Badal-Chautala families have shared a good rapport for decades despite all the political disagreements and manifested discord over contentious issues, including the controversial SYL canal. The withdrawal of security cover to the Chautalas has now become a bone of contention inviting the Oppositions’ criticism.
Gautam Dheer, Chandigarh

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