A HOUSE FOR MR MUKHER­JEE

India Today - - SIGNATURE -

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)

Pranab Mukher­jee

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.

SAU­RABH SINGH / www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

KAVEREE BAMZAI

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