Crime and payment
The Catholic Church is no stranger to scandal; charges of paedophilia, sexual harassment abound. Nuns have even left congregations complaining of misbehaviour. But perhaps for the first time in its history, the Syro Malabar Church has offered Rs 12 lakh to a nun who left a convent in Italy complaining of harassment and who for some reason wasn’t accepted into the convent in Kochi on her return. While the Church denies it is compensation and pleads that the amount is for her “services to the Church”, the faithful wonder if this will open the proverbial Pandora’s box.
The ongoing construction of two 11-storeyed buildings at Jhandewalan has given purchase to speculation that the world’s largest ‘cultural organisation’, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), with six million members running 50,000 shakhas every morning, would be shifting its HQ from Nagpur. Now that the BJP is in power, some floors could be given out on rent to public agencies, say reports.
The other split
While the media attention remained focused on what Prashant Bhushan claimed was a “Stalinist purge”, AAP MP and Punjab’s comedy king Bhagwant Mann was going through a divorce with his US-based wife. Inderjit Kaur had campaigned for her husband in the polls last year and the couple’s photographs from happier times adorn his FB page. Intriguingly, Mann posted that the couple were parting “because of Punjab”.
The last journey
Varanasi is the place where devout Hindus want to go to die. While nobody has an authentic figure of the number of visiting ‘death pilgrims’ or of the ones staying in the ‘waiting rooms for the dying’ that dot the place, it came as no surprise when FM Arun Jaitley, spiritual leader Morari Bapu and principal secretary to the PM, Nripendra Mishra, landed up to launch two boats gifted by a Gujarat-based NGO to ferry the dead for cremation. The idea is to offer free service and clear the roads of the morbid sight of endless funeral processions. Now the dead will be ferried down the river from Samne and Mahisasur Ghat to the ghats where cremation take place. The PM’s constituency is certainly getting proactive in taking care of the dead.
The spy who squawks
Steel and shipping major Essar hit the headlines for hosting Nitin Gadkari on a luxury cruise, picking up tabs for journalists, and paying to get documents and minutes from the PMO. But the group can hardly be faulted for a pigeon deciding to land at its port in Salaya, 15 km from Jamnagar. An alert guard spotted a chip tied to one of its legs and a ring on the other. Arabic letters painted on the wings added to the suspicion and police, Coast Guard, marine police were all summoned to probe. The chip and the ring with the number 28733 were sent to the forensic lab in Gandhinagar. The lettering on the wings read ‘Rasul-ul-Allah’ (Messenger of God) and the chip, it is suggested, is a sensor chip used for racing pigeons. A two-page report has been rushed to North Block in New Delhi seeking guidelines. Meanwhile, the ‘spy’ continues to be in detention.
The Acting spokesperson
By appointing actress-politician Khushboo Sundar as a national spokesperson, the Congress central leadership has seemingly rebuffed P. Chidambaram who’s been critical of the “growing cinema culture” in the party. More fireworks are on the anvil as PCC chief Elongavan has been busy taking potshots at the ex-Union minister saying that some fathers and sons would do the party a service by leaving.
He’s saying it with fruit. Haji Kalimullah, a mango grower who’s been decorated with the nation’s fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Sri, has come up with a new variety named after the prime minister himself, Narendra Modi. Kalimullah, an institution in his own right with 300 different varieties of the fruit to his name in his hometown Malihabad, says the “Modi Mango” is a cross between the Husn-e-Aara of Calcutta and the Dussehri of Lucknow.