One wonders why there is always so much hue and cry in the media the moment the Cabinet is about to be reshuffled. It’s almost as if the party and government are going to change direction suddenly leading to a dramatic change in the country’s fortunes.
That is seldom the case because at the end of the day you are shuffling the same deck of cards and hardly anything comes in from the outside. The Cabinet of the day always reflects the personality of the person in charge of the party. The Cabinet is always constituted on the principles of loyalty, dynasty and political compulsions; ability and results be damned!
This time around also it was no different.
First up was Salman Khurshid. This man was accused in a scam for which he gave absolutely no convincing counter-arguments, leading many to believe that he indeed must be guilty. He threatened a top media house, conducted probably the most arrogant press conference ever and if that was not enough later gave veiled threats to activist Arvind Kejriwal.
While in many countries this would be enough to finish off your political career, here he was rewarded with the plum post of Foreign Minister, leaving the whole country agog. It clearly shows that even party President Sonia Gandhi has absolutely no regards for the common man.
Another “foot in the mouth” specialist is Manish Tewari who comes on all the TV channels, trying to be as rude as he possibly can. He used to make baseless allegations like the one he made against Anna Hazare. But he scored 100% on the loyalty meter and bizarrely was made the Information and Broadcasting Minister!
Similarly Harish Rawat also proved to be a loyal spokesperson of the party and he too was rewarded.
Film stars have done spectacularly in the south becoming chief ministers. One exception was Chiranjeevi. But he made the brilliant move of merging with the Congress and today was rewarded with a post for that.
The fact that so many Andhra Pradesh ministers were included is clearly because of the upcoming polls. The message can't be any clearer : The party’s needs are far more important than the country’s needs!
Veerappa Moily made the right noises in public. The moment the Robert Vadra affair broke out, he gave him a clean chit. The moment the Nitin Gadkari affair broke out, he promised an enquiry. Full marks and plum post to you Mr Moily!
When Joytiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot entered politics many years back, you could have well written their futures. First they will be MPs, then Ministers of States, then they will get independent charge and they will finally become senior cabinet ministers. No surprises there! That is exactly what is happening.
While nobody doubts Shashi Tharoor’s ability and background, last time around he was dropped over an IPL scam taint. So what has changed? Nothing really! The party just waits for some time before people forget a scam. In Khurshid’s case they didn’t even do that.
Jairam Ramesh has been the one minister who exhibits a lot of common sense even though his views don’t go down well with the masses. So naturally, he didn’t make the cut!
One exception maybe Ajay Maken, an earnest Sports Minister in the past.
One should also take a look at the dynastic nature of this cabinet.
Khurshid is the son of KA Alam, who was also Foreign Minister and grandson of former President Dr Zakir Hussain. Farooq Abdullah is son of Sheikh Abdullah, former Prime Minister of Kashmir.
Ajit Singh is son of former Prime Minister Charan Singh. Jyotiraditya’s father was the late and former Union Minister Madhavrao Scindia. Sachin is the son of former Union Minister Rajesh Pilot.
Jayanthi Natarajan is the granddaughter of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Bakthavatsalam. MK Alagiri is son of former TN CM M Karunanidhi.
Jitin Prasada is son of Jitender Prasad, former Vice President of Congress. Milind Deora’s father is MP Murli Deora.
Jitendra Singh is the grandson of Sir Tej Singh Prabhakar, the last ruling Maharaja of Alwar.
That’s quite a lot! And as far as youth, it’s not a really young Cabinet. The senior ministers have been around for really long.
AK Antony first became Chief Minister of Kerala in 1977. Sharad Pawar first became Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 1978.
P Chidambaram first became a Minister in 1985. Finally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is touching 80 and first became a minister in 1991.
They are all headed by Sonia, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the founder of which Motilal Nehru was Congress President in 1919! If Rahul is Congress President in 2019, then it would be one great way of celebrating the centenary!
It is no real surprise than Rahul did not enter the Cabinet (another media hype). Sonia did not become a minister before she staked claim to be PM. Rajiv Gandhi became PM directly. Jawaharlal Nehru also became PM the moment we got Independence.
For the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the PM’s post is the first job!
Rahul will get that in 2014 or 2016 or 2019 or whatever.
Then the Cabinet will also be constituted again on the principles of loyalty, dynasty and political compulsions and we’ll all hail it as a young, vibrant and fresh Cabinet all the same!
It was inevitable that this show would be ramped up and Bhatti soon got a half-an-hour slot for Flop Show, which took the Ulta Pulta theme forward. That featured a spoof title song, followed by a short skit explaining the week’s topic, the actual serial followed by a parody song. (“Jis gali main kirayadar se jhagda na ho, us gali main hame ghar lena nahin” in the episode featuring landlord-tenant tensions!)
Bhatti kept production costs down by having his wife Savita produce the show and she also acted as his wife. (Friend Vivek Shauq who also appeared in the show, also died young.) I always wondered how Doordarshan sanctioned only 10 episodes of Flop Show as it had my entire neighbourhood in splits.
But from there Jaspal Bhatti just went berserk and exploded on the scene.
TV serials like Full Tension, Thank you Jijaji and Hye Zindagi Bye Zindagi followed and he also acted in Bollywood films like Aa Ab Laut Chalen and Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai.
He had come a long way from holding spoof dramas on the streets during his college days via his Nonsense Club or being a cartoonist in The Tribune.
He continued putting up performances all his life and parodied current events much to the delight of onlookers. Corruption and inflation were popular themes. He effortlessly made ad spoofs and continued to come out with short films throughout his career.
He proudly set up the country’s “First Comedy School” and called it the Mad Arts Jaspal Bhatti Film School.
He first tried a hand in direction with Mahaul Theek Hai, a satire on the Punjab Police. His versatility knew no bounds and he came as a judge on comedy shows and even shook a leg with his wife in the famous dance show Nach Baliye.
He was the proud owner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the infamous Golden Kela Awards.
It was no surprise that the Ulta Pulta man embraced Twitter (@JaspalBhatti69) and entertained cyberspace with his one-liners. His very last Tweet will always read: BJP 'just pretending' to fight corruption: Sonia Gandhi...and congress pretending to be honest !?!
In his website (www.jaspalbhatti.com), he introduces himself as “They call me the Ulta Pulta man”, something which he remained proud of all his life.
Like Yash Chopra, who died before the release of his last film Jab Tak Hain Jaan, Bhatti died tragically just a day before the release of Power Cut, a Punjabi film which he directed, along with playing the starring role. It’s quite an irony, for he was an electrical engineer by profession.
He died at the young age of 57 in a road accident while promoting his last film.
So long and thanks for the laughs Mr Jaspal Bhatti, we are sure that heaven must be reverberating with laughter right now, even though things have got much quieter here back on Earth!
More by this author:
So long and thanks for the laughs, Mr Ulta Pulta!
TV news media: Modi’s biggest friend!
Arvind Kejriwal and the Right to Dream (Big)
Swamy and Kejriwal beat investigative journalists
Seven lows of the Salman Khurshid press conference...
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/