Producer-director Karan Johar’s autobiography An Unsuitable Boy, released earlier this year, has riled quite a few members of the extended Johar clan. They find Johar’s portrayal of his father’s family more fiction than fact. Johar writes that on his paternal side, his relatives were all halwais. His father, he writes, was the only slightly educated member of the clan who could speak English, and that was the reason why he was put at the sales counter and quit shortly afterwards. In fact, Johar’s grandfather, before he started a sweets shop in Delhi, was a government employee in Lahore. His eldest uncle, Ved Prakash Johar, graduated from Government College, Lahore, and was a close friend of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He later got a degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York, and joined the IAS. Another uncle was in the Army. A college-educated aunt became a teacher. Only one uncle was a halwai and ran a flourishing sweetmeat shop and restaurant called Nanking in Connaught Place, Delhi. Furious at the cinematic licence of making out a rags-to-riches tale, the husband of one of Johar’s cousins, Supreme Court senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, is contemplating suing Johar and the publisher for defaming the whole family.
Room at the top
The RJD was plunged into gloom after the Supreme Court ordered further trial in the fodder scam cases against Lalu Prasad. Since the cases are listed in five different places, Lalu will have to move from one court to another. During Lalu’s stint in a Ranchi jail in 2013, he had been treated as a VIP visitor. He held court there and had home-cooked meals brought to him daily, since then Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren was dependent on Lalu’s five MLAs for survival. But this time, should he be imprisoned, his sojourn will not be so comfortable as there is an unfriendly NDA government in Jharkhand. Bihar politicians are already speculating as to who Lalu will appoint in his absence to head the party. Son Tejashwi is Bihar’s deputy chief minister but Lalu fears he may be influenced by Nitish Kumar or turn out to be another Akhilesh Yadav. Eldest son Tej Pratap Yadav, although a minister, is considered a total non-performer. Daughter Misa, an MP, expects to be made party chief, but wife Rabri, who finishes her six years in the Bihar Legislative Council next year, could also replace her husband.
Despite the warm hugs between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the former’s visit to India, there were some hiccups. The Indian foreign office was thoughtless enough to schedule a trip by the Cypriot President just a day earlier, though ties between Turkey and Cyprus are very strained. Erdogan, in turn, vented his displeasure at his hosts, remarking that Kashmir could be solved through a multilateral approach. Whether as a peace offering or as the customary gift, the Turkish dictator later presented Modi a white gold-plated pen with his name inscribed on it.
Prime Minister Modi is to visit Amarkantak, the source of the Narmada river that lies between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in Madhya Pradesh, on Monday. Modi’s visit coincides with the conclusion of MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s 100-day Narmada conservation yatra. But Modi will not fly directly to Amarkantak, instead doing the last lap of 100 km by road. Locals claim that whoever flies over Amarkantak loses power shortly. They cite the examples of Indira Gandhi, Moraji Desai and Uma Bharti. Clearly, the organisers of Modi’s travel plans kept in mind the Amarkantak superstition.
Arvind Kejriwal is convinced that BJP president Amit Shah is plotting to topple the AAP government in Delhi and that Shah’s intermediary is in touch with some members of his party. Suspicion of being Shah’s agent originally fell on Kumar Vishwas, a founder-member of AAP, who, along with several AAP MLAs, had criticised a “coterie” around Kejriwal for taking decisions unilaterally.
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Wary of Vishwas, Kejriwal did not permit him to campaign during the Punjab elections, and Amanatullah Khan, an MLA, described Vishwas as a BJP and RSS agent. Fearing Vishwas might retaliate, Kejriwal changed tack and tried to assuage Vishwas by making him in-charge of the party’s Rajasthan unit and suspending Khan. However, when trouble finally erupted, it was not from Vishwas but Kapil Mishra, a senior MLA and friend of Vishwas who accused Kejriwal of accepting `2 crore from his minister. AAP MLAs now recall that Mishra’s mother is a BJP member.