All stage managed
What better way to get over a pasting at the hustings than to turn to a bit of high culture. BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani hosted ‘Tulsidas’, a mono-act musical play, enacted and directed by Shekhar Sen, at his Prithviraj Road residence. In attendance were a number of BJP MPs who turned up, the stars being Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh. The play is about the pious soul of Goswami Tulsidas, who comes to earth for a day and tells his own story. Seeing the poor people of India exploited due to their ignorance of religion, the play shows Tulsidas inspired to write the Ramayan in Awadhi (a dialect of Hindi). A ready reckoner for the party?
On the House
Five days into this session of Parliament, many of our notoriously work-averse MPs are an unhappy lot. And the government has refused to call a separate winter session, as is customary. The 14th session of the 14th Lok Sabha has made history as the longest so far. But some in this august institution are laughing all the way to the bank. The Parliament staff get a session allowance of up to Rs 1,000 per month. There are 2,500 of them in the Lok Sabha and 1,500 in the Rajya Sabha secretariat. We’ll leave the maths to you.
It’s party time
Camaraderie clearly begins at home for the new Home Minister. P. Chidambaram has been making soothing noises to the BJP, the UPA’s new-found ally on terror, going to the extent of conveying a message to L.K. Advani not to take amiss Kapil Sibal’s rather aggressive speech in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the terror bills. Chidambaram informed Advani that Sibal’s demand that he apologise for the Kandahar hijack episode was not that of the government. Also, when former Law Minister Arun Jaitley noticed a lacuna in the draft Unlawful Activities (Amendment) Bill, he sent word quietly to Chidambaram, who promptly carried out the correction by bringing in an amendment. Well, till the next issue do us a-party.
Third, but not heard
The ‘humble farmer’, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda is a man of conviction. But few share his belief that ‘Third Front’ forces will form the next government at the Centre. Least of all, the cynical media. Not one to be put down, he is asking the media to put their mouths where their money is by plying them with sumptuous snacks and meals. But alas each time scribes are in mid-bite, they never fail to tell him that the Third Front is falling apart with leaders, including Chaudhary Ajit Singh and O.P. Chautala, having crossed over to the BJP. But ever the optimist, Gowda says, “Wait till January. The Third Front forces will become as visible as daylight!” Keep your eyes peeled for that one.
Once more, with feeling
What’s A debate without a squabble or two as far as our political classes go. And the one on terrorism and the National Investigating Agency (NIA) was no exception. A spot of amnesia on the part of the right honourable Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, on including the Assam blasts in the debate after having promised to do so, sent members from that state up in flames. And so, an altogether separate discussion on Assam was held.