Believe it or not!

If the Americans have one Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, we have three.

The only difference between Mr Robert Ripley’s cartoons and the Indian versions is that there’s nothing to see, you’ve got to hear them to believe – or not.

The oldest of the three but not necessarily the most famous is Beni’s Believe It Or Not!

Named after a septuagenarian Congress survivor from UP, the protagonist has a penchant for putting both his feet in the mouth and on a good day only spits out colourful abuses at his political adversaries.

But on a bad day, Beni could blast his own PM calling him too old to rule or invoke the EC’s wrath by treading on the same “model” path that a fellow Congressman had followed and fallen.

Giving him competition is a regal Congressman from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh with his own series — Diggy’s Believe It Or Not.

Now this character is in a different mould. Diggy doesn’t believe in treading on anyone else’s path not even his party’s path, he walks alone.

For instance, in a city like Delhi, if his party hurriedly walks away from a landmark building called Bathla House he chooses to walk towards it.

Some say there’s a method to his madness which they say is chalked out at a certain house on a certain street in the Capital.

But the piece de resistance of course is Didi’s Believe It Or Not. It could also be Didi’s comedy show, but let’s not be too uncharitable.

Our Didi has gone on from being an agitator to a perpetually agitated chief minister who is paranoid about even looking to her left.

So much so that she blamed the death of infants in government hospitals on the Left rule saying the kids were conceived before she came to power!

Courtesy: This article was published in the Whiplash column in my newspaper the Mail Today.



A Mafia thriller called NRHM

Courtesy: This article appeared in the Whiplash column of Mail Today

As most scams go this one too had money meant for the poor plundered by politicians, bureaucrats and middleman.

It goes by the name of National Rural Health Mission Scam or the NRHM scam as it is lovingly called by the media and other stakeholders – the accused, the suspects, the investigators and those politicians who couldn’t be a part of it.

The scam took place in Mayawati’s Uttar Pradesh where a huge chunk of central funds meant for the healthcare needs of the people of the state disappeared, as always, without a trace.

And then like in all scams the CBI was called in to investigate.

If you have read this far you must be yawning and telling yourself “yes I know” that’s pretty much how most scams appear then disappear from public memory till a new one catches attention.

One would have moved on too had it not been for an event at a place called Lakhimpur Kheri that suddenly grabbed attention.

A state health department clerk, an accountant to be precise, was found dead on Wednesday – officials refused to call it a murder till the autopsy report says so.

A minor event till you realize that this is the sixth “unnatural death” reported one after the other in the past one year of those being investigated in the NRHM scam.

Four of them were doctors, one engineer and the latest victim is a lowly clerk whose wife alleges that a CBI team had come to meet him before he disappeared a week ago.

The wife also alleges that his superior was pressuring him to sign certain files related to the NRHM scam and that he felt his life was in danger.

Six deaths – two murdered, one found dead in his prison cell, one kills himself, another dies in an accident and the latest one has murder written all over him.

Sounds like a Bollywood potboiler or a Mario Puzo mafia novel in which the don eliminates at will all those who could spill the beans against him.

Could this really be the case?

PS: In the absence of an original post taking the easy way out!