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Posted at: Aug 13, 2017, 12:42 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2017, 1:34 AM (IST)HERE & NOW: AS I PLEASE

Ansari’s farewell ended on sour note

By K. Natwar Singh
The former Vice-President should have sensed the intolerant mood and avoided plunging into troubled waters
Ansari’s farewell ended on sour note
FORMER Vice-President Hamid Ansari's farewell function, unfortunately, ended on a sour note. He was openly criticised for the speech he made on August 9. The Prime Minister and Ansari's successor hauled him over the coals in public. A little tolerance would have done no harm to the BJP top brass. Perhaps Ansari could have avoided plunging into troubled waters in the manner he did. He should have sensed the intolerant mood, all too event these days. He spoke the truth.

Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister for 17 years, the maker of modern India, who spent nine and a half years in British prisons. Gandhiji said in the 1930s, "Jawaharlal, not Rajaji, will be my successor." Not mentioning his name in the Quit India function on August 9 was a glaring omission.   

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Jairam Ramesh set the cat among the Congress pigeons by his interview in which he rightly pointed out that the Congress party was in the middle of an existential crisis. Some over enthusiastic Congress sycophants directed their wrath on Ramesh, one of the very few outspoken intellectuals in the Congress party. Only Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke up for him. If the Congress that is in a very serious crisis, perhaps the worst in recent decades, is to revive, serious sustained introspection is, to use a cliché, the need of the hour. At this rate the Prime Minister will have a walkover in 2019.

To crow over the "victory" of Ahmed Patel in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election is displaying immaturity. Ahmed made it by the skin of his teeth. One swallow does not a summer make. It must be said to his credit that he has shown exemplary restraint. So has Sonia Gandhi. The Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held very soon. These are crucial for the Congress. If it does well, then revival will be seen on the horizon. Otherwise it is downhill all the way.

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Dilip Kumar is one of our glories. Perhaps the greatest film actor India has produced. Millions of his fans must be praying for his recovery from his latest illness. He is 95 and has a fading memory.

I cannot claim intimacy but I do know him. His autobiography, which came out in 2014, is a gem. How well he writes. Nothing trivial has entered his long life. He speaks several languages. His Urdu is quite something.

I first met him in 1975 in London. He took me to see “Hare” in which James Stewart was the only person on the stage with a huge stuffed hare. I remember Dilip Kumar telling me, "This is great acting."

Before becoming a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha in 2001, I took him to see Sonia Gandhi. There was no meeting of minds but mutual courtesy made it a memorial meeting.

Madhubala and he were the stars of Mughal-e-Azam. The audience thought in real life they were lovers. Not so. Dilip Kumar writes in his autobiography that by the end of the film they were not on talking terms. 

Last week I met the Governor of Punjab, VP Singh Badnore, at a family function in Delhi for the first time. We had a stimulating conversation for three quarter of an hour. He is an immensely likeable person with no gubernatorial airs. We got on very well. I asked him how old he was, "Too young to be Governor." He is 16 years younger to me.

We were both at Mayo College, Ajmer, and we had much to talk about. Even in a brief tete-a-tete, I could not miss his refined austerity and unfailing verbal resource. He comes from a well-known Rajput family from southern Rajasthan and wears a colourful turban. The other day he sent a book to me on an ancestor of his, the well-known Rao Jaimul Medtiya. Being the conceited person that I am, I sent him my autobiography, "One Life is Not Enough". What is comforting is that the Governor and the Chief Minister of Punjab are on the same wave length.

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North Korea is the most isolated country in the world. It is also the most “closed” country. Its ruler (dictator) Kim Jong-un is not yet 30 but is beyond criticism, beyond being questioned and he has no idea of what the world is beyond Pyongyang. Why is North Korea an international problem? Because it possesses nuclear weapons. Its leader is not only irresponsible, he is also reckless. The United States could pulverise North Korea in less than a minute. A nuclear war would inevitably be catastrophic, it could involve China, Japan, South Korea and Russia. Kim Jong-un, wants to hit Guam, an American base in South Pacific. One hopes he would refrain from doing so. The US response could be immediate and devastating. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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