Pawar was reportedly upset when the PM allocated the chair next to him to AK Antony at the last Cabinet meeting, while allocating to Pawar the seat next to the defence minister.
— ET Bureau, July 20
Senior Minister: We need to discuss the vexed question of who’s going to sit in the chair that Pranab Mukherjee has vacated.
Clueless Minister: Why, he had a skin disease or something? We could get another chair.
Irritated Minister: Young man, it’s a very prestigious chair, people are fighting each other to sit on it.
Minister Who Has Misplaced Brain: Pranab-da must take the chair with him to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Irritated Minister: It’s not the chair, dammit. It’s who sits next to the prime minister.
Misplaced Brain: Why would anybody sit next to the PM? He’s such a bore.
Clueless: Is it his perfume? I use Armani’s Acqua di Gio.
Senior Minister: Idiots, the minister who sits next to the PM is No 2 in the Cabinet.
Classy Minister: I’m reading from Debrett’s, the authority on etiquette, ‘The host is seated at the centre of the table, and as a general principle, guests radiate out from the centre of the table in order of precedence. ‘
Fussy Minister: But what’s the historical precedence? Where did Chanakya sit when Chandragupta Maurya conducted cabinet meetings?
Cynical Minister: And where did Judas sit during the Last Supper?
Show-Off Minister: Tradition has it he was the fourth guy from Jesus.
Fourth Guy From PM: Why is everybody looking at me?
Surrealist Minister: Maybe we could play musical chairs before each meeting to decide who sits next to the PM.
Very Senior Minister: We’ve always sat in order of seniority. In Indira Gandhi’s time, she used to recline in a large sofa, the senior ministers had upholstered chairs, the ministers of state sat on hard wooden chairs, while the most junior ministers sat on stools. During crowded Cabinet meetings, they often had to sit outside the door and were regularly mistaken for peons.
Misplaced Brain: We could have a round table and the prime minister could sit on it, in the centre.
Clueless: Under the table might also work.
Classy minister: Why don’t we pair people the way we do for dinners at home — you know, seat a lady next to a guy, ensure that shy people have a talkative person next to them.
Waiter: We could split it up into sections — a table for those who have tea, another for coffee-drinkers, a table for idli-lovers, another for the samosa-people.
Smart Minister: We could have a long thin table, with all of us on one side of it and the PM in the centre on the other side.
Cynical Minister: The guy opposite the PM will say he’s no 2.
Smart Minister: Why don’t we remove the cabinet secretary from the PM’s left and ask Pawar to sit there, while Antony sits on the PM’s right.
Smartest Minister: Let’s set up an Empowered Group of Ministers for Seating Arrangements to look into the matter in depth and submit a report
All: Yes, yes, resolution passed unanimously. Where’s the tea and cakes?
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal