In New Delhi, the Public Works Department planned to build bungalows for its ministers that would include, among other things, four garages [not a garage for four cars, note] and six quarters for domestic help [not quarters for six domestic help, note].
Also in New Delhi, while various Federal ministers wait – some of them in five star hotels - for alterations and upgrading of homes allotted to them, others occupy two bungalows at once.
Staying in Delhi for a beat longer, the United Progressive Alliance is rocked not by issues of the magnitude of the nuclear deal or statements relating to peace talks with Pakistan but over the non- allocation of a bungalow to ally Trinamool Congress; elsewhere a former ally is up in arms because a leader who has been progressively decimated in successive elections has not been allotted a home befitting his ‘stature’ [Unlike another ‘leader’ who had started the year in hope that she would be, if not queen, at least a king-maker in Delhi, the aforesaid leader has no holiday home in conducive climes to hide out in].
The ruling Congress party – and its chairperson – made a virtue of austerity and ‘set an example’ for the rest of us spendthrifts [never mind that the point of the example is lost on us: Sonia Gandhi was travelling on party, not government, work; it would be the party that paid the bill, so why would I give a flying f**k whether she travelled economy or business, or bought a special plane just for the trip?]. Hopefully, the money saved by Sonia madam’s economy class flight ticket and Rahul baba’s much-publicized train travels will offset expenditures such as this small matter of Rs 100 crore to ‘repair and renovate’ official bungalows.
The Opposition should be opposing – but then… oh never mind.
Meanwhile in Mumbai, Home Minister P Chidambaram’s mea maxima culpa results most tangibly in the posting of some 30 CRPF jawans near the Taj Mahal Hotel. Their residence address: the cobblestoned paving of the public space near the Gateway of India. When news of this disgrace breaks in the media [video], the government reacts not with shame, and an awareness of what is owed those whom we entrust with our security, but with embarrassment.
The jawans – all 30 of them – are hastily whisked out of sight in a fashion reminiscent of slum- clearance drives and, by way of adding gratuitous insult to injury, are reprimanded for daring to embarrass the government. Oh well – at least their new lodgings are near a public toilet; they no longer will have to use a police van for such basic private functions as changing their underwear, so perhaps we are making progress after all.
Excuse me, but I think I will spend this first anniversary of 26/11 following the cricket while allowing the commemorative noise pollution to pass me by.
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