Off the record: November 29

Off the record

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan a CPI(M) felicitation function. PTI

Learning from the past?

In 2017, actor Vijay’s ‘Mersal’ film had mentioned GST. The BJP unit in TN demanded the deletion of scenes that made a reference to GST, making it a national issue that served as indirect publicity for the movie. Cut to 2021, BJP seems to have learnt lessons. The new party chief K Annamalai, ex-Karnataka IPS officer, has instructed his colleagues not to raise objections on movies unless they misrepresent a true incident. His appeal came after a leader from the BJP demanded the banning of T R Silambarasan-starrer ‘Manadu’ which was released last week for trying to foment trouble between Hindus and Muslims. Not just learning from the past, Annamalai seems to have also saved his party from being trolled on social media.

ETB Sivapriyan, Chennai

‘Preity’ apologetic 

Veteran actor Sanjay Khan failed to recognise actress and model Preity Zinta during an international flight. However, after he realised what happened, the 80-year-old Khan, in a gentlemanly gesture, tendered an apology. Khan, a Bengaluru resident, posted a tweet on the incident, showering praises. “Dear a gentleman I thought it’s my duty to apologise that I couldn’t recognise you when my daughter Simone introduced you on a flight to Dubai. Only if Zinta was uttered I would have remembered you as I have seen many of your films with your beautiful face,” he said.

Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai 

Unusual dinner 

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma hosted an unusual dinner in New Delhi on Thursday, which his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga took part in. It was one of the first such meets since July when the two CMs engaged in a war of words on Twitter, after six Assam policemen were gunned down by their counterparts in Mizoram at Lailapur over Assam-Mizoram border dispute. The two CMs even tagged union home minister Amit Shah in their posts blaming each other for the violence. Zoramthanga reportedly even did not take the calls of Sarma after the Twitter spat. “We had a nice dinner and lively evening,” Sarma tweeted on Thursday at Assam Bhawan, New Delhi. On Friday, the two CMs met Shah to carry forward talks to find a solution to the decades-old border conflict.

Sumir Karmakar, Guwahati

CM’s silence

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would conduct hour-long press conferences on most days, briefing the media about government welfare initiatives and also listing names of those who had contributed to the Chief Minister Disaster Relief Fund. These conferences had invited criticism and appreciation. Now it is Vijayan’s silence that is raising eyebrows. Despite a series of allegations against the government -- like providing permission to Tamil Nadu to cut trees at Mullaperiyar dam site, a CPM local leader illegally surrendering his grandchild for adoption and a police officer being held responsible by a woman who ended her life, Vijayan has maintained silence. He doesn’t seem keen on holding any press conferences these days. This seems to be his strategy of biding time for the rows to fizzle out.

Arjun Raghunath, Thiruvananthapuram

Eye on the prize

Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat may have taken the lead in campaigning in the state with an eye on the top post after elections. However, Congress high command appears to have different plans. The party has filled the state unit and election managers with generation next leaders, sending a message to 73-year-old Rawat about its thoughts on leadership. In the 2017 elections, Rawat had contested from two assembly seats and lost miserably, causing much embarrassment. Rawat is betting on the lack of popular faces within the state unit in his quest to make a comeback. The mass exodus of Congress leaders to the BJP camp before the 2017 elections may prove beneficial for him.

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi 

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