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April 22, 2004
Navjot Singh Sidhu had a good innings as India's opener but never did he have to face several bowlers at one time.
Barely had he finished with commentating on the Indo-Pak series when he learnt that the Bharatiya Janata Party had decided to field him from the Amritsar parliamentary seat.
Though his name was being mentioned in BJP circles for the last month, his candidature was not announced because of stiff resistance from local politicians, several of who were contenders for the party ticket. And they are not happy with his candidature.
The Indian public be warned: Once he files his nomination papers, Sidhu would have to resign from his post as Manager (Public Relations) in the State Bank of Patiala. If he does not win, he will turn to commentating for sustenance, which means more Sidhuisms…
Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, who was on his Bharat Uday Yatra till April 14, thought he has scored over Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he held a press conference in the capital the very next day. Vajpayee, who filed his nomination papers on April 15, had other ideas. According to the grapevine on South Block, the moment he heard about Advani's press conference the prime minister decided to grant interviews to almost all private television channels. Result: there was no, or little, mention of Advani's press conference.
Rashtriya Janata Dal boss Laloo Prasad Yadav is at it again, regaling people, that is.
Laloo's rustic humour is on display as he explains to the electorate how to use electronic voting machines.
While harping on his pet secularism theme, he tries to impress upon voters the need to inflict a crushing defeat on the 'communal forces.'
"Hum log ghar (Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party's election symbol) se niklenge, haath (Congress) ishara karega, lalten (RJD symbol) rah dikhayega, hasua aur hathaura (CPI-M symbol) se sampradayeek takaton ko retenge aur todenge aur ghari (NCP symbol) mein hum dekhenge ki hamein kitna samay laga in takaton ko nasht karne mein (we will move out of the house, the hand will direct us, the lantern will show us the way and we will use the sickle and hammer to destroy the communal forces. We shall use the watch to mark the time taken to destroy these forces).
"Machinwa ko dekhna jab bagal se kholega. Khulte hi lalten par dabana tab machinwa bolega peen (when the electronic voting machine is unlocked you press the button alongside the hurricane lamp. It will make a sound)," he says.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh