It’s that time of the year: The bells are ringing and carols are being sung. Since this is my last column of 2015, maybe it’s time to look ahead to a New Year with our netas’ resolutions for 2016, without malice but with a bit of fun (why should edit page columns always be stodgy!).
Narendra Modi: I promise in 2016 to travel to all the agrarian distress districts of this country instead of being an overseas frequent flier. This doesn’t mean I won’t meet Barack, Angela, Vladimir or David, just that I have realised my votes lie in the heat and dust of India and not with NRIs who feverishly chant ‘Modi, Modi’. Maybe one day the kisan will relish taking selfies with me, and we could have a farmer’s sammelan where I can share my ‘Mann ki baat’, not just on AIR, but on every available media platform, including Facebook and Twitter (I am sure Mark, I mean Mr Zuckerburg, would like to know more about rural India).
Rahul Gandhi: I promise in 2016 not to sneak off on long holidays without informing even my party leaders. I will, of course, inform my mother and sister and brother-in law, but then family does come first always for us Gandhis. I will find out the dates of the budget session in advance this time so that my meditation break doesn’t coincide with Parliament. And yes, I intend to solve my identity crisis: Should I be clean shaven, or keep the beard.
Sonia Gandhi: In 2016, I intend to ensure that Rahul takes over as Congress president: I am already the longest-serving Congress president and it’s time for my son to become a man at last. And if he doesn’t agree, I will turn to my inner voice and just step aside. And yes, if that pesky Subramanian Swamy continues to harass us in courts, I will just have to remind him once again: I am the bahu of Indira and no judge can take that special status away from me.
Arun Jaitley: In 2016, I have decided to give up all other posts, and focus on what is my core function: Managing the finances of the country. So, no more blogging, no amateur psephology, no being party spokesperson in a crisis, no legal advice, no media management: In effect, I will cease to be the Kapil Dev of national politics. And yes, I will ensure my love for cricket doesn’t extend to the Ferozeshah Kotla: The wicket there can no longer be trusted.
Arvind Kejriwal: In 2016, I will finally get down to doing what I was elected for a year ago: Governing the national capital. I will stop picking a fight with everyone from the Prime Minister to the L-G to the Delhi police chief to the CBI and the media. Yes, I will fight pollution even if it means creating complete chaos in the city with my odd-even car scheme. My motto is the same: “A headline a day keeps the AAP at play!”
LK Advani: I am at an age where it is considered wise not to make too many resolutions, but I resolve to stay in public life. Retirement is for those who have given up on personal ambitions. I don’t know what a “margdarshak mandal” is; I am, after all, the eternal yatri. And don’t forget, the next presidential election is in 2017, just in time for my 90th birthday. Now, wouldn’t a home in Rashtrapati Bhavan be a nice present?
Mamata Banerjee: In 2016, I vow to come back to power in Bengal. If the Left could ruin Bengal over 30 years, surely I deserve a chance to do my best in 10 years? If Kejriwal thinks he is the Aam Aadmi, I am the Aam Aurat, which is why I am the only chief minister who joins street protests against my own government. We Bengalis love our bandhs, you see!
Jayalalithaa: I have also resolved to return to power in Tamil Nadu in 2016. No, I will not step out of Poes Garden to meet the flood-affected because you can’t expect me to jump over the potholes and puddles. But I will campaign from a specially designed luxury bus: One wave from Amma will be enough for the people to forget all their water woes.
Uddhav Thackeray: In 2016, I am making it very clear that no Pakistani will be allowed to visit Mumbai. We are planning to have a Shiv Sainik in every passport office in the country to check foreign visas. If anyone attempts to aid a Pakistani in getting a visa, they are being put on notice: We have a black ink factory in Dadar with a special spray (of course, we will ensure the TV cameras arrive in time to witness the blackening!).
Lalu Prasad: In 2016, I hope to complete my family album by sending Rabri Devi to the Rajya Sabha and my daughter Misa Bharti to the Vidhan Parishad. My sons will stay as ministers but they will report to me every evening. The law may have stopped me from contesting elections, but is there any law in this country that prohibits remote control?
Mulayam Singh: In 2016, I have decided that I will finally let Akhilesh run the UP government. He has learnt the ropes very fast. Did you see what a grand party he had for my birthday in Saifai? I don’t think even his one-time ‘uncle’ Amar Singh could have managed to get so many stars to come to a remote UP village. He has proven that he has what it takes to be a true Samajwadi.
Mohan Bhagwat: In 2016, I hope to realise the RSS dream of a Hindu Rashtra. And if the pseudo-secular types don’t like it, they can always return their awards. Not to me, but to Anupam Kher.
Post-script: Since New Year resolutions are made to be broken, let’s be ready for another exciting, unpredictable year in Indian politics. Happy New Year!