Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi appeared in Supreme Court Friday for the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, opposing the state BJP’s demand for deployment of central forces in the state to ensure free and fair panchayat elections. Interestingly, while he was arguing the matter in the apex court, the Calcutta High Court was hearing a plea by the West Bengal unit president of his party, who also sought deployment of central forces in the state for the panchayat elections. Lok Sabha member and West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is said to be upset with Singhvi fighting the case for the TMC-led Bengal government. Singhvi was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha with the TMC’s support.
The Mahatma Gandhi statue in front of gate number 1 of Parliament House, venue of protests by parties of all political hues since March 5, when the Budget Session resumed after recess, on Friday, there were new protesters there. Union ministers Maneka Gandhi, Uma Bharti, S S Ahluwalia, Jitendra Singh and P P Choudhary stood in front of the statue, holding placards asking the Congress to stop hypocrisy and save democracy. The ministers had joined BJP MPs, who were raising slogans against the Congress. Congress MPs led by Sushmita Dev and Ranjeeta Ranjan came out soon, shouting “Modi haye haye”. Most visitors who had come to see Parliament were amused at the sight of Union ministers protesting before the Gandhi statue. Some MPs also quipped that they were seeing the likes of Uma Bharati for the first time since the second leg of the session began.
SRK In Tune
As the session came to a close, last-minute parleys meant Opposition MPs reached out to each other to decide the future course of action. When Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad tried to call Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien, he hit the latter’s caller tune: “Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi” — an old Shah Rukh Khan hit. An exasperated Azad put the phone on loudspeaker and said, “He is making me listen to the entire song.”