Off the record: 24 May

Off the record: 24 May

Yechury’s draft

The Friday meeting of joint Opposition saw 22 like-minded parties in attendance. Top leaders from Sonia Gandhi to Sharad Pawar attended the meeting. Also, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray and Hemant Soren attended the meeting. In the end, the leaders came out with a strong joint statement with 11 action points. Six out of eight points raised by CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury found a place in the joint statement. Two of them--on communal profiling and arrest of protesters as well as release of political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir--did not make it to the joint statement as the leaders were of the view that they should stick to the Covid-19 response at present and these issues could be taken up later. A senior leader said it was Yechury who drafted the joint statement as the meeting progressed but it was later read out by Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, to ensure that Trinamool Congress, an archrival of CPI(M), did not feel slighted.

Shemin Joy, New Delhi

A musical CM 

Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, a video of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma playing an Iron Maiden song on his electric guitar drew attention on social media platforms. Sangma, who was earlier seen playing football, played the iconic song “Wasted Years” of the English heavy metal band. “After a hectic 3 day Assembly session…unwinding with some Iron Maiden stuff. It’s been a long while I haven’t played so I guess a few mistakes,” wrote Sangma, after posting the video on his Instagram on Friday evening. The video has already been liked by hundreds and shared by many.

Sumir Karmakar, Guwahati

Above rules?

Bhopal is in the red zone for Covid-19, and the administration is very strict about enforcing social distancing norm. But BJP workers flagrantly violated the norm in presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other party leaders. A former minister Prabhuram Choudhary, who left the Congress with Jyotiraditya Scindia, led a crowd of his 200 supporters from neighbouring Raisen district to the state BJP headquarters in Bhopal on Saturday. They boisterously joined the party in presence of the chief minister. Within an hour photographs of the function showing BJP workers jostling to come close to Chouhan flashed on social media. Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath wondered aloud whether the norm of the social distancing is applicable for only the poor and whether BJP workers are above it. A BJP spokesperson admitted the violation, attributing it to over-enthusiasm of some workers. 

Rakesh Dixit, Bhopal 

Off with her head?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is known for her mercurial temper. But on Saturday she seemed to be not just a bit angry but also exasperated due to the double stress of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak and cyclone Amphan. Annoyed with the agitations in several parts of Kolkata and other affected districts Banerjee said that, “you can either have patience or cut off my head!” She said that all Government officials were working round the clock and one should remember that they are also human beings. Taking a swipe at Opposition leaders, she said, “you will all have a lot of opportunities to do politics against me during elections. But please don’t do politics in a crisis situation.”

Soumya Das, Kolkata

Showing the way!

India’s stars are supplementing the efforts of Centre and state governments in many ways in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. But, one who stands out, is Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. The 46-year-old has hit the ground and is making all efforts to help out stranded migrants by organising buses to send people to their hometowns. He replied on Twitter to each request and promised to be with “brothers and sisters till the last one reaches their home.” When a person wanted to contribute, Sonu just tweeted, “don’t worry. I am there. Just feed a migrant somewhere with that money. They need us.” 

Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai