On being quizzed, a DMK MP said that party MPs were donating a part of their pay hikes to build a memorial to A. Raja, as a token of appreciation for the great work he had done for the party.
An unusually mellow mood has descended upon Parliament. Bills are getting passed quickly, debates have become perfunctory. Die-hard traditionalists do now and then pick up a bench to throw, but put it down listlessly. Their hearts are not in the game. Once in a while a zealous legislator, mindful of his duties, gets up to rush to the well of the house, but then sits down again. Clearly, since the threefold hike in pay, their minds are elsewhere. Most lawmakers are busy dreaming about what they will do with the extra money.
A young and promising MP from the Congress wondered where he could buy a tribal headdress with lots of feathers. He had already acquired a beard and all he needed was a loincloth, some beads and a drum for his hip new tribal identity. He toyed with the idea of ordering a Red Indian outfit from America — after all, he could afford to splurge now. “Should I get some bows and arrows too?” was a question that haunted him frequently. Well-wishers had told him that he also needed to learn the tribal dances and he spent many anxious moments wondering how much a tribal dance instructor in Delhi would cost.
Across the aisle, one of the legislators from the Biju Janata Dal had bought a large new silk hat and was passing it around, asking people to contribute generously from their pay hikes. “The money we collect will be sent to Vedanta Aluminium,” he said. Meanwhile a group of Congressmen keen on sending the right signal to their leaders was discussing the best method of painting their bodies blue and where they could get fake pointy ears, like the eco-friendly Na’avi aliens in the movie Avatar.
Leaders from the Bahujan Samaj Party were gathered together in a corner of the hall with needles, thread and lots of currency notes. “We’re making a huge garland to present to our leader from the extra money we’re going to earn,” explained one of them, carefully sewing another thousand rupee note into the garland. An MP from the DMK was busy collecting funds from his party colleagues. On being quizzed, he said that party MPs were donating a part of their pay hikes to build a memorial to A. Raja, as a token of appreciation for the great work he had done for the DMK.
Trinamool Congress MPs were placing large orders for tomatoes, rotten eggs and stink bombs, which they planned to use at Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s next rally. A legislator from the CPI(M) was seen carving Deng Xiaoping’s line ‘To get rich is glorious’ again and again on his desk. MPs from the National Conference planned to stock up on shoes that they could throw back at anybody who chucked shoes at them.
An RJD leader wanted to add to his stock of cows and buffaloes, but lamented that he would have to spend a large part of his salary on cattle feed, which unfortunately is no longer cheap. A conscientious BJP big shot said he was grateful for the increased salary and vowed to work even harder at elbowing out all competitors for the top post in the party.
Meanwhile the backbenchers have already invested a part of their pay hikes on Ray Ban shades and i-Pods. Eyes firmly closed behind their shades, listening to soft music on their i-Pods, they are lulled to sleep by the steady drone of bills being passed and dream of fun-filled vacations on sun-kissed beaches.
*Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
( The views expressed by the author are personal.)