Below the line

Updated: Feb 1 2006, 05:30am hrs
It doesnt always pay to boast of economic growth, as West Bengals chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee discovered. When Sharad Pawar, Union minister for agriculture, food and the public distribution system, praised the Left Front government for lifting large numbers of people above the poverty line (this was at a conference of eastern states on the targeted PDS), Bhattacharjee could not see the blow coming. Pawar announced the Centre was slashing the list of people entitled to below-poverty-line (BPL) ration cards in the state by 32%. Realising the pat on the back could be fatal in this Mays assembly elections, Bhattacharjee pleaded with Pawar to include more people in the BPL list. In fact, the number of ration cards issued (8.15 crore) is more than the population (8.02 crore). Pawar was quick to point out the contradiction: if the government had steadily lifted more people above the poverty line, why ask for more cards

Spicy ascent

There could not have been anything more spicy for this member of the Spices Board from Andhra Pradesh who sat through the deliberations on the first two days of the World Spice Congress in Chennai. The meet has a history of leaders taking part in it being shunted to the sidelines soon after. But it was the other way round this time. A call from Delhi saw D Puran-deswari rush in haste to take the oath of office as a Union minister the next morning.

Bloodline hook

Never has ex-chief minister AK Antony been accused of going after successor Oommen Chandys blood. Yet, this is literally what his 20-year-old son is after. When young Anil Kurien Antony recently invited the CM for a function, Mr Chandy was taken aback by the sight of his austere colleagues son in white shirt and striped tie, in his avatar of founder-director of an IT-start-up Torque. Its exciting to see engineering students setting up technology companies, he appreciatively commented.

Taking him at his word, Anil opened his laptop and anno-unced the CMs name for registering in Fastblood, a blood donors network. Mr Chandy looked flabbergasted. Does that mean the youngster can haul me up anytime now to donate blood he was heard whispering.