Amidst reports that AgustaWestland could be her Bofors, a beleaguered Sonia Gandhi called a meeting of senior Congress leaders and alliance partners who are still with UPA to discuss and formulate a strategy to face the BJP in parliament and Arnab in the Newshour.
Venue: 10, Janpath. Sonia Gandhi’s residence.
Sonia (opening remarks): Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure…
Rahul: Complete nonsense. Let’s cut all this crap and get straight to the point.
Ajay Maken (murmurs): Though out of power this guy hasn’t changed a bit. Still the same word?
Sonia (whispers to Rahul): Beta, I’m not Maken, I’m your mom…who comes to your room every night and cries… (turns back to the group) We’re facing a grim situation today. Documents of scams and controversies from our time in the government are tumbling out every day. We need to discuss and formulate a strategy to counter BJP and Times Now…
Rahul: Absolutely. After all, how many days can we allow Arnab to keep the chair empty? We need to send someone.
Sonia: Manmohan, can you just go around and confirm that all the invitees are present?
Manmohan (gets up and walks around with a list): Chidambaram, yes. Singhvi, yes. Barkha Dutt? Why? (turns around to Sonia and asks) Ma’am, why is Barkha here?
Sonia: It’s okay, Manmohan. She is family. I invited her. In fact, you won’t be able to identify the next two guys without her help.
Manmohan: Next two guys? This old man with yellow shawl and the lean guy in spotless white shirt and dhoti? Who’re they?
Barkha (with a broad smile): Karunanidhi and Raja. Remember the ‘Tell me what I should tell them’? I got him inducted in your cabinet.
Raja gets up and genuflects to Barkha in true Dravidian style as Manmohan moves to check the attendance of others.
Manmohan (talks to himself): Digvijay Singh, yes. Ahmed Patel, yes. Rajeev Shukla, yes. Hain…Who’s this guy?
Srinivasan: I am Srinivasan from India Cements. Former BCCI….
Manmohan: But this meeting is for former UPA partners…
Srinivasan: I’m sorry. I thought it was meeting of all shady chaps in India. Like they do in Bollywood movies…
Sonia: Let him be there. We may need his advice. In fact, I’ve asked Vijay Mallya to join via skype.
Manmohan (moving to the next guy): Who are you? Ma’am…
Sonia (irritated that Manmohan is not able to identify participants): Sit down Manmohan. Enough of checking. We need to proceed with the meeting. (addresses the members) I want to make it clear…
Karunanidhi (interrupts): Before you commit anything to others, let me make DMK’s position clear. We need 4 plus 3. Four cabinet seats and three MOS. Otherwise, reporters are waiting outside. I will show this agreement on portfolio allocation to them.
Chidambaram (whispers to Karunanidhi): Sir, this meeting is not for cabinet formation. We are not in power. And the paper you’re waving is your ration card.
Karunanidhi: Is it? I thought all meetings in Delhi are for portfolio allocation. I’ve been coming to Delhi only for that purpose.
Sonia: Can I have your attention please? We are talking of a serious issue. An Italian court names me as the driving force behind the chopper deal. What do I do now?
Chidambaram: Simple, ma’am. Please introduce me to the judge and I will solve the problem in a few minutes.
Sonia: Oh great! But what will you do?
Chidambaram: I will ask the judge to announce the judgement was delivered without his knowledge by the court registrar. The judge will pass a new verdict, which will not have your name. After all, he can’t mention your name based on hearsay… I mean a letter by a third party cannot form part of the judgement…
Singhvi: Chup kar yar Chidambaram. This is not Ishrat affidavit that you can keep on changing. This requires a different approach. I can get it done.
Chidambaram: How? By promising promotion to a female lawyer in Milan? So that she will become a judge and deliver a positive verdict? Laughable. You can’t manage your driver. You’re going to manage the Italian court?
Singhvi (complains to Sonia): Ma’am, this is below the belt.
Chidambaram: He he he…I know. Thanks for accepting that was below the belt.
Singhvi: Abe lungi-wale, ‘below the belt’ means being unfair…not what you think. I don’t know when you Tamils will learn English.
Chidambaram: I’ve a better idea. Ma’am, remember what I said in the coal scam—if coal is not mined, where is the scam? Why don’t you issue a statement that when choppers haven’t been bought, where is the question of kickbacks?
Digvijay: And you’ve forgotten the flak we got from the media for that foolish comment of yours. You guys are lawyers. You are unable to think of a political response. This is a BJP conspiracy, which requires a fitting political response. I can prove that the judge’s forefathers were RSS sympathisers. This will put BJP on the defensive.
Rahul: How will you prove?
Digvijay: We don’t need to prove anything. The Sanghis will bend over backwards and write op-eds in Pioneer and Swarajya that there is no RSS connection. It will keep them busy…
Sonia: But who will publish your theory?
Barkha: NDTV will be happy to air an exclusive one-on-one interview with Digvijay…
Chidambaram: Sure you will, but who watches you programme?
Barkha: Don’t underestimate me, sir. My recent Biryani pe Baath with Derek O’Brien got some eyeballs…
Chidambaram: Come on, people thought it was a cookery show and watched the programme.
Karunanidhi: I have nearly five decades’ of experience in handling corruption allegations. You just need to allege Brahmin conspiracy…it has worked for all these decades…
Sonia (shaking her head): I am not convinced with any of your suggestions. I am unhappy…
Ahmed Patel (excitedly): No problem ma’am. I’ll ask the media to publish that you are unhappy.
At this point, one of the invitees gets up and says contemptuously, “So, this is how you guys plan to counter AgustaWestland issue. I’ll tell PTs about your designs.”
Barkha: Subramanian Swamy?
Sonia: Swamy!?! How the hell did you enter the meeting hall? How did the security guys allow you?
Swamy: Simple. Buddhu signed my entry pass thinking that he was signing papers for incorporating a company in UK!
Swamy laughs in his trademark manner, and leaves the room.