SHARAD YADAV’S SHOW ON FRIDAY

Expelled Janata Dal (United) Rajya Sabha leader Sharad Yadav is eagerly waiting for the Karnataka Assembly elections hallagulla to finish with counting of votes on 15 May. Yadav is busy these days to ensure a big political rally at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium on Friday, 18 May. It is expected that a new political party, Loktantrik Janata Dal, will be formally floated to fight against the Modi government and the BJP, especially in the northern states. Yadav has challenged his expulsion from the House of Elders in the Delhi High Court. Yadav and his party colleague Ali Anwar had been disqualified from the Rajya Sabha and both were expelled from the House by the Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on the basis of a petition filed by the party against them just before the beginning of Parliament’s winter session in December 2017. The JDU, in its petition, had complained that Yadav and Anwar had been indulging in anti-party activities for a long time. Yadav had been at loggerheads with party boss and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ever since the latter broke ranks with the JDU-Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) grand alliance and partnered with the BJP in Patna in July last year. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Yadav said that the JDU’s old workers had decided to form the Loktantrik Janata Dal. “They are feeling suffocated in the JDU. They need a ‘weapon’ to fight the unholy nexus between their party and the BJP.” According to him, a large number of like-minded political leaders and workers across the country are coming together to establish their new political body. The Loktantrik Janata Dal’s president will be Fateh Singh, a veteran leader from Rajasthan, where he has also served as a minister.

MAMATA DOES NOT WANT OLD PHOTOS

No woman likes to tell her correct age. And women also do not like to be told that they are overweight. The 63-year-old West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is no exception. Didi is said to be upset with some supporters “for displaying her old picture on their Facebook pages.” She feels she looks “not slim” in these pictures. It is learnt that the CM signalled her disapproval of the picture when she saw it first on the Trinamool Congress party secretary-general Partha Chatterjee’s office wall.

Soon, Mamata’s office sent instruction to party offices and government departments “to replace CM’s old pictures with new ones”. But the office forgot social media in this exercise. Sources said that fresh instructions have now been issued to the TMC supporters “to replace Didi’s fat pictures on the Facebook with new ones”.

Meanwhile, Mamata has written a play script which highlights the TMC government’s development initiatives. The street play is a major component of the party’s hectic campaign in the rural belt for the panchayat polls. It also makes fun of the Opposition parties. Well known theatre personality and the state IT Minister Bratya Basu is supervising this initiative. Over 100 folk state and street theatre groups are taking part in Didi’s drama. On the other hand, a theatre actress and BJP worker, Aditi Mukherjee, has alleged that she is being harassed by the police regularly “for playing Mamata Banerjee in a street play on the Rohingya refugees’ issue”.

Mukherjee was asked by the CID to appear at the state police headquarters at Bhavani Bhavan. “The CM attacks the Modi government for destroying democracy. But look at the state of democracy in her own state,” says BJP’s Shamik Bhattacharya, who was a member of the state legislative Assembly from the Basirhat Dakshin constituency in North 24 Parganas.

TMC QUESTIONS PM’S LOVE FOR RABINDRA SANGEET

In his recent 43rd edition of Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while talking about the contribution of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore to the world of literature, said that when he was young he loved listening to Rabindra Sangeet on All India Radio at 5.30 am. “I do not know Bangla, but had the habit of rising early since my childhood and in Eastern India, radio broadcasts start early while in western India these start a bit late. I have a faint memory that probably around 5.30 in the morning, Rabindra Sangeet used to be broadcast on radio and I had developed a habit to listen to Rabindra Sangeet on radio,” Modi told the nation.

In West Bengal, this has, however, triggered a controversy. Apparently, AIR does not go on air so early in the morning. “The first Rabindra Sangeet programme of the day is aired by AIR Kolkata at 7.45 am and the timings were no different when Modi was young,” claimed a Trinamool Congress leader.

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria with his wife at Sarhad restaurant.

FOOD JOINT A HOTSPOT FOR INDIA, PAK DIPLOMATS

In Amritsar, there is a popular restaurant called Sarhad. Located less than two kilometres from the Attari-Wagah border, it is a hotspot for Indian and Pakistani diplomats travelling by road.

After a four-hour drive on the Islamabad-Lahore expressway to the border, diplomats take a break at Sarhad for a meal or snacks, before proceeding to Amritsar airport to catch the flight to New Delhi. Pakistan high commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood and his colleagues generally stop here for food. Similarly, Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria and his colleagues make a point to visit the restaurant. Aman Jaspal, the restaurant owner, says that “food always brings people together”.

“Sarhad’s motto is ‘Peace Thru Food’,” comments Aman’s father, Damanbir Singh Jaspal. ‘Sarhad’ offers a unique range of Lahori and Amritsari cuisine. The Lahori menu includes ‘Chapli Kebab, Nihari Ghost, Bannu Kebab and Miyan Ji ki Dal.’ According to Aman’s wife, Sameena, whose parents own the Little India chain of restaurants in New Zealand, Bisaria’s favourite is the big Lahori Thaal. There is a colourful painted mini-truck parked outside Sarhad. It was painted by Pakistan’s truck artist Haider Ali.

Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, at Sarhad restaurant.

In Pakistan, the truckers are fond of getting their vehicles painted in a stylish manner.

Having practised truck art for three decades, Ali has been making an impression across the globe as the CEO of his organisation, Phool Patti, which aims at promoting “truck art” around the world.

CHINA COURTS DELHI WITH TABLE TENNIS

Of late, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi has been organising interactive seminars with strategic community and think tanks, and fun games and contests. Recently, the embassy organised a table tennis tournament for the diplomatic community. A Chinese diplomat said that the purpose was “simply to increase exchanges and friendship”. The first Friendship Table Tennis Tournament had eight participating teams from the embassies of China, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Russia, South Korea and Romania. Ambassador Luo Zhaohui now has an active Twitter presence at @China_Amb_India. Zhaohui wrote on Twitter: “My old friends, Ambassadors of Czech, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and ROK (Republic of Korea) also join. Great to see you all! Thank you for kicking off the tournament together with me. Ambassadors of Czech and Indonesia also play in the tournament.”Posting a video clip of him playing the game with the Czech envoy, Zhaohui tweeted: “Great fun to play with my friend, H.E. Ambassador Mr Milan Hovorka! Who do you think is a better player :).”

 

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