“Picture abhi baki hai,” because the threat letter recovered from the explosive gelatine sticks-laden SUV parked outside Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai house said: “Yeh sirf trailer hai.” We will come back to the trailer in a bit. First, let’s go to the Election Commission that has made a habit out of showing the big picture with minute details before coming to the point for which its press conferences are watched. But we will let Sunil Arora have it because this was his last press conference before he demits the office of the Chief Election Commissioner on April 13, which too was part of today's press conference.
The point of the press conference was the announcement of election dates in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. Before we get to the dates, let us tell you what happened in poll-bound states. Just hours before the dates were announced, Mamata Banerjee announced a hike in minimum wages in the state and then offered prayers to Lord Jagannath. West Bengal is going to keep all Gods busy because all Gods will also be made to participate in election campaigns. As part of her campaign for the BJP, Smriti Irani did a Mamata-in-Kolkata act in Mamata’s state. If you said copy cat, we heard you.
The Tamil Nadu government announced a gold loan waiver scheme as soon as it heard model code of conduct is hours away and once it covers the way, no new scheme can be announced.
The Election Commission announced elections will be held between March 27 and April 29. Results will be announced on May 2.
West Bengal will vote in eight phases because there are security concerns. Concerns over the safety and security of Ambanis, the Mukesh Ambani side - not the Anil Ambani side, have increased the security outside Antilia, which is a whole residential society packed across 27 floors. How to run a house as big as that? With a staff strength of over 600 people. On the ground, outside Ambani’s Antilia, stood the SUV with 20 explosive gelatine sticks with the threat letter.
The SUV was a stolen one and the original owner had filed a complaint about the theft. So, the good news is that the original owner may get his car back. Antilia, meanwhile, has got more security. Mukesh Ambani already has Z-plus security, the highest that the government of India provides to any individual. And yes, Ambani pays for what he is provided because he also has the money to provide for others. Leave that to that. Let’s talk about the sticks. The gelatin sticks we mean. The investigating agencies have said these aren’t the military-grade gelatin but commercial-grade, used in construction-related digging. Let us dig deeper into gelatin. A woman today was nabbed with 117 gelatin sticks. She also had over 300 detonators. Where was the woman? On a train in Kerala. Where does the word gelatin come from?
Gelatin, the Word Of The Day, comes from Latin word gelatos, which means ‘jellied, frozen’. The first use of gelatin was found in Egyptian times after gelatin was found in a pharaoh grave. Gelatin is a translucent, colourless, flavourless food ingredient made by boiling animal bones. You can turn gelatin into jelly or film for cameras. The gelatin used to blow up mountains and people is all chemicals. What gives it the name gelatin is its jelly-like form and water-resistance.
Since we are talking bombs and explosions, let us just remind you that two years ago it was today that the Indian Air Force dropped bombs on Pakistan’s terrorist hideouts in Balakot. Pakistan, you know, went showing crow carcasses for dead because how could it show it had terrorists on the region under its control?
You know the rest about the Balakot airstrike but do you know when the world’s first airstrike was struck? On November 1 in 1911. Italian aviator Second Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti dropped four bombs on two bases in Libya that were held by Turkey. That was during the Italo-Turkish War. Four years later, World War I began and over the next four years of the war, airstrikes became a norm in warfare. In 1999, when Pakistan started the Kargil War, India desisted from the use of air power because the use of more power causes more damage and leads to a longer war. Also, why use more power when you can win using lesser power. Maybe because you have more power. You have it, you use it. Why save it, when you won’t someday, or any day, share it.
But we want to go back to the war because the war suddenly seems to be moving towards peace. India and China are disengaging and India and Pakistan have announced in a rare joint statement that operations along the borders are being brought to a halt. What’s cooking? Some say the recipe lies with US President Joe Biden. If Biden wants peace in the Indian sub-continent, why is he bombing Syria? Biden directed US military airstrikes in eastern Syria against facilities belonging to what the Pentagon said were Iran-backed militia just 36 days after taking over from Donald Trump. Many say that is because the US' weapons industry needs war to keep itself alive.
Countries may or may not be ready for war, but all time is a good time for peace. Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail authorities say they are ready to welcome back diamantaire Nirav Modi. A special cell is ready for Nirav because India has to convince the UK that he will be dealt well and with fairness. Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, who appeared before the UK court listening to Nirav Modi’s extradition case as an expert witness, told the court that he was unlikely to receive a “free and fair trial in India”.
The court raised questions over Kajtu’s ‘personal agenda’ and Katju shot down the questions saying “saying that I have personal agenda is wholly untrue”.
On that note, we will take your leave for the day and what remains of the weekend. All-rounder Yusuf Pathan has taken leave from all formats of cricket. Can one really retire from gali cricket? Most begin playing there and most never retire from it.
Play your sport and give up your games.
Stay good. See you Monday.