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Indraprastha

Virendra Kapoor is a political commentator based in Delhi
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Post-election blues, satta bazaar and Arun Jaitley's health

HAVE YOU NOTICED the WhatsApp traffic has dropped overnight following the Lok Sabha polls? At least three politically oriented groups—I happen to be a passive member of all three but can’t remember who made me a member —no longer crowd my ancient Apple device with texts and videos related to the just-concluded elections. The BJP having won a spectacular victory, the inventive minds which came up with startling tidbits, comments and morphed pictures of their heroes and villains, often relying on popular Bollywood songs to make them colourful, seem to have succeeded in their objective. I am sure Amit Shah will find ways to reward his party’s social media cell which made a useful contribution towards cementing his reputation as a poll organiser par excellence. In fact, two WhatsApp cartoons acknowledge his mastery of poll management. One shows him standing with Modi, with the latter saying: ‘Paagal ho gaya hai. Kehta hai chalo America mein chunaav ladtey hain.’ Another has Donald Trump on the phone with Modi, ‘Hi Prime Minister, can you loan me the services of your Amit Shah… I have a tough re-election coming up later in the year…’ Of course, the unending chatter detracts me as it would anyone holding a cell phone in his hand, especially when alerted constantly to the arrival of another SMS or email or scintillating WhatsApp conversation. Without doubt, much of the stuff on WhatsApp groups emanated from social media networks linked to political parties, but individual group members lent it a sharper edge with new insights to spice up the political fare. The distraction was well worth my time. And, to tell you the truth, I am beginning to find a void in my waking hours.

IT IS HUMAN to gamble. Some of my acquaintances bet on the outcome of the polls. Well, one wagered Rs 2 lakh on the Bharatiya Janata Party not getting 300 seats. Even if a Modi bhakt, you have to be reckless to bet such a large sum on what then had seemed to be a most unlikely outcome. But he did. And won. The loser, I am told, is a journalist who was actually fronting for a businessman-friend. Again, another friend taken in by the satta bazaar projection thought it safe to bet the BJP would not cross 247. The fellow is now poorer by Rs 2 lakh. Of course, no notebandi could have intervened in such cash transactions. Meanwhile, the winners are hosting dinners for their extended circle of friends. Incidentally, Arun Jaitley had got it slightly wrong, having told TV anchor Navika Kumar and me that the BJP would win 304 seats. Actually, its tally was 303.

BAD HEALTH HAS rendered Arun Jaitley unavailable for active political life till he recovers fully. Though he provided inputs to the BJP election teams and wrote blogs, he has been told to disengage fully from all activity. Yet some of his own party colleagues spread wild rumours about his health, even suggesting the worst. You don’t wish death even for your worst enemies but such ghoulish characters with high ambitions are not so scarce. Sonia Gandhi’s illness a couple of years ago did not incite the kind of morbid talk as did Jaitley’s. But then, Sonia Gandhi’s position as the Congress boss was never up for grabs regardless of her state of health while Jaitley’s unavailability for whatever reason would have created an opening on which quite a few have had their gaze fixed for long. In my book, it matters little whether you are a good professional, a good politician or, say, a good actor. Far more important is whether you are a good human being. Sorry to say, rumour-spreaders have to be terrible human beings.

THE SUPREME Court-appointed committee for policing the capital for illegal building activity seems to be a law unto itself. It is hard to make sense of its actions. Take the closure of one of the nicest eating places in Lutyens’ Delhi. Lodi, as the restaurant was called, offered a fine-dining experience. Popular with the ‘Khan Market gang’ and the large diplomatic community, it was ordered shut. Though it posed no nuisance, was no fire or health hazard and was nestled quietly in a corner of the sprawling Lodhi Garden. In sharp contrast, the grave fire and health hazards screaming out loud from the Khan Market eateries which have no proper emergency escape for patrons and lack hygienic conditions for cooking go unnoticed. Modi was right in chastising the Khan Market gang for feeling entitled.

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