off the record

Babbar’s love for the Badals

Amitabh Bachchan may have been pilloried by the Congress for maintaining close proximity to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. But in Punjab, his Bollywood mate and Congress MP Raj Babbar has escaped the party’s notice for publicly singing paeans of the Congress’ main rivals, the Badals from the Akali Dal.

Babbar, while promoting his television serial made on the life of Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab, has been praising the leadership of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal.

He has even appeared in promotional advertisements on Punjabi channels praising Sukhbir for showing exemplary leadership qualities in organising the first world kabaddi championship in Punjab.

State Congressmen remain tight-lipped on the utterances of Babbar, MP from UP, in praising the Badals.

However, Babbar’s love for the Badals may have stemmed from more extraneous reasons. With his serial due for telecast from April 14, he would be anxious for its hassle-free telecast in Punjab, where a majority of cable networks are run on government’s mercy and patronage.

Rajesh Deol, Chandigarh

All in Soren’s family

“Kahe to sabe koi aapan, aapan kahaye wala ke baa... (No dearth of many near and dear for us, but none is actually to call our own). In a sense, the popular Bhojpuri song seems to have come true for Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren — looking for a safe seat to become a MLA.

However, with barely three months left to fulfil the constitutional obligation, Soren is apparently caught in a catch-22 situation — largely because of his son Hemant and daughter-in-law Sita Soren’s reluctance to sacrifice their seats considered to be the JMM’s pocket boroughs. While the senior Soren received a strong rebuttal from his son Hemant after he laid bare his wishes to contest the elections from Dumka, efforts by the JMM’s allies to persuade Sita Soren to quit the Jama seat for her father-in-law are yet to bear fruits.

Sita’s mysterious silence has left Soren guessing, even as he has completed 100 days in office. Initially, Sita had agreed to step down for Soren. But she suddenly left for an undisclosed destination. On her return, Shibu Soren engaged his cabinet colleague Sudha Chaudhary to persuade his daughter-in-law to make the sacrifice. However, Sita is learnt to have demanded a post of chairperson for a government board or ‘nigam’ in lieu of vacating the Jama seat.

On the other hand, the buzz is Soren’s son Hemant is eying the chief minister’s chair.
However, in the hurly burly of state politics, Guruji, as Shibu Soren is know in political circles, has found support from unexpected quarters. JD(U)’s Tamar legislator Raja Peter who trounced Soren in January 2008 in a bypoll to Tamar seat by an impressive margin as Jharkhand Party (JP) nominee has offered to quit the seat for Soren.

Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

Gyan on  patriotism

That, Air Marshal P K Barbora, vice-chief of the Air Staff is a man known for his outspoken words is now well known across the nation. The air marshal was here, in the City to attend a national seminar on ‘The Frontiers of Aeronautical Technologies’ on Saturday.
During his address, he remarked that in his observation, Indians are less patriotic about their nation. “I observed during the playing of the national anthem, that most people just stand up, as if to perform a ritual. In many countries, people sing along their national anthem aloud with pride or hold their hand on their chest in military style discipline.
Unless citizens have a national feeling, the country will not prosper”, he said and remarked that Indians have a lot of catching up to do on the patriotism front, unlike their Europeans, Chinese and Japanese counterparts.

S Praveen Dhaneshkar, Bangalore

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