Inside track

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October 11, 2015 12:40 AM

Unlike other politicians who called on the bereaved family of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri, Noida, UP, CM Akhilesh Yadav preferred to ask the grieving family to visit him in Lucknow so that he could offer his condolences. There is a belief in UP that a CM who visits Noida loses his post shortly afterwards. Yadav seems to take the Noida jinx story seriously

The Noida jinx
Unlike other politicians who called on the bereaved family of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri, Noida, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav preferred to ask the grieving family to visit him in Lucknow so that he could offer his condolences. Yadav’s political rivals accused the CM of insulting the family and alleged that Yadav, an engineer who prides himself on his modernity, was swayed by superstition. There is a belief in UP that a CM who visits Noida  loses his post shortly afterwards. Yadav seems to take the Noida jinx story seriously. He has assiduously avoided visiting the city even when his presence was required. He inaugurated the Yamuna Expressway by pushing the button from Lucknow. He inaugurated Greater Noida development projects and laid the foundation stone of a university through remote control from Lucknow. Yadav inaugurated Nasscom’s Noida headquarters sitting in a hotel in Delhi. The Noida jinx myth goes back nearly two decades, starting with chief minister Vir Bahadur Singh in 1988. His successor ND Tiwari similarly lost his chief ministership shortly after visiting Noida. The superstitious will recount how Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kalayan Singh were all victims of the Noida curse. Politicians refuse to settle for the more rational explanation that, in fact, no UP chief minister for the last 20 years has had a consecutive term.

Shotgun ignored
Bihar is probably the most politically aware Indian state, and news channels are as keenly watched as entertainment channels. A  Hindi TV anchor can actually draw larger crowds than a film star. The Congress has nominated the brother of a popular Hindi TV anchor in the state for the party ticket from a constituency in Champaran. In contrast, Bihar’s favourite film star Shatrughan Sinha is being ignored by his party. Sinha had no say in the BJP’s ticket distribution and is  not invited to address rallies. This is not surprising considering that he has been openly flirting with the JD(U). He seems to have more clout in the JD(U) than his own party. Ranjit Singh, who failed to get the JD(U) ticket for the Digha seat in Patna, blames Sinha and Pavan Varma for scuttling his chances.

Not sole attraction
Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu has pulled out all the stops for the foundation ceremony of the state’s new capital, Amaravathi, on October 22. He has reportedly opened the purse strings and hired a PR firm to drum up publicity for the event. Although land for the new capital is still being acquired, it is claimed that Amaravathi will eventually outrival the national capital in the grandeur of its official buildings. Naidu has invited the prime ministers of Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia to attend the ceremony. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been invited, but it is uncertain whether he will attend. Modi likes to occupy centrestage and his advisers fear that the spotlight may not be turned on him as much as he would want on the occasion.
Saudi image fix
The actions of some of its diplomats have put Saudi Arabia in a difficult position. Their diplomat in Delhi, who allegedly kept two Nepalese maids hostage and raped them, left the country only a week after indignant activists raised a hue and cry and the MEA conveyed its displeasure to the embassy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly has second thoughts about a proposed trip to Saudi Arabia later this year. The Saudi authorities have also earned much flak for the recent Haj stampede, which killed some 1,000 pilgrims. A Saudi diplomat had to leave  the UK after he was accused of molesting his host’s daughter. The Saudi government desperately needs an image makeover. Some Saudi embassies, including the one in India, have put out the word that they are looking for PR firms to improve the country’s image.

Pecking order
BJP ministers seem chary of attending dinner parties thrown by foreign diplomats based in Delhi, while former UPA ministers such as Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari, Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor are happy to accept such invitations. As former ministers, they get seated at the head of the table. The BJP is usually represented by BJP-friendly journalists and lawyers. As per protocol, they are put lower down in the seating order. By ignoring the invitations of the envoys, the NDA ministers are missing an opportunity to informally get the government’s views across. Instead, the diplomats get a surfeit of views on what’s wrong with Indian policies from Congress representatives.

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