Off the record

Double bonanza
The Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand never had it so good. In a span of two days, the region has given two chief ministers. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat as well as his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath hail from the district. Both count Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University as their alma mater. While Rawat studied journalism, Adityanath was a student of mathematics.

Rawat was born in the district’s Khairasain village in December 1960, while Adityanath was born as Ajay Singh Bisht in Panchur village in June 1972. Rawat rose through the ranks in the RSS and later in the BJP. He is learnt to have known Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the time the latter was national secretary (organisation) of the BJP. Rawat was also involved in the BJP’s election campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in UP where his work was appreciated by Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Twist in tale
This was certainly an elevation his supporters never wanted. Supporters of Uttar Pradesh BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya — who was instrumental in taking the saffron party to new heights in the state in the just concluded Assembly polls — had a heartbreak when their leader missed the UP chief minister’s chair by a whisker. The supporters, who were confident that Maurya would be made the CM, had cold water poured on their hopes when Amit Shah said that Maurya would be choosing the man for the post. “How can I choose myself as the chief minister?” Maurya asked. He took ill that day and was hospitalised for a brief period with complaint of low blood pressure. The soothing balm came late on Saturday afternoon, when people learned that he would be the deputy CM. “We did not expect this,” remarked a supporter.
Sanjay Pandey, Lucknow

Glum Sidhu
His ministerial debut notwithstanding, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu “isn’t too pleased” with the way his new innings has rolled out. His hopes of being a deputy chief minister in Punjab have been grounded. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh “put his foot down” saying there’s no need for the post, at least for now. The former BJP MP had to be content with cabinet portfolios given to him that are arguably not the best of the lot. 

Sidhu is a four-time MP and a first-time MLA. During the oath taking ceremony held last Thursday, Sidhu was the third in order to be sworn in as a cabinet minister, preceded by a six-time Congress MLA. However, he continues to hold on to his ‘signature laughter.’ For how long, we wonder.
Gautam Dheer, Chandigarh

Master of many trades
Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Sindhu may be unhappy that he could not get the post of Punjab chief minister or even deputy chief minister, though he has been made a minister in the Amarinder Singh government. But for footballer Nongthombam Biren Singh, who is the country’s first chief minister to have been a career sportsman before he became a politician, it’s all smiles.

BJP’s Biren Singh has worn several hats. He was 18 years old when he was spotted by the Border Security Force (BSF) officials at a football match in Imphal. He joined the BSF team and was the first Manipuri footballer to play outside the state. He was part of the BSF team that won the Durand Cup defeating Kolkata team Mohun Bagan in 1981. He quit the team a year later, but play­ed for 10 more years for the Manipur state team. In 1992, Biren began his second career as a journalist. He joined the Congress in 2003 and served as minister in charge of many departments. He was a long time close aide of former CM Okram Ibobi Singh. The two leaders parted ways when Biren was left out of the cabinet after the 2012 elections.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Penguin politics
The Shiv Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), one of the largest civic bodies of the country, opened an enclosure for Humboldt penguins at the Mumbai zoo. The new attraction, which was inaugurated for public viewing by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, is the brainchild of his son and Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray.

However, politics has broken out over the choice of names for the penguins housed in the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan enclosure. The BMC has named the Humboldt penguins Donald, Daisy, Olive, Popeye, Bubble, Flipper and Mr Molt. One penguin, which died recently, was named Dory. “We strongly protest these Western names and demand that they should be renamed with good Indian names,” said ex-BMC Leader of Opposition Pravin Chheda of the Congress.
Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai

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