Ranjona Banerji: NCP ties itself for Whiner of the Week award

23 Jul,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The winner of the presidential election maybe Pranab Mukherjee but the award for Noosemaker/Whiner/Tantrum Thrower of the week is divided between PA Sangma and Sharad Pawar. One is former NCP, the other current NCP and both founders of the NCP.


Pawar suddenly decided that he was very upset with the sort of musical chairs being played at Cabinet meetings. I quite sympathise because I never liked musical chairs as a kid at birthday parties. Today’s children will not understand, but in the olden days birthday parties were an elaborate form of torture for children, who were forced to compete with each other and make fools of themselves in order to get a slice of cake and a few chips. Sounds a bit like today’s political parties actually.


Anyway, Pawar felt that every time the music stopped, he was forced to sit in another chair. Sometimes it was the second chair (first being the prime minister) and sometimes it was chair 3 or 4. This was clearly insulting. He might have only nine MPs but why should that other chap from a much smaller state holding a job that Pawar once did get the second chair?


Later we were told he was not so petty to be worried about chairs. All he wanted was a coordination committee. Whatever.


PA Sangma, former Lok Sabha speaker and the country’s best known Tribal and Christian – according to him – wanted to become President of India. This is a legitimate goal, but Sangma, one might say, went about it the wrong way. He approached, of all people, Naveen Patnaik and J Jayalalitha for help. However powerful they may be in their own states, they did not have the numbers to make Sangma President.


Since Sangma was part of the UPA, he could have at least spoken to someone within the coalition. Instead he chose to go out of it. After much reluctance, the BJP decided to support him. The UPA and two NDA allies supported Pranab Mukherjee. Everyone except Sangma saw Mukherjee’s victory as a foregone conclusion. Not because Mukherjee is much loved or the greatest person ever but because the UPA had the numbers. Then Sangma and the BJP said he wanted to be the loser with the highest number of votes (this is a strange award category known only to Indian politicians).


Then Sangma said that he had to win for India’s Tribals and Christians. Most Tribals and Christians were silent. (As it turned out, not all of their representatives voted for Sangma.) Then Sangma said that Mukherjee had used a comma where it was not needed in his nomination form and had not used the right kind of nib in his pen. Also, he did not stand on the right side of the table when submitting the form (unlike Sangma who seems to be heading quite firmly to the right). Since Sangma was by now advised by the world’s biggest litigator Subramaniam Swamy, the plan was to go straight to the Supreme Court with 1,000 public interest litigations. The Election Commission blocked that route.


So now that Sangma has not become president, he is nibbling away at sour grapes. He should not, because he is now eligible for the Best Sore Loser and Most Ungracious Defeat speech awards, with a good chance of winning both. The Congress used bribery, extortion and threats to get Mukherjee to win and the North East states (which elected Mukherjee by the biggest margins) betrayed him.


Boo hoo hoo.


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