IN A major gaffe Mayor Uma Shashi Sharma failed to belt out even one stanza of Vande Mataram when asked to do so by newsmen on the sidelines of a song recitation ceremony at IMC headquarters this morning.
She was stumped when a local news channel asked her to sing a few lines before the camera after the ceremony. After hemming and hawing, the Mayor falteringly rendered the first two lines of the song before stopping with a request to the cameramen not to air the tape.
Municipal Commissioner Vinod Sharma fared even worse at the lyrics quiz, failing to go beyond the first two words. When pressed, the administrative head tried to turn the tables demanding that the reporter sing the song first. After the scribe complied, however, the Commissioner slunk away without comment.
In all, the programme turned out to be a damp squib with only half-a-dozen officials and around 50 of the Corporation’s 5,000-strong workforce bothering to turn up for the event. Those who did attend didn’t seem too keen about the whole affair. Even the Mayor was late arriving 15 minutes after the event was scheduled to begin by which time the rendition was already halfway through.
After the singing was over the Mayor was cornered by waiting scribes who asked her to sing a few lines for the camera’s benefit. When she failed to perform, the cameramen trained their lenses on the Municipal Commissioner, who proved equally disappointing.
The incident, witnessed by dozens of Corporation staffers as well as a large retinue of newsmen, is unlikely to earn the Mayor any brownie points from either ‘patriots’ or her political bosses.
It has also raised questions regarding the saffron party’s seriousness about the much-hyped singing of Vande Mataram. “ The Mayor had more than a fortnight’s notice about the ceremony - more than sufficient to learn the lyrics of she was so inclined,” commented a senior corporator.
It was finally left to a low-level employee to render Bankim Chandra’s song in its entirety. In a chaste Sanskrit accent, to boot.