RS CALENDAR LOOKS BACK IN HISTORY
A fascinating Rajya Sabha 2019 calendar released by the Upper House Chairman, M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday revealed many interesting facts like that the House of Elders had no Leader of Opposition (LoP) for 34 of the last 66 years. A wide array of 65 leaders including 13 Chairmen, 12 Deputy Chairpersons including three women, 26 Leaders of the House and 14 LoPs from different parties since the inception of the Upper House in 1952 have been featured in the calendar.
Naidu told The Sunday Guardian that the calendar was a chronicle of political changes and the history of Rajya Sabha since 1952. It features one Chairman on each page, along with their quotes about the expectations from the members.
The information rich calendar depicts that late Shyam Nandan Mishra (Congress-O) was the first LoP during December 1969-March 1971. The institution of Leader of Opposition was created through an Act in 1977. The late Bhola Pawan Shastry was the first LoP during February-March 1978 under this Act under which the Opposition status is conferred on a party with one tenth of the strength of the House.
The periods when the Rajya Sabha had “no LoP” were: May 1952-November 1969; April 1972-January 1978; March 1978-December 1979; April 1980-December 1989; and February 1991-May 1991.
Manmohan Singh has the distinction of being the LoP and Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha for the longest duration of over six years and 10 years respectively.
Referring to the persistent turbulence in the Upper House, Naidu said, “I am pained by our inability to ensure convergence of different agendas into a national agenda…Parliamentary institutions can’t be held captive to the competing agendas.” Naidu recalled that the first Chairman, Dr S. Radhakrishnan had urged the members to do everything to justify the creation of the second chamber of Parliament. “I have been trying to impress upon the members only three words—discuss, debate and decide.”
The Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and LoP Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the calendar was educative even for senior members. The Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha, Desh Deepak Verma, felt that “the calendar is a learner’s delight”.
JAITLEY MISQUOTES JAMES BOND
It is evident that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is a fan of fictional British spy James Bond. No wonder he quoted Bond during the discussion on the Rafale in Parliament on Wednesday. While cornering Rahul Gandhi, he quoted Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger to say, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is conspiracy.” But Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien, an erstwhile quizmaster, later tweeted that Jaitley had wrongly quoted Bond: So FM @arunjaitley misquotes Ian Fleming James Bond in #Parliament to suit himself. Here is the correct quote: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is ENEMY ACTION” (How convenient).
SHAKTI KAPOOR IN HIGH SPIRITS
Bollywood actors add a dash of glamour to any function. But not all, like Shakti Kapoor, as one discovered at a special event at the United Services Institute Residency, Delhi Cantonment, just before the beginning of 2019. A live performance by military band and a welcome by ceremonial horses of 61st Cavalry regiment of the Army added colour to the celebrations. Apart from the large presence of the family of late actor Joy Mukerji, actors Shakti Kapoor, Kanwaljit Singh, Bhojpuri actor-singer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari (Delhi BJP president) and many more were present. Tiwari was the chief guest.
Neelam Mukerji, wife of Joy Mukerji, unveiled the host, Sunil Kapoor’s collection of 61 poems, Punam ka Chaand.
After lunch, Shakti Kapoor enthralled the audience with anecdotes from his early days in Delhi’s Karol Bagh where he lived with his father, who owned a popular tailor shop in Connaught Place. But then he suddenly started cracking not-so-funny jokes, taking a dig at the author of Punam ka Chand and his family members. Then he claimed, “I am in high demand from all political party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for campaigning in the 2019 Parliamentary election rallies.”
He then tried to flatter the Delhi BJP chief by saying, “Tiwari is a great cricketer. Once he had played a great innings in a film industry match. I can say that Sachin Tendulkar is chavani (25 paise) in front of him.” No one laughed and Tiwari ignored him. About Shakti’s undignified behaviour, a little bird later told us that he was in “high spirits” since his arrival from Mumbai.
LUXURY CRUISING IN GOA
A young Delhi man, Abhinav Chandla, has launched India’s first three-deck wooden ship, Galaxia Galante, in Goa’s Mandovi river. On New Year’s Eve, the floating restaurant was a craze among locals and tourists. A major private television channel hired its upper deck to beam its New Year’s special programme featuring actors, dancers and singers.
“Small tourist boats floating in the Mandovi are like rickety DTC buses in front of our magnificent ship,” claims Chandla, son of former Delhi BJP MLA, Prof P.K. Chandla. “We cruise down the backwaters, show the churches, heritage homes and greenery on the river banks and the sunset.” Chandla has the experience of launching amusement parks like Appu Ghar, Adventure Island and Oysters across Delhi-NCR.
Many had tried to get this coveted cruise project, “but the Goa Tourism Development Corporation chose our idea of a floating restaurant,” says Chandla. The vessel is straight from the pages of history. The legendary Kettuvallam boat style of Kerala has been constructed using ancient techniques, with a special wood, “Anjili”. Coir ropes have been used for tightening the wooden planks together; nails have not been used.
PRE-PARTITION MEDIA GALLERY IN PUNJAB
The Museum of Peace at “Sarhad”, an Amritsar-Lahori cuisine restaurant 2 km from the Attari-Wagah border unveiled a gallery of rare images of old vernacular newspapers in pre-Partition Punjab on New Year’s Eve. Titled “Pre-Partition Punjab-Vernacular Press”, the gallery displays issues of some of the oldest Urdu dailies, including The Paisa Akhbar, Zamindar, Daily Inquilab and The Akali, Amritsar, sourced from archives in Lahore. Entry is free.
Conceived and designed by retired IAS officer, D.S. Jaspal, the museum is a celebration of the common composite culture of pre-partition Punjab in general and Amritsar-Lahore in particular. Among others, there is a copy of The Paisa Akhbar which started in 1885 at a price of one paisa per copy.
Jaspal told The Sunday Guardian that the vernacular press in pre-Partition Punjab had a critical influence on events leading to 1947: “Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs had their own media which used nationalism as a platform to project and promote their identity interests.”