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Chargé your own affaires

But why would Burleigh even want to ‘suggest’ to Naidu, a key player in any possible Third Front formation, to dump the communists and choose between the UPA and the NDA? Indrajit Hazra examines...

india Updated: May 14, 2009 22:38 IST
Indrajit Hazra

Well, of course we shouldn’t read too much into the US Chargé d’Affaires Peter Burleigh dropping by at N. Chandrababu Naidu’s on Tuesday. Why, should we? Burleigh was in Hyderabad to inspect the new consulate and just as his car was passing Naidu’s office he must have thought, “Jeez, I’ve come all the way from Delhi to inspect this new office and it’ll be a crying shame if I don’t say hello to Naidu.”

So there he was, probably sipping coffee and chatting with Naidu about how things were in Obamaland, whether the TDP leader was following any interesting IT scrips on the Nasdaq of late… And just when he had stood up to leave, he may have said something on the lines of, “I hope you’re not letting those silly communists wreck our deal.”

The US embassy spokespersons have chorused that Burleigh had met Naidu “for routine consultations”, categorically denying that there was “any attempt to interfere in India’s democratic political process”.

But why would Burleigh even want to ‘suggest’ to Naidu, a key player in any possible Third Front formation, to dump the communists and choose between the UPA and the NDA? Burleigh is no David Mulford telling us Indians how siding with Iran is subtly linked to the Indo-US nuke deal, or how the Left is moronic about FDI in retail, banking and insurance.

In any case, it’s not as if Naidu was the only guy Burleigh met. He met Praja Rajyam chief Chiranjeevi — for routine consultations again — and others, including the Governor and a flight attendant inside the plane. The next day, he was hanging out with BJP prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani in Delhi.

Burleigh must have had tea and chit-chatted about the goings-on in Sri Lanka (he was US ambassador there in the mid-90s), how Narendra Modi could be provided an H1B visa after May 16 if…which is when Rajnath Singh must have entered the room.

Burleigh trying to suggest to our leaders how they conduct their business? Nope. That would be downright hegemonic, wouldn’t it? I’m just curious whether he’ll be making a ‘routine consultation’ with Prakash Karat in the next few days. “The weather’s rotten. Don’t you think India needs air-conditioners, and therefore cheap power, for all” could be an opening line.