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Polscape | MAGAZINE | Oct 07, 2002
"The content is okay, but the manner should've been more gentle."
VHP spokesman Veereshwar Dwivedi on Narendra Modi's provocative speeches
"There are demons in me...47 at the last count, and the only time they get out is when we are on stage."
Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards
percentage of child abuse cases in America where the parents are involved: 84
The BJP's star poll campaigners were nowhere to be seen in Jammu & Kashmir. The Congress had Sonia Gandhi, but the BJP booth disappointed. And no wonder. The PM was living it up in Maldives while deputy L.K. Advani was dealing with 'important issues' like the Delhi Reorganisation Bill. Party chief Venkaiah Naidu was making his first visit to Kerala (after his elevation) while star orator Pramod Mahajan was harping on Sonia's foreign origins in Guwahati. Finally, it was left to Sushma Swaraj to mark her party's presence in j&k. The Bellary battle continues.
Pushed to the wall, Karnataka CM S.M. Krishna has decided to forego his media-friendly image. He's busy dodging queries now, whether it's on government strategy on rescuing ex-minister Nagappa from Veerappan's clutches or the Cauvery water dispute with Tamil Nadu. On the Cauvery imbroglio at least, Krishna had only cryptic soundbites for the pestering reporters: How would he react to the contempt petition (in the Supreme Court)? "By replying to it." How would he defend himself on the show-cause notice? "Through a lawyer." Edgy CM? Maybe we're talking real governance here.
Who says fiefdoms are passe? Rewa in MP was a toll tax-free zone for a day, the birthday of the "White Tiger of Rewa", assembly speaker Sriniwas Tiwari. Hundreds of vehicles joining the gala 78th birthday celebrations—Tiwari champions the cause of a separate Vindhya Pradesh—were exempted from the toll. Schoolkids lined the streets as speaker after speaker sang paeans in Tiwari's honour. The bad roads, poverty and zero development didn't stop courtiers from referring to the "Ram Rajya" in the region. The festivities cost Rs 40 lakh, and "the entire money came from the people", they added. And why not? Tiwari runs a parallel "amhaiya sarkar" here.The writ of the MP government, they say, doesn't cross the line into Vindhya Pradesh.
Give the man a mike and here is another dramatic announcement. The catch is much of what publicity-hound Kripashankar Singh, Maharashtra's minister of state for home, says is exaggerated to the point of being untrue. Last week, he made headlines claiming the state government was considering banning the vhp and Bajrang Dal for their role in the Gujarat carnage. He even claimed deputy PM L.K. Advani was being approached on the matter. Livid, both the bjp and the Bajrang Dal issued stinging rebuttals. But they needn't have bothered. When asked to comment, deputy CM Chhaggan Bhujbal, who controls the home portfolio, said this was the first time he was hearing of any such proposal. Even the CM's office was puzzled. By the end of the day, Kripashankarji was taking the usual "misquoted" route. Next time he sounds off, perhaps the media could "kripa karke ignore him!"
The Congress' in-charge for Gujarat, Kamal Nath, sent an sms to friends a day after the temple attack: "Who are we to say who's Hindu, who's Muslim when there is Ali in Diwali and Ram in Ramzan. We are all Indians!" Well, that's a nice change from Modi's vitriol.
While telecom and IT minister Pramod Mahajan is busy tackling high-flying issues like fdi in the telecom sector, in Delhi even basic services are in terrible condition. A quarter of the phones lie dead with even 'vip complaint' channels exhausted and useless.
The Fly-By
After the hard work was done, it was quiz time for journalists and the younger lot at the mea who accompanied the prime minister on his recent New York visit. On the Zurich-Delhi leg, mea spokesperson Nirupama Rao played quizmaster while correspondents wracked their brains for the correct answers. The questions were related to the PM's visit. Some samples: which country spoke first at the UN session and why? The name of the yacht on which the journalists were taken for a pleasure ride? Which water bodies will the PM's plane fly over on its way to Delhi? According to one veteran scribe, Rao does have a future hosting quiz shows. Perhaps it's easier asking questions than answering them!

Not to be outdone, the journalists also came up with their own questions, to test the folks from the mea. What was the name of the sniffer dog who cleared the room where the PM held his press conference? The father of a senior official in the delegation was a famous politician. Who is the official and what was his father's name? Well, everyone knew who the official was (Brajesh Mishra) but no one could get his father's full name right. At the end of the day it was all good fun. Said a diplomat, "It was great. The quiz helped relieve the monotony that usually sets in on long-haul flights. Moreover, there was a bonus. At the end of the quiz, the winners (a journalist and an official) got a bottle of wine each."

 
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