A HOUSE FOR MR MUKHERJEE
My dear Shoniaji, I hope, as someone who has worked very closely with your mother- in- law, you will allow me to call you that.
I am writing this to you at 1 a. m., after a day of meetings. There were meetings of three Group of Ministers ( GOM), of the 25 of which you have made me chairman because, as Renuka Chowdhuryji says, I am so “valuable”. She also says she is a big fan of mine which I find somewhat alarming. There was also an unscheduled appointment with Vodafone officials, sent by the Prime Minister because I am so “irreplaceable”. It is late, but I am not complaining. You know after Ma Durga, it is politics I most love. Parliamentary procedure, constitutional law, the cut and thrust of debate, the measurement of how far Mamata Banerjee will go, yes all the reasons that make me so indispensable. Or to use a strange new term that my favourite writer Tarashankar Bandopadhyay would have found incomprehensible but which Salman Khurshid used last week, I am “The Wall”, like a chap called Rahul Dravid.
I am reminded of the curious case of the Colombian finance minister, whom we had nominated to become convener of a G24 sub group in Washington DC in April, but did not appoint because his president couldn’t “spare” him.
Well, since I am now a globally acclaimed troubleshooter ( people in Dhaka were asking me about this), may I suggest some solutions to your dilemma about Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The easiest by far. Make me prime minister and send Manmohan Singhji to Rashtrapati Bhavan. He loves to travel abroad and will achieve far more than Pratibhaji did after spending Rs 230 crore.
Why not constitute a GOM on the search for a president and put my esteemed colleague P. Chidambaram in charge? He will ensure that my name is top of the list since he is very keen to have my job, and you will have a consensus candidate.
On May 13, Parliament will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its first sitting. Why not hold a secret ballot that day and ask MPS from across all parties whom they would like to see as president?
Frankly, I have been living in 13, Talkatora Road since the time Tarun Gogoiji became chief minister of Assam. He left and I moved in. Everyone needs a bit more space.
Ask A. K. Antonyji whether he wants to be president. Don’t tell him, or he will say yes. For once, please, just ask, as an experiment. I don’t think he’d be happy to be president. I don’t want to be impolite, but what will he do when he has to address the nation?
I would really like to edit my memoirs. As you can appreciate, it has been a long political career. It would be nice to have a book launch at Ashoka Hall.
Finally, if I promise to resolve your budget deficit, will you resolve our trust deficit?
I do not wish to say more. It is late. I have a round of meetings with industrialists tomorrow to resolve the governance deficit.
Yours, ( With the assurance that I will serve the finest Bengali sandesh for high tea when we meet in my new home)
WHY NOT CONSTITUTE A GOM ON THE SEARCH FOR A PRESIDENT AND PUT P. CHIDAMBARAM IN CHARGE? HE WILL ENSURE THAT MY NAME IS TOP OF THE LIST SINCE HE IS VERY KEEN TO HAVE MYJOB, AND YOU WILL HAVE A CONSENSUS CANDIDATE.