The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India’s Holi cows

New Delhi, March 2: While you trudge back to work on Monday, members of Parliament will enjoy another Holi day.

After a week in which MPs have done little but stall the House over Quattrocchi and Mulayam, they have got the day off for Holi, the festival of colours that will be celebrated over the weekend.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who announced the holiday in the Lok Sabha, made it clear he was not a “willing partner” to the decision.

“Greetings will be in order if some work gets done here,” he snapped when MPs greeted him with Holi Mubarak.

But he was in a minority.

Most MPs from the north — 200 from the Lok Sabha and 60 from the Upper House, cutting across party lines — who had been lobbying with Somnath and Rajya Sabha chairperson Bhairon Singh Shekhawat all of last week for the holiday, were elated.

Janardhan Dwivedi, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP, was offended when asked if it was fair for MPs to give themselves a holiday when precious working hours had been lost last week — and when the rest of India would be working.

“What kind of a question is this' Holi is a very important festival in large parts of the country and members from far-flung places need time to travel back to the capital,” he said.

“Parliament can always be rescheduled. But why deprive us of all the fun'” chimed in Samajwadi Party’s Veerendra Bhatia, whose party had forced repeated adjournments against the Supreme Court order for a CBI probe into Mulayam Singh Yadav’s wealth.

A couple of days ago, the Lok Sabha business advisory committee had met to consider the demand but rejected it, sources said. Other than the Speaker, Left MPs and those from the south did not want the day off.

But Shekhawat, who headed a BJP government in Rajasthan before he became Vice-President and is now eyeing the President’s chair, yesterday called up Somnath and told him the Rajya Sabha had decided there would be no sitting on Monday, the sources added. The Speaker tried to reason with him, but failed.

The BJP, which stalled the House repeatedly over Ottavio Quattrocchi, will be only too happy. The election wins in Punjab and Uttarakhand have added more zing to its Holi celebrations, always colourful.

Unlike Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh who allow only a touch of gulal, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani go all out, with Advani’s daughter Pratibha dunking callers with buckets of water.

BJP-baiter Lalu Prasad, too, should be in full form — dholak and all, like every Holi.

“Look, we need a whole day to recover,” declared Ram Kirpal Yadav, from Lalu’s RJD, justifying the holiday after the festival. What about the rest of India, which can’t give itself a holiday at will'

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