NEW DELHI: On the precincts of Parliament House, the President’s mounted guards sat still in their saddles waiting for the Rashtrapati to arrive, while the mercury partnered the sun’s ascent into the hot white sky. Inside Central Hall, members from both Houses were slowly filling up the famous semi-circle under the great dome that soared like the ancient benediction of the founding fathers. The nuances of power showed in postures, gait and greetings of the victors. The years seemed to have fallen off the old UP warhorse, Kalraj Mishra as he rushed to greet Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Rajnath’s broad shoulders bore the assurance of power effortlessly. Many MPs acted subserviently, bowing low, which Singh seemed to discourage.
In the second row sat the unlikely triumvirate of Mulayam Singh, Sharad Pawar and M M Joshi — the former two, sure of their place, accepted homage from the many who eagerly clasped their hands. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dressed in pastels of brown, sat facing the Chair in his classic posture — head thrown back, chest out, leaning back slightly on his seat. Manmohan Singh trotted along the aisle towards the front row. The line rose in ironic respect to the man who handed the BJP victory on a platter.
Then Sonia Gandhi and her neighbour L K Advani returned to their conversation and beside them, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda was lost in indifferent meditation. The trumpets from the Speaker’s Gallery announced the President was about to begin his address to Parliament.
The speech augured the BJP’s agenda and attitude - a vote for hope reflecting the transcendence over caste and religion, the promise of development for an inflation weary, stagnating India.
When President Mukherjee spelt out Modi’s new mantra- Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat, (One India, Better India) the treasury benches resounded with the thumping of desks.
It woke up Motilal Vora, dozing next to Rahul Gandhi who was listening to Jairam Ramesh’s monologue.
During the speech, Jairam’s Mont Blanc was busy jotting down points. He kept leaning across a somnolent Vora to brief his young boss. Throughout the address, they conducted a long conversation.
The address was not just a promise for the future but also a condemnation of the past.
Contemporary ideas replaced the old - digital India, social media, e-enabled schools and more. The Modi stamp was apparent in “Rurban” India as a modern national blueprint, in which technology and tradition coexisted as high-speed agri-rail networks and
Himalayan studies. Modi’s grasp of the power of technology in politics and governance was evident when Mukherjee spoke of combating cyber-terror and developing software potential.
One could almost hear Modi’s voice in the alliterative slogans: ‘Skill, Scale and Speed’, ‘Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology’ and ‘Democracy, Demography and Demand’.
After the Lok Sabha adjourned, MPs sat around schmoozing in Central Hall, digging into chicken biryani or khichdi.
Many first timers were getting acquainted over tea and plates of cut fruit. “I don’t recognise most MPs here, some from even my own party,” joked a bemused MP. Madhusudan Mistry planked himself on a middle seat, but it was obvious that not just the chair, but the tables had also turned - Rahul’s erstwhile poll guru and ticket selection czar received little attention.
Only Digvijay Singh seemed to be still in power: tall, trim and erect in a grey vest and starched khadi. Members of all parties rushed to shake hands. His bad advice to Rahul had made little difference.
After the President’s Address was over, the Prime Minister, on his way out briefly gripped Rahul’s wrist in an avuncular fashion, startling the ‘shehzada’. All may not be lost for Rahul. Jairam was taking notes after all.