Somnath Chatterjee, Lok Sabha Speaker and very patient listener, is no fence-sitter. He sits and sits on his seat with pride. The whole of last week, however, was taken up by a rousing debate about whether he should be continuing to sit on that seat or not. Excerpts from his very cushioned week:
Saturday, July 12: So here I was sitting at the Lok Sabha telling people, “Please, please...no, no, this is not done. The nation is watching you. Please Mr Prasad, you can’t do that. This is not an Ekta Kapoor soap.” And now my party suddenly wants me to resign so that it can have enough people voting against the trust vote for the government? Hmph. What do they want? Me to go back to my Bolpur constituency and gaze at Tagore’s navel?
Sunday, July 13: This is getting ridiculous. I took a flight from Delhi to Kolkata today and the stewardess tells me: “Sir, this is not your seat. You have an aisle sit in first class.” I mean, who do they think I am? That I will give up this economy-class window seat just to spread my legs? I’m tired of the indiscreet charm of the proletariat! I will not budge from my window seat.
Monday, July 14: Jyoti-babu looked sprightly today on his birthday. At 95, he’s older than the Russian Revolution. I congratulated him for telling the guards at his Salt Lake residence to tell Prakash Karat that Mr Basu is out of town. I believe Prakash is still loitering outside wanting to meet Jyoti-babu. I don’t know whether he’s waiting to be let in or for the revolution to arrive. I have a niggling feeling that he’s hungry and just wants dinner. [To hired waiter] Oi! Why are you telling me to sit on that chair? I was very comfortable here next to Subhas Chakravarty! What do you mean this seat is for Buddhadeb-babu? This is my seat! It was a unanimously decided that I would sit next to Jyoti-babu. You can’t take away my seat!
Tuesday, July 15:
Today, I went to see Hancock, a movie about an alcoholic superhero — barring the alcoholic part, he’s quite a lot like me. Suddenly in the middle of the movie the usher told me I’m sitting in the wrong seat. This is ridiculous! I’m the Speaker. How can they tell me to change seats?
Wednesday, July 16: Today Karat came with a pendulum and torch to my house. He kept on saying, “You are a communist. Not a Speaker. You are a communist. Not a Speaker.” These JNU types are weird.
Thursday, July 17: L.K. Advani winked at me in the morning. I’ve been showering myself since. Oh, I’m feeling so unclean!
Friday, July 18: I’m unbiased. I hate Prakash Karat.