Kishenji provided a mobile phone number that Chidambaram could call — at 5 pm on Thursday — if he wished to talk to the Maoists
Hindustan Times, February 24
Scene 1, Jungles of Jharkhand
Junior Maoist: Comrade Kishenji, the imperialist agent Chidambaram wants you to send him a fax about the cease-fire.
Kishenji: Why does he want a fax? Ask him to call me on… hmmm….comrade secretary, could you please pass my iPhone, let’s see when I can fit him in. On Tuesday I have that lecture on ‘How to lay a land mine’ in Lalgarh. I’m free after that?
Comrade Secretary: Comrade, directly after the land mines seminar, you have to attend the All-Maoist Champions Golf Trophy at Kathmandu with Comrade Prachanda.
Kishenji: Oh yes. And on Wednesday we have that raid on a CRPF camp.
Comrade Secretary: In the evening you have a formal dinner arranged by the Tribal Welfare Association. Which reminds me, comrade, they have a dress code so please wear a dinner jacket.
Kishenji: OK, but I lost my bow tie. Let’s go shopping in Kathmandu, I also need to buy some silk scarves to wrap my head in when I’m giving TV interviews. The back of my head looks so ugly in those lousy towels.
Comrade Secretary: Ooooh, shopping in Kathmandu.
Kishenji: And on Thursday, I have that power lunch with the Politburo and another TV interview. I guess I can fit Chidambaram in after that.
Comrade Secretary: You have your usual high tea on the lawn at 4 pm.
Kishenji: Fine, tell Chidambaram he can call me at 5 pm on Thursday.
Scene 2, North Block, New Delhi
Secretary: Sir, Kishenji says he doesn’t want to send a fax.
Chidambaram: All right, I’ll make a major concession, as proof of my good intentions. Ask him to send his statement by registered post, acknowledgment due.
Secretary: Sir, he says he doesn’t have an acknowledgement card.
Chidambaram: Ok, tell him speed post will do.
Secretary: Sir, he says there are no post offices nearby. He wants to tweet about the cease fire. Will you tweet him back?
Chidambaram: Who does he think I am, Shashi Tharoor?
Secretary: Sir, he now wants to invite you to Facebook.
Chidambaram: Send another ten battalions after him.
Secretary: Sir, he’s asking whether an SMS will do.
Chidambaram: Certainly not. OK, tell him Orkut is fine, but Facebook is a no-no. Does he have a LinkedIn profile?
Secretary: He says no. He suggests sending the cease fire proposal by e-mail.
Chidambaram: All right, but he must send it in triplicate. Also, tell him I would like no ifs, no buts and no conditions.
Secretary: Sir, he says he’s willing to drop the ifs and buts, but can he put in a ‘however’? He also says he’s willing to drop conditions, but can he keep ‘provisos’, ‘riders’, or ‘stipulations’. And he asks whether he can use ‘except’, ‘excluding’ and ‘although’ instead of ‘but’.
Chidambaram: If he does all that, tell him we’ll use ‘notwithstanding’.
Secretary: What do you mean?
Chidambaram: As in “Notwithstanding our accepting your generous offer of a cease-fire you are hereby required to surrender all your weapons and we reserve the right to bash you up whenever we want.”
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal