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Silence is an art in itself

Before the Congress went into the Lok Sabha elections, its president Sonia Gandhi had called a meeting of spokespersons to discuss the party’s media strategy for the polls.

india Updated: May 17, 2009 23:02 IST
Hindustan Times

Silence is an art in itself

Before the Congress went into the Lok Sabha elections, its president Sonia Gandhi had called a meeting of spokespersons to discuss the party’s media strategy for the polls. Veerappa Moily, who was then heading the media department, had led the delegation where members spoke on how they intended to handle the media and the issues they planned to talk about. It was only when the meeting was ending that Satyavrat Chaturvedi spoke up. “It is important to know what to say but even more important to know what not to say,’’ he said. Prophetic words as Moily had to pay for hitting out at the JD-U, a possible ally even now.

Ice melted in the fire

The fire that broke out at Ram Vilas Paswan’s house last week helped bring about a rapprochement with old friends turned foes. Congress president Sonia Gandhi called to inquire after him. Indeed, the telephone at Paswan’s residence has never stopped ringing since that day. Among others who called were NDA convener Sharad Yadav and RLD chief Ajit Singh. Foes may not have become friends again, but some ice has been broken. Of course, the timing of the fire was perfect. But given the drubbing that his Lok Janshakti Party got in Bihar — Paswan too lost his seat — it does look like the 56-year-old leader will have to work the phones to ensure his relevance.

Hand it to him

The bonhomie between the Congress and the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir is seen only at a higher level and not on the ground. Workers of the two parties have clashed on several occasions during the elections. To cool rising tempers, NC president Farooq Abdullah asked the NC-Congress cadre to maintain cordial relations. His words of advice to them were profound: “A plough (NC symbol) cannot run without a hand (Congress symbol).”

Not getting much of a lift

CPM chief Prakash Karat has a tough time getting to his office and literally has to struggle past a posse of over-zealous, mike-wielding newsmen. The other day, a television reporter followed him right up the steps of the CPM headquarters and into the lift. Karat pushed the second-floor button of the lift where he has his office, ignoring the reporter. Not the one to be discouraged, the reporter continued holding the mike up to Karat when suddenly the lift’s doors started to close in. The reporter pulled out just in time, averting a tragedy as Karat heaved a sigh of relief.

The seasoned soothsayer

Most exit polls may not have been able to capture the electoral mood. But it seems a Jaipur-based astrologer did come pretty close. Pandit Akhilesh Sharma, a 45-year-old astrologer, had sent letters to Sonia Gandhi and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot in January forecasting more than 198 seats for the Congress and the status of the single-largest party. Seems this wasn’t the first time that he got it right. Sharma had also predicted that Pratibha Devisingh Patil — then Rajasthan Governor — would move higher to reach the “highest constitutional office”. Patil had been dismissive but a year later, when it came true, did call up Sharma to let him know that he was spot on.

Why did he go a-lone?

Separatist-turned politician Sajjad Lone’s entry into the electoral fray has ruffled many feathers. Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah wished he had spoken with him before joining the mainstream camp. “He could have contested on an NC ticket,” Omar said. Was it a sarcastic comment? Maybe because Omar was quick to add, “Had Sajjad decided to contest polls 10 years ago, the number of graves in Kashmir would have been less”.

A family that holds together

The Congress has experimented with its first coalition at the Centre. It is now getting ready to take another shot at it. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly remained diffident at the thought of having to once again manage a motley crew of `secular’ parties who are part of the UPA combine or are likely to sign up. It took one of his colleagues to remind him that the Congress itself is one big coalition with disparate leaders and shades of ideologies. Singh must have been heartened by this these words of wisdom.

First Published: May 17, 2009 23:00 IST