|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, October 10, 1999
Long-standing rivals now compete
for Cabinet berths
success salient points of Bellary
POLITICS is a weird game. Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma bitter rivals for long have regained their lost glory and both will now sit in the Lok Sabha in the ruling party benches but their rivalry does not seem to have ended. Both are bound to be claimants for berths in the Vajpayee Government. Khurana had quit the Cabinet and also resigned from the partys National Executive posing as a supporter of the Prime Minister on the Christian missionary issue. Sahib Singh, having been unceremoniously ousted and replaced by Sushma Swaraj as Delhis Chief Minister a month before the assembly elections last year, was promised a berth in the Union Cabinet. The promise remains to be fulfilled.
Eyebrows were raised when Khurana was implicated in the hawala case and replaced by Sahib Singh as Delhi Chief Minister in February, 1996. Having been absolved in the case, Khurana was expecting to be reinstated but was disappointed as the BJPs central leadership declined to oblige him. His sharp comment then was: The court has discharged me but my party leaders continue to regard me guilty. So bitter against Sahib Singh was he that he quit the post of partys Vice-President and turned down the offer to lead the BJPs poll campaign in Delhi till the CM was removed.
While Khurana has been winning elections from Delhi since 1989, Sahib Singh made his debut in the Lok Sabha for the first time with a record margin of over two lakh votes. Khuranas margin over his Congress rival, Jagdish Tytler, has, however, been slender only 13,852 votes. Till now Khurana has been virtually uncrowned king of Delhi having edged out powerful leaders such as HKL Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar. He may have now a rival in Sahib Singh, who has emerged as a powerful Jat leader in Outer Delhi.
Though both BJP leaders come from a different background, they have one common trait in their personality they are stubborn and do not change their mind easily. Both have, at one stage, revolted against the BJPs leadership. While Khurana originally hails from undivided Punjab and came to India after Partition, Sahib Singh was born in a peasants family in West Delhi. Both began their careers as RSS activists and came up the hard way.
While Khurana was a teacher and later worked in the staff of the now-defunct Hindustan Samachar, a bilingual news agency. Sahib Singh was a librarian in a local college.
Khurana had to struggle his way in life till he rose to fame and glory. The gory days of Partition are still fresh in his mind.When his family landed in Delhi he was a 11-year-old boy. He and his parents had barely survived a brutal attack on the refugee train carrying the evacuees from Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) to Amritsar. The train was attacked by armed marauders at Lahore junction and many of the passengers might have been lynched but for extraordinary courage shown by a Dogra soldier on board. He jumped from coach to coach, reminisces Khurana, to reach the steam locomotive and asked the driver at gunpoint to move on. The refugee special hurtled on but its direction was changed from Amritsar to Ferozepore to ensure safe passage for the displaced persons.
Khurana was born in Lyallpur and house was located between Anarkali Bazar, a predominantly Hindu locality, and Bhawana Bazar, a cent per cent Muslim mohalla. In those days young men of both localities armed with swords, clubs and other lethal weapons raised slogans and attacked each others domain. His family members, recalls Khurana, had traumatic days, always fearing insecure, till one day his father decided to migrate to India.
Khuranas large family parents, uncles, cousins reached Delhi on a truck and were lodged in a refugee camp. Within days the family started searching for shelter and wanted to rent a house. As they moved in the Paharganj area, they found one or two corpses in every house they visited. While his cousins occupied a house, Khuranas father, being a religious man, left Delhi for a peaceful abode and landed at Lalitpur, a tiny town near Jhansi.
Life for a refugee family from Punjab in a remote town of UP was not easy. Initially the Khuranas stayed in a temple and subsequently revived their family business manufacture of soaps. Young Madan Lal took admission in Class V and did his matriculation from there. His fathers business started picking up there and he decided to move to Allahabad, Jawaharlal Nehrus home town, and Khurana enrolled himself in a Christian college and subsequently joined Allahabad University. He came under the spell of Prof Rajendra Singh, alias Rajju Bhaiyya, who headed the Physics Department. Rajju Bhaiyya is now Sarsangh Sanchalak, the highest rank in the RSS hierarchy. The HRD Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, was a research scholar then in the same department.
In 1960 Khurana obtained his masters degree. His father had earlier shifted his business to Delhi and Khurana joined him after completing his education in Allahabad University. He took to teaching, soon strayed into journalism, having worked with Hindustan Samachar, and finally landed in the rough and tumble of politics.
Soft spoken and symbol of simplicity Sahib Singh Verma was born on March 15, 1943 in a peasant family of Mundka village in West Delhi in the National Capital Territory.
An MA in Economics and Library Science, Verma has served in several educational institutions before joining as Librarian at Bhagat Singh College (evening) and was on leave when he became Delhis Chief Minister.
Before joining politics, Verma was an active RSS worker. He won two consecutive elections to the M.C.D. in 1977 and 1983 with a comfortable majority. He played a significant role while serving in the education, electricity and construction committees during his tenure in the M.C.D. house. He was also deputy leader.
Verma contested the
parliamentary election from Outer Delhi in 1991, secured
the votes of backward classes and from the rural areas
but could not make it to the Lok Sabha. Although he could
not win yet he carved out a vote-bank for his party by
sheer hard work and a clean political image, which later
SO what if the BJP stalwart, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, lost to the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, from Bellary? If the Bharatiya Janata Party is to be believed the defeat was actually not a defeat. Mrs Swaraj only lost by 56,100 votes, a party statement titled salient points of Bellary constituency says.
Giving a detailed analysis of the famous constituency, the BJP has pointed out that their candidate actually won in two of the eight Assembly segments in Bellary and the Congress rival could manage only a slender lead in three other constituencies. It is a different question that Mrs Sonia Gandhi had a large lead in three other Assembly constituencies.
Significantly, Mrs Sonia Gandhi polled 36,650 votes less (the less is underlined) than those polled by Congress candidates in the Assembly constituencies of Bellary in Vidhan Sabha elections. The point is well taken. But then as a Congress supporter pointed out what was the big point in blowing up the finer details, especially when they are of no consequence for the results.
The BJP thinks otherwise. It hopes that these details would prompt Mrs Gandhi to leave Bellary and opt for Amethi, the second constituency from where she contested. It could also be a reminder for Mrs Swaraj not to lose touch with the Kannada language, she picked up with surprising ability, at the time of the election campaign. There is always a second chance.
Battle over Sharad Yadav
While the Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav was waging a battle at Madhepura in Bihar, little did he realise that someone in the television networks could be fighting a battle over the right to have him first in their respective studios.
As most television channels ran round-the-clock programme to present news and analyse the election results as they poured in from all over the country, there was acute pressure on leaders too.
In addition to half a dozen domestic channels, there were at least two international channels presenting updates on the Indian elections.
The major political parties had drawn up a panel of spokespersons who would hop from one studio to another to take part in the discussions during the programme.
Everything seemed smooth till the news trickled in that Mr Sharad Yadav would meet officials of the Election Commission to state his case personally. Television networks zeroed-in. As Mr Yadav stepped out of the Nirvachan Sadan, one enterprising lady reporter reminded him of the promise to be present in their studio.
Even as Mr Yadav was preparing to leave, another lady reporter from a rival network chipped in stating that he should give her channel a preference as she had extracted a commitment from him first.
In no time, the two lady reporters of rival networks were engaged in a verbal duel much to the amusement of those present in the presence of Mr Yadav, who quietly slid away from the scene.
Yet the last word was not yet said. The reporter of the first network did a smart take by parking herself in the car of Mr Yadav and virtually hijacked him to her channels studio. Who says netas are not much in demand.
No game for Advani
Recently in the midst of the elections a photograph appeared prominently on the front page of newspapers showing Union Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani, sitting all by himself at the Patna airport VIP lounge and peeping into a gadget. Mr L.K. Advani playing computer games, the caption read.
The fact that Mr Advani was actually going through his digital diary that is commonly used by most people nowadays, was lost in the rush of events.
However, the BJPs chief campaigner who pays attention to detail did not miss out on this one too. At the first available opportunity he sought to correct the erroneous impression that the photograph and its caption had conveyed by stating that he does not play games.
Mr Advani disclosed to a group of mediapersons that in fact he was going through his digital diary to find out telephone numbers of his friends in the city.
Interestingly, as results started trickling in on October 6, the Home Minister was in his teak-panelled chamber in North Block following the trends and also greeting those who dropped by to congratulate him for his victory from Gandhinagar. A traditionalist, he ensured every guest got customary laddoos.
Paralysing the web
As counting of the general elections started on October 6, most people remained glued to the television to get the latest situation as it unfolded.
In addition to the live broadcast/telecast on radio and television the expansion of Internet added a new dimension.
The Election Commission of India which launched its own web site last year, this time decided to expand its services by providing authentic and up-to-date results on the net. It also upgraded its hub since all the 1,500 counting centres were directly linked to Nirvachan Sadan through a maze of computers and other communication devices.
Yet, the EC had not expected the unprecedented response. On day one of counting the site registered 1.25 million hits or visits which led to virtual paralysis. Many people who got across to the site did not leave which resulted in slowing down the response. Ultimately it also led to difficulty in updating the data.
A technology which was aimed at disseminating data at a much swifter rate could not cope up with the volume of traffic.
Gill and Gir lions
Now that the elections are over, the third in as many years, the Chief Election Commissioner, Dr Manohar Singh Gill, plans to take a break from work. And where does he intend to holiday? He has two destinations in mind either the Gir Forest in Gujarat to watch lions or to Ranthambore in Rajasthan and watch the tigers in their natural habitat.
The reason: I feel less scared of the species, he remarked on his choice of venue or is Dr Gill trying to say that the best way to stay away from the ways of our politicians is to be among the wildlife itself?
Race Course hostess
It was a treat the scribes in the Capital will never forget. The occasion was the first meeting of the National Democratic Alliance after its victory in the general elections. With the venue of the meeting being out of bounds for the hordes of scribes, who descended at 7, Race Course Road residence of the Prime Minister to cover the event, they had to spend time waiting outside the PMs house.
With the meeting dragging on for more than an hour, many scribes felt restless. But then help came in the form of Mr Vajpayees adopted daughter, Ms Namrata.
Some scribes who knew her requested for a treat to celebrate Baapjis resounding victory. Playing a perfect hostess and a daughter, the affable lady promptly arranged for laddoos and tea for everybody.
A large section of the reading public that admires superstar Amitabh Bachchan are disappointed with what they call the out-of-reach price of his book Amitabh the legend authored by film journalist, Bhawana Somaaya. Released this week by none other than Mr Bachchan himself, the book has been published by McMillan India Limited. The Editor of the book, Ms Jyoti Sabharwal, denied that people were complaining about the price (Rs 895). People who complain must understand the imperatives of the publishing world. Since the book is a lifetime documentation of a superstar, who has achieved legendary success, one could not have cut corners in terms of production.
WHILE we are decidedly among those who hope for the best and who believe that a real beginning has been made, we cannot agree with the Working Committee of the Congress when it expresses its belief that as a result of the fast and the labours of the Unity Conference mistrust and dissensions between Hindus and Mahomedans will disappear.
The age of miracles is gone by, and it would be nothing short of a miracle if all troubles in connection with this difficult and delicate problem were to disappear just because an important conference has been held and has passed certain resolutions.
Optimism like this can do as great harm by producing a false sense of security as the cynicism of those who have been loudly expressing their disbelief in the utility of the conference and helplessness.
| Punjab | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir |
| Chandigarh | Business | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |