WHAT’S IN a name? A night’s worth of sleep, as Indore MP and BJP national vice-president Sumitra Mahajan learnt after a television news channel reported the death of a namesake and MP late Friday evening.
She was deluged with calls from party colleagues, scribes and well-wishers on Friday night, all wanting to check whether she had shuffled off her mortal coil. Mystified, the MP patiently explained to the callers that she was quite hale and hearty. As the calls mounted, however, she became exasperated and answered each incoming call with a straight up disclaimer.
“Main abhi zinda hoon,” (I’m still alive) declared Sumitra quite matter-of-factly when this reporter called her at around 1 am after hearing rumours of her death. All this before one even had a chance to say ‘Hello’.
The rumours, it later turned out, were prompted by confusion following electronic media reports about the demise of a Haryana politician also named Sumitra Mahajan and also, incidentally, an MP, although in the Rajya Sabha. When a channel began running scrolls announcing the ‘death of MP Sumitra Mahajan’, many assumed that the item referred to the local MP.
News of Tai’s ‘death’ spread like wildfire and residents called newspaper offices late evening to verify the reports. The scribes, in turn, contacted the local BJP leadership and the Indore MP herself, whose cell phone rang unceasingly for some two hours after the report was first broadcast.
Sumitra revealed that the ‘scores of phone calls’ she received after the rumours began to circulate led her to answer each call with an assurance that she was alive.