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Meet Obama Singh

Last weekend US President Barack Obama made a funny speech at the White House correspondents’ dinner, full of jokes and jabs at his fellow politicians, journalists and himself. What if our prime minister made a similar speech, asks Manas Chakravarty.

india Updated: May 09, 2010 01:00 IST
Manas Chakravarty
Manas Chakravarty
Hindustan Times

Last weekend US President Barack Obama made a funny speech at the White House correspondents’ dinner, full of jokes and jabs at his fellow politicians, journalists and himself. What if our prime minister made a similar speech?

Howdy folks, I’ll let you in on a little secret — if Sushma Swaraj had her way, I wouldn’t be able to come for this dinner tonight. Luckily, Mayawati bailed me out in Parliament by voting against the cut motion. Because she was very keen I should attend this dinner. So here I am. Soniaji too is here, which is a big deal, because it’s tough getting her to a party — at least this kind of a party. There’s a foul rumour she has come for the lasagna. I, on the other hand, have come for the makki di roti and sarson da saag. You people know I’m from Assam and makki di roti and sarson da saag is the staple food of that state.

I see lots of familiar faces here. But where’s Shibu Soren? I hope he hasn’t gone to the wrong party, he’s been doing that quite frequently these days.

Earlier, I used to get nervous while making speeches. But while I was RBI governor I realised that nobody understood a thing I was saying. That increased my confidence. In Parliament, nobody is interested in listening to other people’s speeches anyway. I was a bit worried about how people would react to my addresses to the nation, but luckily I discovered that a skilful combination of mumbling into my beard and a flat monotone soon put them to sleep.

You all know I’m an economist and therefore a big fan of the Invisible Hand that guides free markets. That invisible hand has also guided my political career, steering me adroitly into the prime ministership. I sometimes get a strong feeling the invisible hand, at least in politics, is female.

We’ve done rather well on the economy, although inflation has been an issue. As an economist, I can tell you that the reason prices rose so fast was because of the inelasticity of supply. But inflation is abating at present, thanks to the elasticity of statistics. I’ve pushed ahead with my initiative on peace with Pakistan, which is close to my heart. To those who oppose it, I can only point to what has happened to that other subject close to my heart — the US nuclear deal. That should put their fears to rest.

I am a bit confused about the distinction between the good and bad Taliban and how the Taliban used to be good but then became bad and are now turning good again. Only Shashi Tharoor can unravel this mystery. Where’s Shashi? He must be busy tweeting.

The home minister has done a remarkable job of managing terrorism. He wasn’t able to come for this dinner — I hope he’s busy listening to terrorists’ phone conversations.

We’ve also done pretty well on keeping our coalition together — all it needs is a bit of give and a lot of take. But I’d like to emphasise that in a coalition we are all equal. You can’t have a raja in a democracy.

And finally, while Obama may make better speeches, I can make the economy grow a darn sight faster than him. I notice Arun Jaitely looking at his watch. If I don’t end soon, he might move a cut motion against my speech. This time, I think I’ll let him succeed.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: May 08, 2010 22:07 IST