For her close lieutenants,there were messages galore in what Mayawati said at her first press conference in New Delhi after losing Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The former chief minister spent a lot of time trying to dispel the impression that a small coterie of bureaucrats (Shashank Shekhar Singh) and political advisors (Satish Chandra Mishra) enjoyed undue influence on her. Taking their names,Mayawati said no one neither (her cabinet secretary) Shashank Shekhar Singh,nor (Rajya Sabha MP) Satish Chandra Mishra or (BSP leader in Lok Sabha) Dara Singh Chauhan could make her do what she did not want to. Incidentally,Mishra,who used to sit alongside Mayawati during her earlier press conferences in Delhi,was seen sitting in the audience on Saturday. What was noted with particular keenness by BSP cadres was the fact that the names of these three important party figures immediately followed the scornful mention of Congress MP P L Punia who had served as principal secretary during Mayawatis earlier stints as chief minister. Mayawati said Punia had turned out to be Gandhiwadi and not Ambedkarwadi and that is why he had embraced a Gandhiwadi party. Like many others,even Mishra was apparently trying to figure out the import of her statement.
Reviving the Brand
As her stock within the state diminishes fast because of one controversy after another,West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has embarked on a unique effort to reach out to Bengali population outside the state. Her government has recently opened a rice outlet in Delhi,called Krishi Shree,which will sell the famous aromatic non-Basmati rice of Bengal at a cheap rate. This is said to be just the first step and apparently more such shops will come up in other cities. The state government believes that this is a good way to build Brand Bengal under Banerjee.
Power of Prayer
ON Saturday,Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee travelled to Udaipur to deliver a lecture at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Mohan Lal Sukhadia University. Having come thus far,he utilised the opportunity to visit the famous Shrinathji temple at Nathdwara that is 50 km away from Udaipur. His 15-minute stay at the shrine has set the tongues wagging considering the fact that his name is doing the rounds for the post of President.
THE son of a Trinamool Congress MP,studying in Oxford,recently lost his bag,which contained,among other things,his passport. Indias diplomatic mission in London was promptly called to help. To everyones relief though,just as help was being arranged,the lifter dutifully mailed the passport to the Indian High Commission in London. While the cash and other valuables could not be recovered,the victim could not but appreciate the display of ethics by the thief.
APART from politics,the anger of the MPs against cartoons in textbook has something to do with the embarrassment their offspring face in schools. Apparently,a few months ago,the children of Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal showed her some of these cartoons in their textbooks and complained that everyone in their schools poked fun at politicians. Kaur,in fact,has been talking about the issue often from thereon,and was unsurprisingly one of the most vocal in criticising the textbooks in Parliament. Congress MP Naveen Jindal has another tale. While teaching his kids,he discovered a number of errors in some of the textbooks facts and figures that had not been updated for years. He had taken up this issue as convenor of the Parliamentary Forum on Children. Still other
MPs have been talking about how their kids feel embarrassed to take their politician parents to school
for parent-teacher meetings,and when left with no option,they insist that the parents follow a strictly non-political dress code which means no white kurta-pyjamas.