Off the record

Bache Gowda’s out of focus

Almost as if he was not content with all the attention he had attracted after allegedly assaulting a Bangalore-based realtor for overtaking his official car on a highway, State Labour Minister Bache Gowda wanted some more attention.

Addressing a gathering at the Institute of Engineers (India), Karnataka Centre, on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Sir M Visvesvaraya, Gowda exhibited his wit again.
In the middle of reading out a ‘ready-made speech’, Gowda, addressing the camera person who had moved on to capture images of others in the Hall, said: “Oye mari ‘focus’ illi madu (boy focus here).”

What followed was a huge roar of laughter from the packed auditorium.

Of course, Gowda had more to say. And he did say: “the light here is insufficient so I just wanted some more to complete my speech.”

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore

Televised debate

Kerala successfully imbibed a new democratic tradition from the West last week when the ruling LDF and opposition UDF faced each other in an interesting televised public debate on a raging controversy — the lottery mafia. It was Finance Minister Thomas Isaac who threw the gauntlet at opposition leader Oommen Chandy to face him at the Thiruvananthapuram Press Club.

It was widely felt that by daring Chandy, Isaac was only trying to evade a confrontation with Congress legislator V D Satheesan who had brought up the issue in the Assembly. However, with the opposition in a no-nonsense mood, Isaac had no other way but to give in and engage Satheesan himself.

The 90-minute debate which was moderated by Press Club office-bearers was telecast live by all leading Malayalam news channels. Both speakers came armed with files and documents and took turns to raise questions and rebut charges. However, at the end of the debate, few — including channels which held opinion polls — were left in doubt as to who had won the duel. Satheesan had a clear upper hand though Isaac made a commendable fightback. Yet, the high viewership meant that it was only the TV channels which benefited as no solution could be found to check the lottery mafia.

R Gopakumar, Thiru’puram


The allegation of match-fixing has shifted from the cricket field to Bihar’s political turf.

It all began when former Union civil aviation minister and BJP’s national spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain accused the Congress of being hand in glove with the RJD and the LJP.

“The grand old party is officially contesting alone on all the 243 seats but the match is already ‘fixed’ with Lalu and Paswan. Lalu has given a letter of support to the President and the Congress has ensured a front row seat to the leader of the 4-MP party in the Lok Sabha, which he is not entitled as he has neither the numbers nor is he an ex-PM,” said the BJP MP.

Not prepared to take such uncharitable accusations lying down, the RJD shot back. “The match is actually fixed between the Congress and the BJP. This became clear after Narendra Modi was let off in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case,” said Lalu’s closest aide and Rajya Sabha member Ram Kripal Yadav.

Rattled over baseless allegations, Congress too decided to ‘clear the air’. “The match is actually fixed between Bade Bhai (read: Lalu) and Chote Bhai (read: Nitish). After all, instead of criticising each other, both the leaders are nowadays targeting their common enemy —the Congress, which is on upsurge,” said firebrand Congress leader and ex-BPCC chief Ram Jatan Sinha.

off the record

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