Kabhi Sonia, kabhi koi aur
As I write this column, suspense has deepened about who will be India's next Prime Minister, says Nabanita Sircar.
It is nice to note that the rise in temperature has brought hope for a good summer, but Indians here and possibly, everywhere in the world, are experiencing a different kind of temperature level, given the heat of the Indian election results.
Since the results of the elections on Friday, everywhere, every dinner, every social gathering I have been to, the only subject of discussion has been, 'how did this happen?' I have no answers to provide for stunned questioners. Nobody has. That's what I have been noticing.
As I write this column the suspense has deepened about who will be the next Prime Minister of India. This morning I received a phone call to tell me that a group of Indian students were planning a peaceful protest in front of India House in Aldywch, on Wednesday to ask 'if there was no other single person to lead India?' Within hours I again got a call from Om Pathak of the National Community Rise Organisation which was planning the protest, to let me know that given the latest developments the protest has been called off for the moment.
I realise that India is the world's largest democracy and because of the country's growing stature in the world, the 14th Lok Sabha elections attracted huge international media attention, but such strong reaction to the outcome, was not something I had envisaged. No one had. While everyone waits to know the outcome of this saga I shall focus my attention on other less volatile matters.
I can see I am unwittingly getting sucked into this whole election issue, but these days very few will let you escape it. On Monday, Sudhir Tailang, the famous political cartoonist of Hindustan Times was in London to inaugurate his exhibition at the Nehru Centre. Tailang had packed off his work for London, two weeks ago when he was leaving for Germany from Delhi. His work was titled 'Rajiv to Atal'. Like millions of Indians, he too was not aware then, of how the Indian political tables would turn. But some intuitive foresight made him pack a few cartoons of Sonia. So to his relief he changed the title to 'Rajiv to Sonia,' and escaped any embarrassment, at least as of Monday.
The week-long exhibition was inaugurated by Lord Swraj Paul. And to mark the occasion Tailang even made a caricature of Lord Paul. Tailang is now looking forward to returning to India and using his brush on Mrs Gandhi, who, he said, he found very 'stoney-faced' until now, but added, that given "six months every politician becomes a cartoonist's delight." Wait Sudhir, hold your pencil, you still don't know who the prime minister will be."
While the political atmosphere in India is hot, temperatures here are rising with the advent of London's mayoral elections due on June 10. Ram Gidoomal is the Asian face to run for the race. London socialite Ramola Bachchan has encouragingly come forward to gather Asian support for Gidoomal. Known for hosting wonderful parties, she did the same for Gidoomal, which gave him an opportunity to interact with members of London's Asian community. It was obvious that Ramola has no interest in being actively involved in his campaign, but she has extended her hand to help Mr Gidoomal, who is a family friend and in whom she believes. She said, "I believe in him. He is competent and capable."
Gidoomal, as UK Group Chief Executive and Vice Chair of Inlaks, he helped turning the company into a $200 million multi-national corporation with 7,000 employees in 15 countries. At Ramola's party he asked guests to extend their support to him with donations as small as £5. Given the kind of guests present at the party one hopes the support was substantial!
Never mind what political equation works out in New Delhi or London, Bollywood continues to interest this country. A poll conducted by Sky digital revealed that Sholay has been voted the greatest Indian movie of all time and Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are the King and Queen of the Bollywood screen. No longer a surprise, Amitabh Bachchan is the favourite actor, though Shah Rukh Khan is close behind. Aishwarya Rai continues her reign as the favourite actress but Madhuri Dixit, despite her marriage and brief absence from films remains the second most favourite actress. Kuch kuch hota hai, Dola re, and Khabhi khushi kabhi gam remain the three favourite songs.
Basere se dur, we don't want kabhi Sonia kabhi koi aur.