Pardon us, but we too intend to touch upon Fire. Very briefly.
Cut to the Rajya Sabha, where Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam said thespian film-actor Dilip Kumar was a 'Pakistani.' Nirupam, heatedly defending the recent Sena attacks on theatres showing Deepa Mehta's controversial film, went on to say that Kumar was also involved in a spying case during the 1965 Indo-Pak war!
The entire House, including the BJP members, rose in protest. Chairman Krishan Kant strongly condemned Nirupam for bringing 'indignity to the House and the entire country.'
But Nirupam was unrepentant and refused to withdraw his remarks, forcing the House to adjourn.
The next day Nirupam was persuaded to read out an apology framed by party leaders in consultation with the chairman. He went through the motions of reading it, but again touched off a furore by gratuitously adding 'I still hold what I said about Dilip Kumar to be true.' After another bedlam, he withdrew the comment and the matter was pronounced closed.
Now cut to Parliament's Central Hall. Nirupam, a middle-level journalist from Bihar whom Sena supremo Bal Thackeray sent to the RS from Maharashtra because of his poison pen, ambles in accompanied by fellow Sena MP Pritish Nandy. Another journalist-turned BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh soon joins them.
As the threesome downs highly-subsidised but nonetheless excellent gulab jamuns and large glasses of fresh fruit juice, senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee walks up. Mukherjee is beaming. He shakes hands with Nirupam, calling him 'the hero of the day'.
A few minutes later BJP general secretary Venkaiah Naidu walks up, and on. But not before he pats Nirupam and mumbles something. Follow leaders of several 'secular' parties, none of whom moves on without cutting jokes with the man who has seemingly shocked all of them by his unsavoury remarks...
Shocked? That's politics.
Friends for ever
Fresh as flowers, pure as air, theirs is a friendship that's simply blooming in Delhi.
Under mention are Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda.
Sonia called on Deve Gowda a few days before her birthday last week and was with him for nearly an hour. He returned the gesture and drove to 10, Janpath to wish her 'happy birthday.' They spend a good length of time together.
Clearly the two did not discuss the weather. A little bird tells us their powwow centred on the future alignments in Karnataka. The general impression that Sonia is ready to make Deve Gowda prime minister again is wrong.
Deve Gowda, it seems, is keen to tie up with the Congress in the next year's assembly election in Karnataka, his home state. He reckons that arch foe Ramkrishna Hegde's Lok Shakti and the BJP would join hands. And the incumbent Chief Minister J H Patel too would team up them, leaving him with a rump of the Janata Dal unit there. That would indeed be a formidable combination.
To beat it, Deve Gowda must make common cause with the Congress. Sonia, for her part, is keen to win Karnataka even if it means making Deve Gowda chief minister. She wants to prove that the recent victories in the North are no fluke.
Sometime ago, Indian Tourism Development Corporation Chairman-cum-Managing Director Ashok Pradhan organised his daughter's marriage celebration at the five-star Ashoka hotel. He ensured that the Ashoka left no stone unturned for his guests. And at a nominal cost.
All that would have gone unnoticed but for Pradhan's vengeful act against a beauty parlour located at the hotel. It now threatens to snowball into a major scandal. Thus happened it:
There is a showroom-cum-beauty saloon run by the cosmetic manufacturer, Lakme. Pradhan wanted the beauticians to come to his house for making up the bride-to-be. The saloon as a rule does not undertake outdoor work.
It happened to be a holiday, but knowing Pradhan was the ITDC boss, the saloon bosses were willing to open it for him. But Pradhan insisted on the beautician coming to his house. Despite attempts by her bosses to persuade her to undertake the home visit 'just this once', the in-house beautician refused.
"Today it is Pradhan, tomorrow it will be another VIP. This is not part of my duty and I wouldn't do it..." she said, forcing Pradhan to turn to some other beautician.
Since that day, the Lakme saloon in Ashoka has attracted the ITDC ire. It has now been asked to quit the premises by the end of the year. Having been there for 20 years, and having periodically raised the rent, Lakme is in no mood to oblige. If Pradhan refuses to relent, Hindustan Lever, which owns Lakme, is determined to seek legal remedy.
Meanwhile, the beautician who triggered it all off is unrepentant. She did no wrong, after all.
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