Off the record

Victim of own aerobatics

Simultaneously hunting with the hound and running with the hare is one of the most difficult forms of art and diplomacy. It is also the most dangerous.

When JMM chief Shibu Soren, who is also Dumka MP, voted in favour of the UPA during the cut motion, in the Lok Sabha, he hardly had the inkling about the reaction to his action from the BJP — which helped install his state government about four months back.

Soren’s move is widely believed to pummel coalition partner BJP to accept his son Hemant Soren as chief minister. For a change, as the move boomeranged, written apologies came thick and fast from the chief minister to cover up the fiasco.

Nonetheless, the sword of Damocles continues to hang precarious over the fate of the Soren government.

In March 2005, he virtually usurped the CM’s gaddi even when the arithmetic of the House was heavily loaded against him. However, he had to exit as his government short-lived for barely nine days.

The veteran JMMite became a victim of his own action as he chose to contest the bypoll from Tamar — a bastion of the Mundas, arch rivals of the Santhalis, the tribal group Soren belongs to.

According to insiders, the then Jamatara legislator Vishunu Bhaiya wanted some favour in lieu of vacating his seat in the region known to be the stronghold of Santhali tribes. But Soren turned down the demand flatly.

“Bitah bachye gaile, gaaj harke aaileh (Lost kingdom for saving next to nothing) — so goes an old saying in Bhojpuri, probably more aptly and succinctly describing Soren’s political affairs now.

Sandeep Bhaskar, Ranchi

CPM’s bitter pills

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has issued a new prescription for the ills that plague God’s Own Country. “Kerala does not need an IPL team. It is not cricket, but business,’’ he told newsmen last week. When the CEO of the CPM declares something like that, state leaders of his party have no option but to toe his line and not utter a word in support of IPL.

For long, Karat and Co have anointed themselves as custodians of Kerala’s consciousness but not of any other part of the country, not even West Bengal. Will Karat dare tell his West Bengal comrades to adopt a similar approach towards Kolkata Knight Riders?

To the uninitiated, this was the second such ‘prescription’ in recent times to come from the top guns in the CPM.

Remember the party’s directive to the Achuthanandan government to dumb Amitabh Bachchan after inviting him to be the brand ambassador of Kerala tourism?

The state had to forego not just its face before the world but considerable mileage that Big B would have brought to Kerala by promoting the state.

R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram

Wrong number

The ‘efficiency’ of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is well-known. But in Bihar, it had the audacity to remind the Chief Justice of Patna High Court to pay the bill to avoid disconnection.

Judges come under the ‘exempted category’ in which normal disconnection procedure for outstanding bills is not followed. But BSNL committed a harakiri by sending pre-recorded reminders to judges, including the CJ.

The judges were livid as the bills had already been paid. Soon, a top functionary of the BSNL was called, who, in turn, spoke to the chief accounts officer. Instructions were issued to Kolkata office, where the billing service is located, to stop all auto-generated reminders to customers in Patna.

“The goof-up was due to the migration of the BSNL’s billing software from DOT-SOFT to CDR. But under no circumstances reminders should have been sent to the subscribers without generation of bill in the new system which came into effect from April 12,” admitted an apologetic senior BSNL official, in his bid to assuage the ruffled feathers of judges.

Abhay Kumar, Patna

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