Poll Weapon

BJP Will Use Pakoda Jibe

Apart from alleged Punjab National Bank scamaster billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, social media these days is full of pakoda jibes and jokes to run down Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent assertion in a television interview that someone earning Rs 200 by opening a pakoda shop by the street couldn’t be called unemployed.

Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has commented that by that logic even begging is a job, and “let’s count poor or disabled persons who are forced to beg for a living as ‘employed’ people.”  

Initially, the BJP was on defensive. Now, it seems, the BJP has decided to take advantage of the situation. The Delhi BJP media unit has started organising pakoda-chai sessions to brief the press.

Sources say that the party’s top leadership has taken a decision to convert the Congress’ pakoda jibe into an electoral weapon against the Opposition as was done with the “chai wala” remark against Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar. “We will equate pakoda making with the self-respect of entrepreneurs in the country,” says a senior party leader.

In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP chief Amit Shah tore into Congress leader Chidambaram for his jibe against Modi’s comment on pakoda sellers, saying that being a street vendor and selling “pakodas” was better than being jobless.

So, the BJP leadership now wishes to take the pakoda issue the “chai-wala” way. The Congress’ “chai-wala” barb against Modi had boosted the BJP’s electoral prospects in 2014.

All through his poll campaign, Modi had referred to his childhood “chai-wala” status at a Gujarat railway station to highlight his humble background.

It had given the BJP an opportunity “to milk the issue to its advantage”. This had led to the launch of Modi’s “chai pe charcha” campaign.

Not Again

BJP Doesn’t Want To See Sharad Yadav In Rajya Sabha

Will he or will he not? The BJP leadership is curious to know whether disqualified Janata Dal United (JDU) Rajya Sabha Member Sharad Yadav will bounce back to the House of Elders in April, courtesy Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad.

After receiving a complaint from the JDU’s leadership against Sharad Yadav and his party colleague Ali Anwar Ansari for their alleged anti-party activities like hobnobbing with the Congress and other Opposition parties, Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu, in a swift manner in December, had disqualified them both. Before the decision, the BJP leaders were openly telling everyone that they would see to it that Sharad Yadav would not be able to enter the House in the winter session, although it must be said that Vice-President Naidu is independent of his former party.

Now, the BJP leadership is apprehensive of Sharad Yadav coming back to the House with the help of the RJD. Sharad Yadav has challenged his disqualification in the Delhi High Court, which has permitted him to retain his Tughlaq Road bungalow till the final decision.

Speculation about Sharad Yadav entering the Rajya Sabha with Lalu Yadav’s help started when he met the RJD chief in the Ranchi jail on 5 February. This made JDU spokesperson Neeraj Kumar taunt that Sharad Yadav is “desperate for a Rajya Sabha seat, hence the prison call”. Neeraj Kumar is known to be close to the JDU president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Elections for six Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar are scheduled in April. The JDU and the BJP are assured of retaining three of these, while the RJD has the numbers to wrest two from the NDA. For the sixth seat, the contest is open. Four JDU MPs—Bashistha Narayan Singh, Anil Kumar Sahni and Mahendra Prasad, aka King Mahendra—and BJP Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan complete their terms on 2 April. The sixth seat was represented by JDU rebel Ali Anwar, since disqualified. “Frankly,” a senior BJP Rajya Sabha MP told The Sunday Guardian, “it would be embarrassing to see Sharad Yadav back in the House so soon.”

Hefty Compensation

Arunachal Tribals Turn Crorepatis

For 31 tribal families living in a far-flung hamlet in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, bahut acche din aagaye hein. Overnight, they have turned “crorepatis”—thanks to hefty compensation received from the Ministry of Defence.They have got compensation against their 200.056 acres land acquired by the army to set up its Tawang Garrison. Their Bomja village is 2.5-hour drive from Tawang and located in the vicinity of the International Border with Bhutan. Cheques worth Rs 40.4 crore were distributed by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu provided by the Ministry of Defence. The village falls under Khandu’s home constituency Mukto.

Twenty nine families received a compensation of Rs 1.09 crore each depending on their land area acquired by the army. One family alone received whopping Rs 6.73 crore and another Rs 2.44 crore.

In New Delhi

India’s First Art Book Fair on 24 Feb

If you love a book, cartoon or film’s character or an artist or an author, you can dress up like him/her and try your luck to win a prize. This interesting opportunity will be available at India’s first two-day art book fair which will begin on 24 February. The New Delhi Art Book Fair (NDABF)’s inaugural edition will take place at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) at Mansingh Road. “A competition, organised for the fans on 25 February, will give a chance for all participants to dress up as their favourite character, artists, and authors at the fair. Prizes will be given to the best dressed person,” says a young husband-wife team of Nitesh Rohit and Supriya, both co-founders of this unique fair. The fair is being dedicated to the celebration of the country’s rich arts and culture heritage through the prism of artists and books. It will be open to the public from 12.00 noon to 6.30 pm. There will be special workshops and activities for children.This “free and open” art book fair will be a unique platform to discover India’s vast arts and culture spectrum through diverse panel discussions, workshops, art and book exhibitions, films and much more. It will begin with a talk by a noted art historian, photographer and film maker Benoy K. Behl on his latest book—The Art of India-Sculpture and Mural Painting. Arup Chatterjee will talk about aura of Indian trains and railway stations and its representations in writing, cinema and cultural production with his book—The Purveyors of Destiny: A cultural Biography of Indian Railways.

‘Operation Bluestar’

Bullet Marks On Golden Temple To Be Preserved

Once again, the air is rife with demand to punish some Congress leaders for their alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her two Sikh security men. They had been upset at her asking the army to launch an operation—known as “Bluestar”—to flush out fundamentalists led by Bhindranwale from inside Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the most sacred shrine for Sikhs. Now, the Shriomani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) has hired experts to preserve the saroop (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib that was kept in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple and was damaged with bullets during the 1984 Operation Bluestar. The aim is to preserve the original bullet marks on the cover of the holy script “to keep it as an evidence of the attack”.

This will become part of other evidences, which include the bullet marks that were preserved on the facade of the Teja Singh Samundri Hall and the bullet-riddled rickety structure of one of the entry gates of the shrine adjacent to the Akal Takht.

The SGPC’s chief secretary Dr Roop Singh told The Sunday Guardian that the saroop suffered major damage on its cover and 290 angs (pages) were also hit. The SGPC has been fighting a legal battle against the Central government in the Delhi High Court to claim a compensation of Rs 1,000 crore for the damage that was caused to the Golden Temple and adjoining buildings. The experts began their job of conservation of the bir (holy book) of Guru Granth Sahib some days ago. They are supervised by a panel designated by the SGPC.

“With the passage of time,” says Dr Singh, “the pages are losing strength and require immediate repair. A specially designed paper to blend with the original pages has been arranged from abroad to be pasted on the damaged portion of the pages.” In 1921 also, a saroop was also “damaged.” It was preserved through the identical technique some years ago.

Man Mohan can be contacted at rovingeditor@gmail.com


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