Rahul Gandhi was a witness to the differences between West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and his predecessor, Manas Bhunia. Rahul had convened a meeting of party’s state leaders Monday during which Bhunia took a dig at the leadership of Chowdhury, who is often accused of focusing only on his home district, Murshidabad. Bhunia is said to have alleged that Chowdhury’s success in Murshidabad is a result of “social factors” – that nearly 70 per cent of the district’s population is Muslim, and the community has traditionally voted for the Congress. Chowdhury contested, saying not many Congress candidates had won from the district.
Dealing With Delays
The scheduled presence of Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma at the annual festival of the National School of Drama had triggered some excitement, as he was supposed to announce schemes related to the institution. The excitement was, however, short-lived. Sharma’s flight from Jaipur got delayed and he was unable to make it to the venue. Culture Secretary N K Sinha was hurriedly designated the chief guest, but he too got caught up in traffic due to a protest. He turned up late, but the minister got effusive praise from NSD director Waman Kendre. “Sir, ever since you have come, the culture ministry is not walking — it is galloping,” Kendre said.
Not Officer’s Choice
The inclusion of traditional instruments like tabla, sitar and santoor in the Beating Retreat ceremony may have earned applause from the audience and critics, but a few ex-servicemen took to social media to criticise it, calling it a dilution of military music. A static formation with Indian classical instruments with 20-odd musicians was created for the first time at the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29. Many retired officers, however, said the Beating Retreat is a military event and these were uncalled for. The defence establishment defended the inclusion of the instruments, saying they contributed positively to the ceremony without interfering with the military display.
Akademi At A Loss
The Sahitya Akademi recently had egg on its face while attempting to restore its credibility following the ‘award wapsi’ controversy. It first created a buzz that a veteran Hindi author had helped many writers return the money that came with their awards. It helped that of 39 writers who had returned the awards, only a few had initially returned the prize money. Later, as many other awardees returned the money, the Akademi officials claimed that the protest was sponsored. It soon turned out to be false. Akademi officials now say at least 10 writers have agreed to take their awards back. Only one has actually done so, inviting more flak for the Akademi on social media.