Peaceniks like Kuldip Nayyar, Mahesh Bhatt et al who gather at Wagah border every Independence Day to light candles were in for a disappointment this year. No one from the Pakistan side turned up. For the last 10-odd years, champions of peace from the two countries have been gathering at the international border on the night of August 14/15 to light candles. But while on the Indian side it was a regular fair-like atmosphere this time too (with a music show by local artistes), there was silence on the other side of the border. Some speculated it was the recent bad blood between the two nations which prevented the Paki side from turning up. But then thoughts turned to the floods—perhaps it was that which was the dampener.
Latecomers to the I-Day reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan this year had a miserable time. The VIPs who arrived on time had been seated inside the Ashoka Hall while mediapersons, bureaucrats and other invitees were accommodated in a space outside. The late-comers, though, were taken to a verandah and kept herded there. Some like Sharad Yadav and Ravi Shankar Prasad just decided to leave. Congressman Rajiv Shukla was one of the unfortunate lot in the verandah. He was heard cribbing that all sorts of unsavoury fixers, operators and pimps were inside while he had been pushed into a verandah. Hmm.... All in all, it seems our second-rung VIPs didn’t take too well to being treated “cattle-class”.
Tejaswini Sawant’s World Championship shooting saw a rash of ‘celebrations’ in home state Maharashtra. The archetypal Marathi mulgi from Kolhapur, she was feted by the President and the PM. Then it was Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and estranged nephew Raj Thackeray who invited Sawant separately to their respective Mumbai homes—and made much of their sudden discovery of this latest symbol of Maratha pride. The unflappable Sawant also did the rounds of TV studios before heading back to Kolhapur. Which is when CM Ashok Chavan realised his government’s gaffe; they had not come to the party at all. All hell broke loose. Cars were sent with complete protocol to fetch Sawant and her mother to Mumbai. Chavan himself received them, and at the felicitation even spoke of alloting a flat from the CM’s discretionary quota. Through all this, Sawant stood by, an amused look on her face, perhaps at the antics of our netas.
On Independence Day it was left to the little known Bhagat Singh Koshiyari to hoist the national flag at the BJP HQ. Advaniji hoisted the flag at his residence while party president Nitin Gadkari was doing the honours in faraway Nagpur.
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