New Delhi, March 2: From Condoleezza Rice to “Condoleezza’s rice” may be a small step, but it put Prakash Karat’s comrades in new political territory today.
George W. Bush has done the unthinkable: he has woken in the CPM a sense of humour, uniting two elements that till yesterday seemed as disparate as Osama and an omelette.
The Left-sponsored protests against the US President’s visit, which drew tens of thousands to the streets in cities across the country, sparkled with wit even as they simmered in anger. As Bush lunched with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CPM put together a menu for the “Cowboy Come to Town”.
The rather glossy leaflet invited Bush to gorge on Bomb Aloo and Nuclear Do Pyaza, and wash it down with Bloody Merry or, perhaps, Blue Lagoon with Gulf Oil. For dessert, he had a choice of, among others, the best Cuba Cake and Abu-Ghraib Jalebi.
Perhaps to help him work off the calories, the leaflet offered the President a “terror schedule”, mentioning the “must dos” and the “avoids”.
Bush “must support privatisation of airports, praise Tony and his ancestors, mortgage India, kill people in the name of God” but “must avoid patriotic feelings and thoughts of Indian sovereignty, right to dissent, hunger for human rights”.
The posters, created by the CPM’s students’ wing and mass organisations over weeks also dripped sarcasm all the way through the sweltering 5 km march from the Ramlila ground to Jantar Mantar. One, with a picture of Bush with a swastika on his forehead, screamed: “Same bull****, different ass****”.
In Mumbai, never known to have a taste for protests, the streets seethed with roaring crowds and burning effigies.
The rally in Delhi, too, was not without political humour. Karat shared the podium with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, leaders he hadn’t had much time for earlier. Wife Brinda sat next to Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada below the dais.
The Mulayam masala proved a bit strong, though. He strode in late with slogan-shouting supporters, interrupting Karat’s speech. He then grabbed the microphone and, with passing mention of Bush, turned the rally into a poll campaign, ending by appealing “to my Left friends” to dump the Congress.