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Virender Kapoor | August 29, 2005
Rahul plays truant
Addressing the Congress parliamentary party meeting during the budget session, Sonia Gandhi had pointedly directed her MPs to take their duties as members seriously. Asking them to attend regularly, she impressed upon them the need to participate actively in deliberations.
However, one person who has paid scant heed to her advice is none other than son Rahul. He has hardly been seen in the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session. Even during the Budget session, his visits were few and far between.
A year after becoming an honourable member, he has yet to make his maiden speech.
Yes, Rahul did speak for a minute or two about the non-payment of sugarcane arrears to farmers in Uttar Pradesh, causing a huge surprise. His few words on a special mention immediately made headlines.
Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi might have been a professor of physics at Allahabad University. He might know, as he would tell you, the difference between a neutron and neuron, which, he would helpfully add, hardly any other politician would know about. His party, however, seems to have little use for his knowledge.
The other day, when Dr Joshi spent some time in the Central Hall of Parliament, he was asked by a journalist why he didn't initiate the debate on India's nuclear agreement with America.
"They would not ask me to," he replied. The BJP leadership wouldn't field him on any major debates in the Rajya Sabha because of his open hostility towards party chief L K Advani. Which is a tragedy considering that Sushma Swaraj, who spoke on the nuclear understanding, may have a way with Hindi, but cannot bring to the issue the kind of information the good professor can.
Khurana ko gussa kyon aata hain?
Delhi BJP stalwart Madan Lal Khurana had it coming for a long time. Given his long record in service to the Sangh Parivar, all he wanted was a seat in the Rajya Sabha. But the entrenched BJP leadership denied him a nomination from Gujarat, the only state that could have returned him in the latest polls.
Finding himself increasingly unwanted, Khurana allowed his frustration to get the better of him, letting fly at Advani and the alleged coterie around him. Which, in turn, earned him a suspension.
In particular, he directed his ire at people like Balbir Punj, the Rajya Sabha member and convenor of the BJP's think tank. Khurana found it unacceptable that someone like Punj -- who had reneged on the Sangh Parivar during the Emergency and sought pardon for his association with the RSS to stay out of jail -- could walk into Advani's office and home while he, a vintage Swayamsewak, had to wait for weeks for an audience.
When Khurana accused Advani of running the party as a corporate entity, he alluded to the fact that some people surrounding him represented big business interests whose personal fortunes had grown many times over since they had wound their way into the party chief's camp.
Uma's short-lived protest
After his brush with 'secular' Jinnah, L K Advani has lost his moral authority to call the usually recalcitrant elements in the party to order. The result is that even Uma Bharti is now itching for a showdown.
The saffron sadhvi wants her old job as Madhya Pradesh chief minister back, but the party leadership is in no mood to accede.
Given her temperamental state, Uma recently started a snap dharna at the BJP headquarters. Fearing that the media would soon swoop down on the party office and turn it into a big story, a panicky Sanjay Joshi, organising secretary of the BJP, used all his tact to persuade her to call off the protest.
Netaji still alive
How do you expect an Indian official, at home or abroad, to participate in a memorial service on the supposed death anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose when, officially, his status continues to be 'missing' rather than 'dead'?
That question cropped up yet again when a small group in Tokyo organised a memorial service on August 18. Neither the Indian ambassador in Japan nor any other official from the mission attended the ceremony. They had good reason. After all, attending would have implicitly meant the Government of India concedes that Netaji -- who would have been 110-plus were he alive today -- was dead.
The government's official position continues to be that Netaji's whereabouts are unknown. In fact, even now, a commission under retired judge M K Mukherjee is probing the mysterious disappearance.
When Mulayam counter-attacked the media
Quite clearly, a section of the media hasn't heard the saying about people living in glass houses throwing stones.
If it had, it would possibly have been more careful while attacking politicians for certain actions.
Take the recent allotment of housing plots by the Lucknow Development Authority.
When a news channel exposed the scandal about discretionary allotment of plots to relatives of senior politicians, civil servants and police officers, UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav threatened to reveal the names of journalists associated with the channel who had allegedly benefited from the allotment as well.
Yadav, in particular, vent his anger against a senior journalist who had taken a couple of plots in Greater Noida. He went on to name a couple of newspaper groups that had also been allotted land.
As it happened, the very next day, Yadav was in the capital. On his way out of Parliament House, television journalists buttonholed him.
Clarifying that neither the owner of the channel nor his wife had taken a plot, he threatened that, if pushed, he would expose all media persons who had.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh