Not chai, but fafda
Mani Shankar Aiyar tried to score points by dismissing Narendra Modi as a former chaiwallah. The BJP seized upon his job description to its advantage, starting Modi chai pe charcha stalls all over the country as part of its campaign strategy. But those who knew Modi in the good old days say the chaiwallah description is inaccurate. When Modi returned to Gujarat after his Himalayan sojourn, instead of going back to Vadnagar, his birthplace, he went to Ahmedabad, where his uncle sold fafda (a Gujarati savoury), not tea, at the Geeta Mandir bus stop. While studying, Modi helped his uncle as a part-time dishwasher. RSS leader Lakshmanrao Inamdar, known as ‘Vakil saheb’, took an interest in the young dishwasher, who was fond of reading. He invited Modi to Hedgewar Bhavan in Ahmedabad during the Navnirman movement. There, Modi’s duties included cooking, washing clothes and mopping floors.
ACTOR Salman Khan has invited considerable comment for flying kites with Narendra Modi last month. Khan tried to play down his interaction with the Gujarat CM, saying he was not endorsing anyone and in his constituency in Mumbai, he will support Congress MP Priya Dutt. Actually, Modi had made an offer to Salman’s father, former scriptwriter Salim Khan, to stand on the BJP ticket from Bharuch for the Lok Sabha election. Salim declined.
Quick change artiste
TDP MP M Venugopal Reddy, who was at the centre of the pandemonium in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, snatching the microphone from the secretary-general’s desk, was pounced upon by Telangana MPs who moved to the well of the House to counter his protest. In the subsequent fracas, Reddy’s clothes were torn and he was seen leaving the House. But within 10 minutes, he faced TV cameras in a new outfit. The MP had got a spare change of clothes delivered to him inside Parliament by his staff.
ANNA Hazare has declared he wouldn’t mind supporting Mamata Banerjee for prime minister because of her ‘simplicity’. Actually, Mamata’s Trinamool Congress was the only political party that responded to his letter spelling out 17 points for action. Mamata is keen to cultivate Anna since she believes that post-polls, he can be the guiding spirit for a non-Congress, non- BJP political front. At present, Jayalalithaa, with the Left as an ally, is making a bid to capture this space. Mamata’s admiration for him is a new phenomenon. In 2011, she had walked out in a huff at a CNN-IBN function when she heard that he was being honoured with the man of the year award. Rajdeep Sardesai had to chase her to her car and persuade her to return to accept her award as politician of the year.
A suitable house
ACTRESS and SP MP Jaya Bachchan has been a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2006, but she is yet to be allotted a suitable house. She had no choice but to continue staying at her private residence in Gulmohar Park. As a distinguished artiste and two-time MP, Bachchan is entitled to a bungalow category reserved for senior MPs. But the housing committee is unhelpful. In contrast, Sachin Tendulkar was allotted the spacious 5, Tughlaq Lane, bungalow the moment he was nominated as an MP. Bachchan’s problem is that she needs a house which is away from the main road as, otherwise, it could be a public nuisance whenever her superstar husband visits. Nevertheless, the first house offered to her was on the busy Mathura Road, opposite Pragati Maidan. Recently, a secluded bungalow off Lodhi Road was located. But the occupant, Rasheed Masood, refused to vacate, even though he has lost his parliamentary seat following conviction in a corruption case. Now Bachchan has been offered a flat in Brahmaputra Apartments near Connaught Place, which once again does not meet the requirements.
LOK Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar feels that Parliament has not given former speakers their due and she is determined to rectify the lacuna. She has added the names of former speakers to the list of prominent parliamentarians whose birthdays are celebrated in the Central Hall. She also commissioned portraits of all former speakers. President Pranab Mukherjee unveiled the portraits last week and the pictures have been hung in the outer lobby near Gate 21. The unveling ceremony was held with considerable fanfare. Exquisite flowers such as anthuriums and birds of paradise were used to decorate the dais, though several women MPs expressed distress at the lack of aesthetics in the way the flowers were arranged.