Off the record

Last Updated 29 November 2020, 20:32 IST

Quid pro quo?

The Indian Union Muslim League, a key coalition partner of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala, is left shamefaced as three leaders of the party are now facing serious allegations. Former minister V K Ebrahim Kunju was arrested on corruption charges, MLA M C Kamaruddin was arrested by the police for allegedly cheating investors in his jewellery business and K M Shaji MLA faced a vigilance probe for allegedly accepting a bribe from a school. Ebrahim Kunju and Shaji were also under the ED scanner. In a recent press conference, party senior leader and Lok Sabha MP P K Kunhalikutty, while alleging that the cases against party MLAs were politically motivated, commented that when the UDF was in power, many such complaints had popped up against left front leaders but the UDF had not initiated cases. This statement has been widely dubbed on social media as a quid pro quo.

Arjun Raghunath, Thiruvananthapuram

Rare praise

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to vaccine manufacturing units over the weekend has brought out generational differences in the Congress. While young Congress leaders mocked the Prime Minister’s visit to vaccine makers Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech as a “fancy dress” event, veteran leader Anand Sharma hailed it as a recognition of the achievement of scientists. Sharma said the PM’s visit would lift the morale of the frontline warriors and reassure the nation – rich praise from a person who earlier lost no opportunity to criticise the Prime Minister. Sharma, who is among the 233 dissenters in the Congress, also urged the PM to ensure that an efficient and equitable platform is functional as the vaccine arrives.

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi

Diamond rush

Social media posts about some glittering stones at Wakching village in Mon district in Nagaland triggered a rush among villagers last week to dig up stones on the hills, suspecting these to be diamonds. There was so much of a rush that the Nagaland government had to send in a team of geologists to the coal mining site. An investigation suggested that the “diamond rush” has arisen after some traders in Assam bought those glittering stones for lakhs of rupees from villagers and spread rumours that these stones were diamond. Geologists, who carried out a study at said that the stones were quartz, not diamonds. Quartz is far cheaper than diamond, but it still has some use. Although the rush at the site has reduced, people continue to dig up other stones on the hills, in search of “costly materials”.

Sumir Karmakar, Guwahati.

Changing loyalties

The other day, Junaid Mattu became the mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for the second time after winning the mayoral elections. Mattu was removed as the SMC mayor in June after he lost a no-confidence motion moved against him by some corporators. He had then claimed that the BJP and National Conference had joined hands in Srinagar to remove him. Interestingly, he had won the 2018 elections with the BJP’s support. However, immediately after sitting on the ‘hot-seat’, Mattu, who was formerly associated with the National Conference and People’s Conference, joined Apni Party, which is believed to be a proxy of the BJP. Mattu, who returned from the US barely a decade ago to join politics, has a history of changing parties and ‘loyalties’ at will. Some compare him with late Ram Vilas Paswan, who knew the ‘art’ of changing friends and ‘loyalties’ to remain relevant in politics.

Zulfikar Majid, Srinagar

Pawar’s humour

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who will turn 80 next month, has a subtle sense of humour. Often, he displays it on public platforms and sends people to peals of laughter. Last week, senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Raosaheb Patil-Danve said the BJP government will be formed in the state in the next two to three months as the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will collapse. However, in a lighter vein Pawar gave a befitting reply. “Raosaheb Patil-Danve has been an MP and politician for years but I didn’t know of this quality of his. In politics, he was never known as a ‘jyotishi’ but now I know that he has this talent too,” he said.

Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai

(Published 29 November 2020, 19:02 IST)

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