Now listen here
I met the government’s Director of Phone Tapping (DPT) a.k.a. the Chief Bugger last week. He was most informative, explaining that they had many notable near-successes. “Listen to this conversation we picked up from Shibu Soren’s phone,” he said:
Voice: Sir, have you decided on who you are going to appoint as the Chief of Police?
Voice: The chief of police, sir, of Jharkhand?
Soren: Oh, I appoint Kishenji.
Soren: Do you have Alzheimer’s?
Voice: But sir, Kishenji is a Maoist.
We nearly got Shibu that time, said the DPT, but he was saved by a whisker because he said he had Alzheimer’s disease and had made a mistake. “Did you know we almost got the RBI governor too?” he smirked. He played the audio for me.
Voice: We need a bigger money supply, sir.
Governor: Ah. How much?
Voice: Well, it’s around Rs 56 lakh crore now, sir.
That’s when I got excited, interjected the Chief Bugger.
Governor: Ok, let’s increase it by 20 per cent.
Voice: Much depends on how much foreign money comes in, though.
Obviously these guys were doing a huge deal and with foreign funds too, said the Chief Bugger, that’s why they used codes like M3. “But they got away by pretending they were talking about the country’s entire money supply”, he said sorrowfully.
“We also thought for a while we were on to Nitin Gadkari”, he continued and made me hear this conversation:
Gadkari: Swear that nobody will know.
Voice: I swear most solemnly.
Gadkari: After I fainted during that rally, I don’t want to be seen as weak. So you’ll deliver it at dead of night. That way, nobody will know.
Voice: This will be top secret, sir.
Gadkari: Right then, send it tonight.
Voice: Just to confirm, we’ll be sending you one slimming sauna belt, deluxe, guaranteed to reduce fat in 30 days for Rs 2,399 — cash on delivery.
We went nowhere with that one, said DPT ruefully. I pointed to another tape marked “Strictly confidential”. “Oh that one,” said the Chief Bugger, “that nearly gave me a heart attack. I couldn’t believe what Soniaji was saying. Here, listen to it.”
Sonia: First, chop off the head.
Voice: What about all the blood?
Sonia: Wash it off, silly.
Voice: What do I do with the head?
Sonia: Throw it away.
Voice: This is a respectable neighbourhood. What will people say?
Sonia: Does the rest of it fit?
Voice: No, it doesn’t, it’s so big.
Sonia: No problem. Take a sharp knife and cut it into three parts.
Voice: This is revolting. Yes, it fits now.
Sonia: Now bring the oil to a boil, put the three fish pieces into the saucepan and fry them.
Chief Bugger told me he had his heart in his mouth before he realised that Sonia was merely teaching Rahul how to fry fish.
Before I left, DPT played another recording. “That’s from the Finance Minister’s phone,” he said. “It sounds like somebody gargling,” I said, “or perhaps a strange language, probably Tibetan.” The language experts said it was no known language, said DPT, so we finally got in a good friend of his.” “What did he say?” I asked, all agog. He said Pranabda was trying to speak Hindi, chortled Chief Bugger.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal