An entirely fictional autobiographical narrative of an unknown bureaucrat
In the season of midsummer madness
By Dr L.M. Singhvi
My name proclaims the seven-star conjunction in the high heavens. My parents told me when I was a mischievous little prankster that seven is an auspicious number; they told me that a cluster of seven stars was named in Indian astronomy after seven great seers, that there are seven days in a week and seven horses who pull the solar chariot. I never quite liked my name and therefore had no urge to live up to its weighty antiquarian associations. I preferred to be a prankster all my life. To be honest for once, I am, by nature, contrarywise and I just cannot resist the temptation of being what I am. I have a feeling that the seven star seers after whom I am named have done little for me. Far from being my guardian angels, they have neglected me as a surrogate child.
I always liked to think of myself as a favoured child of destiny but I missed too many opportunities too often to retain my balance. Perhaps, the astrological conjunction of seven stars in my name was ill-fated ab initio because seven stars, like too many cooks spoiling the broth, spoilt my broth because it was overcooked.
Much to the delight and pride of my family and friends, I embarked on my career as a nut and a bolt in the steel frame of India. I am not quite sure whether I was meant to serve more as a nut or as a bolt. Everyone saw me as a disgruntled ?nut and bolt?, once I was screwed tightly into the steel frame. But to be honest, I always felt like a nut who wanted to bolt. At the end of my many years of service and self-service and on the eve of my retirement from the steel frame, I realised the futility of my life and work as a nut. No wonder I became a nut case. My ambitions were already biting dust and my illusions of grandeur were taunting me. I had longed all my life to be a lever of power in the monstrous machine of politics and pubic administration. For reasons best known to the powers that be, I never quite made it except when I fooled the venerable T. S. Krishnamurthy and the clever lawyer-turned-politician Arun Jaitley to give me testimonials of competence. But both those patrons failed me in the pursuit of my ambitions. And then I suddenly saw the writing on the wall, according to which I was to fade away into insignificant shades of dark oblivion.
Frankly I am an incorrigible narcissist. Indeed all politicians and bureaucrats are my worldview and that world revolves exclusively round me. I admit I am extremely self-opinioned. I see nothing wrong in that. I do not care for the sun if it does not light my cigarette. I would not mind casting aspersions on the sun, the moon and the stars if they do not serve my purpose. I care a tuppence for the service to which I belong.
I made a beeline for Lalu Prasad Yadav, the media hero of yesteryear. I vowed my allegiance to Laluji who is by common consent, the fodder-king of India.
When I was face to face with the nightmare of my retirement, the thought flashed on my mind that I must not lose the opportunity to take as many potshots as I could manage at the Election Commission and Chief Election Commissioner-designate. I calculated that the publicity would make me famous overnight and land me into greener pastures of fodder. I made a beeline for Lalu Prasad Yadav, the media hero of yesteryear?. I vowed my allegiance to Laluji who is by common consent, the fodder-king of India. A few days before my impending retirement, I began brewing a concoction and offered it Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav. The next day I flouted all the norms meant for nuts and bolts in the machine and transgressed all known thresholds. One media exposure after the other intoxicated me and I felt I was riding the crest of a wave. I enjoyed a few days of media glory but my family and friends looked at me with disapproval. My mentor and my source of inspiration, Lalu Prasadji was the only one who stood by me and bought my story when I was otherwise left in the lurch.
The unkindest cut was inflicted by Raghuvanshji, the grey eminence of RJD. He showed no sympathy for me. Unfortunately, Laluji'sadvocacy of my cause proved to be a kiss of euthanasia for me. The redoubtable Arun Jaitley also reneged on his previous favourable confidential rating of me. Worse still, all my fellow nuts and bolts made me an outcaste. Hansraj Bharadwaj, who was my only hope, disowned and discarded me. The editors conspired to condemn me. The President of India and the Prime Minister of India pricked my bubble and virtually pushed me down the precipice. The world suddenly saw me as a treacherous bounder when my only fault was the combination of my ambition and opportunity which invariably make the politician tick and click.
What then are my options in the hostile world into which my seven-star seers have cast me away? I am no longer a civil servant in service. The Congress-led government also denied me a comfortable quango berth or a sine cure despite the political service I have rendered to an indispensable coalition partner namely RJD, with whom I have been working in tandem. Unfortunately for me, Lalu Prasadji is not in a position to appoint me on a one-man commission on Godhra or as the Chief Engineer of Accidents. I have no hopes from Governor Buta Singh either. Perhaps I ought to file a public interest petition with a prayer for the abolition of the Election Commissioner and in the alternative to appoint me as the Sole Election Commissioner in recognition of my patriotism and my self-created image of a true maverick. Patriotism and public interest are now my last refuge before I vanish into thin air and take my place as a lonely star among the seven seers. The Supreme Court should act suo motu before I pass into the oblivion of infamy or am forced into an asylum. It would be worst if I am ignored and no one takes notice of me.
[Dr L. M. Singhvi was Member of Parliament of the third Lok Sabha (1962-67) and Rajya Sabha (1998-2004).]