Silence of the vanquished
Congress leader Narayan Rane seems to have taken his historic defeat after an uninterrupted 24-year run as a legislator from Sindhudurg district badly. The former cabinet minister has turned into a compete recluse since the day he was trounced by his arch nemesis from the Sena, Vaibhav Naik. Not only has Rane switched off his mobile phones refusing to entertain anybody, those calling at his residential bungalow Adhish in Juhu and official bungalow Dnyaneshwari in Malabar Hill are told he has not been attending any calls. Immediately after the Congress’s rout in the Assembly elections, the party announced that Rane, who was the party’s poll campaign manager, would hold a press briefing, only to retract it within a couple of hours. Rane’s self-imposed isolation is a far cry from the days when the Konkan strongman was known to lash out at one and all, even making no qualms about his chief ministerial ambitions.
Following the BJP’s victory at the Assembly elections, every topic that comes for discussion at meetings in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation gets a political hue. At a recent standing committee meeting, corporators were discussing the rise in dengue cases in Mumbai and as expected, accused one another’s parties for not having done enough. A BJP corporator took the now routine “acche din aanewale hain” jibe to heart and retorted more sharply than usual: “The Congress had a leader who looked like he was suffering for dengue for 10 years because he never addressed the people of this country.”
An officer with the Crime Branch bears a striking resemblance to newly elected Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. While this didn’t matter much earlier, the sudden media attention on Fadnavis has also drawn attention to the officer. Last week, at a restaurant, a stranger walked up to him and asked him if he was the CM-designate. The amused cop laughed it off. On his way back home, however, when he flashed his official ID at a toll plaza, the attendant asked, “Arrey yeh CM ka photo kyun lagaya hai? (Why have you pasted the CM’s picture on your ID)?” The officer has since been ribbed endlessly by colleagues.
Going for gold
Customs officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport are a relaxed lot usually, for they know that even if there are no seizures on a given day, one flight will definitely yield something. A flight from Dubai that arrives after midnight is affectionately called ‘Dhanlaxmi’ by Customs officials. Almost every day, at least one, if not more, flier is caught smuggling gold on this flight. “There are no restrictions imposed on the amount of gold one can carry out of UAE provided the passenger can furnish proof of the gold purchase and mode of payment, whereas passengers are expected to declare and pay duty on gold in India. And, now, with the higher duty levied on gold since last October, smuggling cases have gone up, and Dhanlaxmi doesn’t disappoint at all,” said an official. The officials are currently on a high as they have set their sights on crossing 1,000 kg of gold seizure by the year-end, the highest ever. This will keep them comfortably placed above their Delhi and Chennai counterparts in terms of gold seizures.
Meaning in mourning
‘In remembrance of those who were martyred,’ read the sticker on the water bottles being distributed at a crowded junction near Bandra station on Saturday afternoon. “This is not a promotional thing but an attempt to educate the masses. Moharram is on, they need to know why we mourn,” said Saif Hussain, a 19-year-old engineering student who along with another teenager distributed nearly 250 bottles by 2 pm on Saturday afternoon. The sticker named a website, Tears of Karbala.com, an Al-Zulfiquar initiative, where people could get more information on Moharram. “We are a part of this initiative and there are many more like us who would be selling bottles of water on November 1 and 2,” Saif said.
Judge no bar
Sitting for hours in one position can take a toll on the body and the judges of the Bombay High Court are no exception. On one such occasion, while the legal proceedings of a criminal matter were underway, the lordship seemed in acute pain. Some time after the first signs of discomfort became evident, the judge couldn’t take it any longer. “Please excuse me for a bit and I will be back,” he told the lawyer while struggling to rise from his chair. Seeing the judge’s predicament, the lawyer remarked, “These are professional hazards that your lordship faces over on that side across the bar and we face the same on this side of it.” The judge, after an interval of barely seven minutes, gingerly made his way back and resumed proceedings.
Netas with heft
Hoisting a victor on the shoulders is a time-tested tradition of celebrating success. However in Indian politics, the burgeoning weight of Indian politicians is creating a hurdle for party activists who are keen on following this practice. In Central Mumbai, activists of a party known for its right wing image had a tough time hauling up a portly winner after the recent Assembly elections. Ingenious party workers decided that the next best thing was for two workers to carry the leader at waist height. One activist turned nostalgic at the end of the effort, and complained that unlike the older days of leaner and fitter politicians it was becoming increasingly difficult to bear the weight of today’s politicians.
Security personnel stationed at the Arthur Road court recently retrieved a pocket knife from an under-trial who is out on bail. The assistant registrar of the court said that the accused who was booked under sections of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act was immediately presented in the special court. However, security officials said that the accused had begun to sell vegetables for a living and therefore kept a knife with him, to cut vegetables when customers demanded. The accused had apparently forgotten to remove it from his pocket before appearing in court. Special Judge A L Pansare warned the under-trial and directed him to not repeat the mistake.ì