Assembly elections are round the corner and no politician is missing an opportunity to talk himself up and woo his voters, but here’s one leader who sang a different tune. At an award function held to felicitate medical professionals and hospitals, state health minister Suresh Shetty was asked to say a few words after he presented an award. “Abhi politicians ko koi sunna nahi chahta hoga (no one wants to listen to politicians now),” joked Shetty to an amused audience. Here was an audience braced for a political speech, and Shetty, despite getting an invitation to do so, acted against political instinct.
It was a full house when Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was in Mumbai last week and interacted with mediapersons on the issue of ‘love jihad’. The venue having been changed at the last minute, preparations were still on after most reporters had gathered. As telephones jangled amid last minute phone calls, nobody was surprised at the various Hindu chants that played as ringtone for the right-wing organisers. The vermillion marks on their foreheads and the request to leave footwear at the door were all along expected lines. But even veterans of press conferences by the Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti could not help smiling when the ‘mic testing’ began: “namaskar namaskar namaskar”.
Language No Bar
An officer addressing a press conference always has his job cut out for him, as reporters from English, Hindi and Marathi media attend these briefings, and each usually wants a soundbyte in his or her channel’s respective language. The reporters may be only doing their job but it gets rather tiring for the officer addressing the press conference, who invariably has a bored expression at having to repeat himself in multiple languages. Recently, a police officer addressed a press conference and as soon as he finished speaking in Marathi, there were clamours of “In Hindi! In Hindi!”, to which the harried officer came up with a novel solution for TV channel reporters: “Can’t you use subtitles?”
No muffling his style
He is the original ‘muffler’ man in politics. While Arvind Kejriwal may have redefined a politician’s look with his Aam Aadmi muffler, senior Maharashtra NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s stylish mufflers have been a fashion staple in Maharashtra’s political sphere for some time now. Colourful mufflers are an integral part of Bhujbal’s attire. What’s more, the minister’s impressive collection of mufflers is growing, apparently with supporters pitching in. While politicians are usually gifted shawls, bouquets, and souvenirs at functions, the minister says that supporters and followers have been gifting him mufflers of late. In love with his muffler-clad style statement, the minister is not complaining either. “The collection keeps growing,” he says gleefully. Known for his deadpan humour, Bhujbal quips, “Mufflers protect you from sun and the shade. They come in handy.”