|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
'Nothing is rocking, bhaiya'
Sheela Bhatt on board flight IA 839 | January 21, 2006 04:17 IST
Indian Airlines ---now known as just 'Indian'-- ferried some real government heavyweights aboard its Flight 839 from Delhi to Hyderabad on Friday.
These included Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who almost runs the government, heading as he does some 30 Group of Ministers ( GoMs) formed to debate different issues; Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Mrs Sonia Gandhi ( Patel loves to be modest: "please don't say advisor. I am her secretary and not advisor!" he tells journalists with a straight face); Former Chief Minister of Chattisgarh Ajit Jogi, who has an amazing survival instinct; Jairam Ramesh, known to be master in preparing briefs and notes on a huge variety of issues for Mrs Gandhi but quite unpopular in the lower ranks of Congress; Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Salman Khurshid, whose failure to revitalize the party has serious consequences for Mrs Gandhi and the party's future, and Saifuddin Soz, the Kashmiri leader whose one vote in parliament created history in 1999, bringing down the Vajpayee government because of his rebellion against his party whip.
There were also more than dozen Congress workers, and many MLAs from Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
It's always fun to report on political parties mega events.
One, because the high and mighty leaders, usually inaccessible, are forced to mix with the aam janta of their party.
Two, because it's only by attending such melas and tamashas --which are given fanciful names like plenary sessions and chintan baithaks -- does one fully understand how cunning, difficult, complex, spoilt and emotional the Indian voter is.
Such political shows also expose how the cream of the Indian political leadership, like Pranab Mukherjee and Arjun Singh, seem helpless when it comes to giving directions to ensure electoral success for their party.
But flight 839 was sending out other signals too: Rahul Gandhi has arrived, at last.
All the Congressmen we talked to said that Rahul is in the news and will be the star of the next three days. "It will all depend on how he is projected," said an MLA. "He says we should not 'corporatize' the functioning of Congress party."
But the more profound quotes came from some of the 'smaller' leaders of the party aboard flight 839.
Without taking names, here are some nuggets:
As the delegates and scribes streamed out of the airport at Hyderabad, they were bombarded with huge cut outs of Sonia Gandhi. And hoardings that scream: 'Rahul is the Best.'
Rediff DiaryWrite a Diary!