It seems naming the prime minister is the game of the season.
I don't know, I thought the duty of naming someone was the prerogative of the parents. I mean, imagine if our incumbent prime minister had been named Hasmukh Singh or some such.
What a travesty that would have been. Perhaps they are now more careful about such things, because during my rounds of the political camps in the Capital, I saw everyone caught up in the excitement about naming the prime minister.
There was this motley group in ultra-white khadi discussing the issue. From snatches of conversation, I understood they comprised the empowered group of ministers formed to name the prime minister.
"You know the name must reflect our party's core requirement of a supreme leader. For 10-12 years, the janata has accepted the great virtue of silence of our leadership. If silence is golden, then that means our silent leadership is a golden leadership, don't forget that," said one.
Another added, "Yes, that is good to start with. But have you considered that we cannot do without the great surname? See the surname is so great that even if our leader-who-is-not-a-leader was to lead us, she would have to drop the V from her PGV. 'Drop the V for Victory', what a slogan, eh," he smiled at his own cleverness.
"Okay, that's enough," snapped the third, a bespectacled man who carried a fat book in his hands (I espied its title, World's Greatest Insults on Twitter). "So we go with surname first, and we have an attribute for the first name," he mused. "Surname… surname … that's easy. Let's go with Gandhi." There was immediate assent all round. "Now the first name."
This was obviously a trickier task for the group. A first name that spells silence? There was scratching of the head and other parts of the anatomy, there was collective surfing on Google on their 3G-enabled phones, and an old hand reputed for calling his Uttar Pradesh rivals all sorts of names was summoned too.
To no avail. In the end, the Congress decided to simply name its prime minister "Mookmantri Gandhi".
BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY:
The saffron camp too was all atwitter when I came across them discussing the vital issue of naming their prime minister.
Between trishul waving and onion juggling, the group decided on the fundamentals for the name.
It must tell people that the prime minister was a doer. The name must sound decisive. The name must sound nationalistic.
"He can wear a mukhauta for all it matters, but his name must be inspiring," pontificated a vest-coat wearing worthy.
Cries of "Jai Shri Ram" greeted this sentiment in acclamation. Then a man with piercing eyes, snorting nose and overconfident gait walked in. "Can you change the economy?" the assembly shouted.
"Me can do," said the overconfident man, and there was added joy at his English, for it forcefully spoke of the Indian nationalism that had been injected into a colonial language. "Can you speak?" "Me can do." "Can you be decisive?" "Me can do." "Can you wear many hats?"
There was a little hesitation with perhaps the image of a skull cap appearing in his mind, but the man quickly recovered and said, "Me can do." Amid a litany of such dares and affirmative answers, nobody noticed that a wily 85-year-old had slipped in his own question,
"Can you divide the nation?" and got an instant "Me can do" for an answer.
The wily old man smiled knowingly. Soon after the inquisition, the party president announced they would now name their prime minister. "He will be named, and I have the approval of everyone on this," he said, "He will be called Narendra Me-Do."
THIRD FRONT, aka THE DREAMERS:
While the big two were naming the prime minister, the rest were not sitting idle.
They congregated, reluctantly and warily I felt, to sort out the name issue, even if some had to be pulled away from clashes of all sorts in their states. There was more hubbub in this group than in the other two.
And in the melee, all you could hear were endless snatches of "me" and "I" and "no, me" and "ha, ha, what you, it's me". Obviously, there was never going to be a consensus on the issue here.
However, just before I left that meeting, I saw 10 people stand up and announce 10 different names, at which they all started slinging mud at each other again.