There wasn’t a chance of the debate on foreign direct investment turning into a dull affair, given the fact that the irrepressible Lalu Prasad was in sparkling form. The Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, renowned for his earthy sense of humour, brought a smile on the faces of friends and foes alike with his wit. Prasad’s turn to speak came after Murli Manohar Joshi of the Bharatiya Janata Party spoke against FDI. Prasad, expectedly, was speaking in favour of it. To examine the seriousness of the BJP’s intent, Prasad suddenly asked Joshi to show his watch. He declared that Joshi’s watch was surely of foreign make. But Joshi poured cold water on Prasad’s hopes by proving that the watch was manufactured by an Indian company. But poor Joshi had no inkling that Prasad, although down, was not out of the contest yet. When Joshi asked him to show his hand, Prasad rolled up his sleeves and stated that he neither wears a watch, nor does he own a mobile phone. Now is this why Prasad and his party are seen to be falling behind times?
A former Union minister’s sartorial taste had brought woe upon him. Now Kamal Nath’s sartorial preference has become the talk of town, albeit for a different reason. On almost all occasions, Nath is seen wearing a blue safari coat. Some advisors were of the opinion that Nath, who is an integral part of Delhi’s hip socialite circle and counts the designer, Ritu Beri, as one of his friends, should have broken the monotony of blue with, say, a lighter shade or a bandhgala or Nehru jacket over his white kurta pajamas during the FDI debate. But Nath, who considers blue to be his lucky colour, would have none of it. Apparently, his wardrobe consists of numerous safari coats of the same shade and are cut from the same fabric.
That blue works wonders was proved by the fact that Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party — which boasts of a blue flag — bailed Nath and the Congress out in both Houses of Parliament during the FDI episode. There is no need for Nath to change his shade after such irrefutable evidence of luck.
Still with the FDI debate. Soon after the vote in the Rajya Sabha, the old socialist brigade — some of the leading lights of the Janata Party and the Janata Dal who are now a part of the SP, the JD (U) or the Congress — were seen huddled in the Central Hall. They were heard wondering whether the 2014 poll tally would mirror the result of the vote in the Upper House — 123 to the Congress and over a 100 to the BJP. An excited speaker chirped that such a possibility would mean that a third front would come to power, as it did in 1996. Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh Yadav would then battle one another to win the PM’s chair. But another member, a Congressman, warned that they would have to take Sharad Pawar’s prime ministerial ambitions into the equation. Looking at the huddle, some people wondered how, even after all these years, the socialists have not learnt how to get their act together.
The FDI debate made the likes of Rajiv Shukla and Sandeep Dikshit nostalgic about their school days! Both men were seen busy counting the heads of party MPs. Dikshit had a notepad and a pen. Each time he spotted an MP, he would put a tick mark against his name and report it back to Shukla whose job was to ensure the presence of every partyman during the vote. Although both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayavati had promised not to upturn the government’s boat, winning the vote was a matter of prestige for the Congress. Hence the party did not leave anything to chance and deputed Shukla and Dikshit in the role of class monitors. Hence the nostalgia for those wonder years on their part.
Pranab Mukherjee was in Chennai recently to attend the diamond jubilee celebrations of the state assembly. On his way from the airport, the president was greeted by the sight of men, women and children cheerily waving the AIADMK flag. But all the warmth and flag waving have gone to waste, say Amma’s supporters. This is because Mukherjee made it a point to call on M Karunanidhi, J Jayalalithaa’s archrival and leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, at his residence. Jhaal muri was served at Karunanidhi’s house in honour of the visiting dignitary. Are Amma’s supporters busy chalking out a bigger and better welcome plan now?
The aam admi is yet to be taken up by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party. A common man was heard accusing a clerk of corruption in a bank near Parliament Street the other day. The man demanded that he be issued a cheque book that he had applied for at another branch. The clerk was hard at work, trying to explain to the irate customer that it was not possible to fulfil his request and that he would have to proceed to the particular branch that had accepted his request. But the man was in no mood to listen. He kept on screaming, attracting the attention of other customers who were present on the premises. Embarrassed by the noise and fed up with the tirade, the clerk ordered the man out after delivering these lines — “Ja jo karte bane kar le. Ja Arvind Kejriwal ko bula le (You can do whatever you want. Go and summon Arvind Kejriwal)”.