Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal (file photo) | Twitter/@sarbanandsonwal
File photo of Union shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal | Twitter/@sarbanandsonwal
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Sonowal’s philosophy on politicians and their fate — ‘Aaj phoolon ka mala, kal joote ka

It is not often that a minister in the Government of India, that too a cabinet minister, is as forthcoming as Union shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal, when it comes to talking about the uncertainties of politics and political fortunes. Senior officers in the shipping ministry were somewhat taken aback when they got a glimpse of it firsthand during one of their introductory meetings with the minister.

Sonowal told his officers that politicians should always remain grounded and never get carried away because one never knows which way their political fortunes will turn. “Aaj haamare gale me phoolon ka mala hain, kal joote ka mala ho sakta hai (today we are garlanded with flowers, tomorrow instead of flowers it can be shoes),” Sonowal told his bureaucratic colleagues in the ministry.

Coming from a cabinet minister, the frank admission left many officers squirming in their seats. Their unease grew further during the course of their interaction when the minister, who had bought a notebook and pen, jotted down details of officers like their names and which place they come from. Many officers have been left wondering about what fate lies ahead for them.

Also read: 5 ministers, including a first from Tripura — how Team Modi revamp boosts BJP’s NE mission

When VVIPs get together, masks go flying out the window

Last week has been hectic for air traffic controllers on the Delhi-Bengaluru, Delhi-Hubballi and Hubballi-Bengaluru routes. After all, VVIPs were flying in and out of cities to participate in Union Minister Pralhad Joshi’s daughter’s wedding and the three receptions that followed in these three cities.

What stood out during the tête-à-tête was how our elected representatives — right from Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai — threw caution to the air and forgot all about social distancing and masks. Has the pandemic ended? Well, definitely not when you see common citizens being fined on the roads for not wearing masks. To their credit, some leaders came to venues with masks on but took them off after seeing their top party bosses without them.

CM Bommai arrived at Hubballi airport wearing a mask but Shah landed without one. In a series of photos clicked at an event to felicitate freedom fighters in Davanagere, Bommai is captured removing his mask to keep Shah company – almost like a flipbook moving animation. Out of the seven elected representatives on the stage, only two were seen in masks.

Cut to the wedding itself, not one person was wearing a mask on the dais that had at least 30 people. While Shah stood without a mask, Bommai who walked up the stage with a mask on, took it off to pose for cameras, much like what Prime Minister Narendra Modi did at the reception hosted in New Delhi on 7 September.

It wasn’t just the wedding dais but post-wedding meetings where masks were almost like a taboo. Photos shared by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president Tejasvi Surya on his social media pages showed him and Karnataka BJP state vice president B.Y. Vijayendra meeting and greeting Shah in the latter’s room and yet again, masks were kaput. The young MP had also posted a picture of him along with the state BJP leaders taking a flight back from Hubballi post the wedding. Ironically, a standee of ‘Wear masks, ensure social distancing’ stood right in the background as the leaders smiled broadly with their masks off. After the irony was pointed out, the MP has deleted the photo since but hey, we caught it in time.

Also read: Senior Karnataka BJP leaders upset as one-month-old CM Bommai gets Amit Shah stamp for 2023


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