Below The Line

Our Bureaus | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 12, 2017

Omar Abdullah Sporting spirit

Ruffling feathers

It’s not just Omar Abdullah who is asking “How the hell did almost all the experts/analysts miss this wave in UP? It’s a tsunami not a ripple.” This, and his tweets on March 11 — “In a nutshell there is no leader today with a pan India acceptability who can take on Modi & the BJP in 2019. At this rate we might as well forget 2019 & start planning/hoping for 2024” —ruffled feathers. However, his response — “The ‘ruffled feathers’ are an unfortunate byproduct. The aim was to get someone/anyone to sit up & take note. That’s happened so job done” — showed he was a graceful competitor.

Loaded message

The Chinese embassy held a Holi reception for the first time after almost a decade in collaboration with the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia. The Chinese envoy, Luo Zhaohui, while lauding the fact that the Indian media pays more attention to China and China-India relations, also said that in the course of promoting “better understanding” between the countries the Indian media should report on their relations in a “more balanced way” — diplomats, correspondents also have a social responsibility, he pointed out.


There’s intense competition among senior leaders in the Congress for the coveted post of chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. The third term of KV Thomas, the incumbent chairman, ends on March 31. The term is usually limited to two years; Thomas was lucky to get three. The panel considered more than 100 CAG reports in that time.

Now, it appears Mallikarjun Kharge, Kamal Nath and Veerappa Moily are eyeing the post because a number of CAG reports on Modi’s schemes, including demonetisation, are expected in the next two years, and will naturally attract attention. Thomas’ recent statements that even the Prime Minister can be summoned before the panel is seen as the Congress’s plan to take on the Centre. However, insiders feel Sonia Gandhi will repose faith in Thomas again.

Currency situation

The other day, an MP asked the Finance Minister in the Lok Sabha if the Government was planning to set up more printing presses in Madhya Pradesh to overcome the delays in printing new notes, and if it would consider setting up one in his constituency.

Arun Jaitley immediately retorted saying one of the objectives of demonetisation was to reduce the paper currency while increasing digitisation, and so there was no need for MPs to make such demands. Got the message!

Crossing the line

Protecting one’s source of information is sacred to a journalist. So when an industry lobby demanded to know from where a particular journalist had got information for a particular story, he naturally refused to divulge the name. This did not go down well. The lobby group responded by withdrawing an invite given to the journalist for cocktails and dinner it had organised later this month.

It needs to understand that the way into a scribe’s mind is not through the stomach. If it wants its point of view to be heard and communicated, it would do better to be polite and respectful.

Looming presence

Vijay Mallya may no longer be the boss of the country’s largest liquor company, United Spirits, but traces of his presence are palpable in the company’s headquarters. Copies of a coffee-table book brought out on the occasion of his 50th birthday lie in the lobby, along with those of the film magazine, CineBlitz. The magazine was brought out by a publishing house owned by Mallya, which also brought out a daily newspaper. There is a large model of a Kingfisher Airlines aircraft hanging from the ceiling. There is nothing in the lobby to suggest that USL’s ownership has changed hands.

Published on March 12, 2017

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