Beware of Bhandaris


It is high time Romesh Bhandari joined the ranks of ex-Governors. No doubt it will embolden him to bid for a Bharat Ratna, but we are sure the panelists, once bitten will now be twice shy before doling out the highest civilian honour to politicians with a past.

The never ending UP power game appears to be witnessing several climaxes with the bill getting lobbed into one court after another and there seems to be no respite for democracy from the constant thrashing it is being subjected to. And the man spearheading the assault is none other than the one whose bounden duty it is to protect it. But this Umpire is no respecter of norms or fair play. Otherwise would he give the batsman out even before the ball was bowled? The Allahabad High Court has now ruled in favour of a status quo, just as the President returned his recommendation five months back. But such reversals obviously do not evoke any sense of shame in the very excellent Excellency who finds no cause to vacate the Raj Bhavan. Reason why the President should take a leaf out of Bhandari’s own book and pay him back with the same coin, meaning sack him. If not it wouldn’t take much time for the infection to spread to other such Bhavans, with the office of the President getting increasingly belittled by its own representatives. And given Bhandari’s proclivity for mischief and dislike for Kalyan, there is bound to be another roulette involving rotation of CMs and ex-CMs.

Even the most hilarious soap operas would flop before the real life drama that was enacted in UP yesterday. Metaphors have long lost their utility in that state with their explicit manifestations becoming a reality. So when we talk metaphorically of a fight for the chair, what we would be referring to is the power struggle. But in UP it would be a real physical fight to grab the chair, as was witnessed yesterday, The metaphor floor-crossing, meaning defections, once again is demonstrated in the literal sense. The UP legislators do it with gay abandon as they just stroll across the floor of the assembly or its corridors from one party to another, blissfully oblivious to the slur they invite upon their selves and the polity.

This man, Jaga-something Pal, who, thanks to Bhandari entered the History books and had to get out of it even before the flip of a page, thanks to the judiciary, will certainly hold for posterity the record for the shortest stint as the Chief Minister. Poor soul, even as the last nail on his name-plate outside the CM’s room was being driven home, the first three were yanked out. His minute-by-minute battle to extend his tenure was very touching and was reminiscent of the young boy on board the sinking Casablanca. This J… Pal must be a very emotional and affectionate man, for how else can one explain such monumental love and attachment for the office of the Chief Ministership within just a day of ascending the throne? He even bolted himself inside the CM’s chambers refusing to open up even after the High Court order was orally conveyed to him, probably through the key hole. He insisted on getting a written confirmation from the Governor who obliged by sending one through the Chief Secretary, and only then did he relent, apparently after the sheet of paper was slipped under the door, A few more minutes and the J. Pal would have even applied Fevicol to his bottom to ensure that he remained glued to the CM’s seat. The CS’s timely intervention surely saved the day and J. Pal’s pyjamas too. Still it was a valiant attempt worthy of emulation by aspiring CMs who have managed to secure sponsorships from excellent Excellencies as well as the support of a bunch of cats/ on the wall.

With the Supreme Court, today refusing to stay the HC order reinstating the Kalyan Singh government the battle is now likely to spill over to the precincts of the Assembly, the venue of the earlier wrestling match. Given the UP legislators’ love for missiles and their penchant for launching them at the drop of a hat, the marshalls inside the assembly would do well to remove such objectionable objects like mikes, microphones, paper weights and sundry other items which are normally used to transact government business. Also it would be advisable to dispense with chairs, tables and other furniture so that there is a level playing field for the free movement of man, missiles and morals. A safe corner could be earmarked for democracy, decorum and decency to hide.

Bhandari’s pranks have already rendered the State a battlefield but as they say, UP can take it. Both the warring groups have started flexing their muscles for the show of strength with K. Singh and J.Pal getting set for the final leap and grab for the CM’s gaddi. The pundits in the meantime can start considering an amendment to the constitution that can provide for a CM’s bench instead of a CM’s chair, given the hordes of claimants who are vying to occupy it. Also provision could be made for two CM chambers in the Secretariat, or at least a waiting room for the CM-in-waiting, as Kalyan would recommend, who could relax and even hold cabinet meetings while the latest ex-CM is packing his bags, albeit forcibly.

As the nation awaits with bated breath and deathly silence the outcome of the inevitable ‘display of democracy’ inside the assembly in a few days there could be any number of guesses as to who, between K. Singh and J.Pal, the Chief Ministers chair would ultimately go. However, we advise that the chair, which has been subjected to so much of rocking in the last few days, should first go to the carpenter.

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Jawahar T R