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Nadira snatches Naipaul voice

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  • Published 26.02.04
Naipaul (top) and Nadira

New Delhi, Feb. 26: Take the word out of Sir Vidia and what is left is no-Paul.

Better no-Paul than a hell-raising Naipaul — so may Lady Nadira have thought when she sewed up the famous lips of the great writer.

“You keep quiet and let me answer,” Nadira Naipaul said when asked what they — after expressing anguish at the Gujarat killings — were doing in the BJP headquarters.

“You have got it wrong. You tell me what is wrong, why is there so much media attention when we wish to come to the BJP office? What is so spectacular about it? BJP is a major force. My husband is a writer, he is concerned about India and we have come as observers,” she added.

At the 2002 meet the government hosted for People of Indian Origin, Nadira had fired questions about the Gujarat riots at L.K. Advani.

Naipaul has never been apologetic about his sympathies for the BJP and the couple’s presence at the party headquarters today was not really a surprise.

The Naipauls shared the dais with BJP representatives with the lotus and a giant Vajpayee blow-up acting as the backdrop.

“We don’t mind being appropriated. Everybody should appropriate my husband. He is in the public domain. If the liberals do their homework properly, they are free to appropriate him. If the Congress invites me, I will be happy to go there,” Nadira said.

Obviously, she did not want to make too much of the visit and, obviously, she wasn’t going to give Naipaul a chance of making something out of nothing, which he has done in the past.

At a writers’ conclave at Neemrana in Rajasthan, Naipaul had told a fellow author to virtually shut up as he had no time for her “banalities”. Nadira had passed on a slip of paper, advising him to calm down. But it was too late.

Not this time. When he did get the opportunity to speak, Naipaul chose his words carefully. “You mustn’t ask me about passing past things,” he replied when asked about the Gujarat riots.

Should persons of “foreign” origin occupy high constitutional posts?

“I think it is worth considering as an idea. The US does not allow for this.”

At the “interaction” with the BJP’s cultural cell and other invitees, too, the author was cautious. The most famous guests were dancer Sonal Mansingh and former diplomat and now Rajya Sabha member, L.M. Singhvi (who said the discussions were not up to Naipaul’s intellectual level).

Although most would say the Naipauls were an improvement on some of the people that have been showing up at the party headquarters of late, they received less attention than, say, even D.P. Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh strongman who was in and out of the BJP in a jiffy.

The only senior leader who sat through the discussions was J.P. Mathur. Arun Jaitley introduced Naipaul and left.