On a cool November day last year, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma got the news that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would be available in Delhi's Pragati Maidan, where the annual trade fair was going on.
Sharma was advised that it was an opportunity too precious to overlook: Banerjee would be a captive audience as she was going to be watching a cultural show; so he should seize the chance, drive down there and brief her on the development that 51 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) in multi-brand retail would bring in.
Sharma did exactly that.
Visitors to the function saw him sitting next to Banerjee, talking earnestly for nearly 90 minutes.
Eyewitnesses also noted that Banerjee did not even turn to look at him. She just pretended he didn't exist and stared into the middle distance the entire time.
"We could see that he was talking. But it didn't look as if she was listening," recalls a visitor.
So when Sharma told a Cabinet meeting that he had spoken to Banerjee thrice - twice personally and once on the phone - he was not being inaccurate.
Image: Anand Sharma and Mamata in happier times.
Text: Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard