Some would say there are many thrills and advantages to being married to a Bong. Ummmm… yes and no. Their obsession with food, beverages and politics (bhaalo khaabar, daarun daaru and fatafati adda), can be tedious for those of us who dislike mixing the three. Why ruin a great meal discussing P. Chidambaram’s arrest? Well… that was my fate earlier this week, as two Bengali gentlemen (one, intimately related to moi, the other, a bondhu), seriously impacted my relaxed evening with a decent Red, by bringing up Chids (he was “missing” at that point). Guys! Really? And this was right after a tedious, rambling one-hour discourse on the arts by another Bengali gentleman. If you ask me, that was way too many Bengalis to handle in one short evening at the neighbourhood club. I tried hard to divert the topic from Chids, his battery of lawyers, and the determined ED, CBI, income tax chaps out to get him, by focusing on a kabbadi match on the strategically placed television screen over the wooden bar. Niccccee! I kept saying, watching hirsute fellows slapping their thighs and grabbing one another’s body parts, while Abhishek Bachchan clapped from the sidelines. But the Bengalis would have none of it. They were stuck on Chids. And being most disrespectful (hahahahaha!) towards our former finance minister: “Why is he hiding?” they wondered. Hiding? What rubbish! Is he a kid to play “chhupa chhupi”? I said in my plain-speaking Maharashtrian way: “Surely those sleuths know exactly where he is. Don’t they have a tail on him? You guys relax, and leave the cops to do their job.” But they were obsessively checking their phones for updates on Chids’ “secret location” in Delhi, from jasoosi experts sitting in Mumbai. “How would these guys know?” I asked, as one more kabbadi player rolled around on the mat. It was clear I was being ignored. I offered my own theory, “Perhaps, Chids is buying time… doing some last minute ‘setting’, what with those legal heavyweights staking their reputations to defend him… I mean, look at the line-up… Kapil, Salman, Abhishek…” The men scoffed at the suggestion. “No chance! He’s gone!” said one Bengali gleefully. The other one looked thoughtful and offered a solution. “Chids should do a ‘mutual’… and get out of the jhamela.” Huh? “‘Mutual’ maaney ki?” I asked. The Bengali explained how a “mutual” works in Kolkata… Supposing there is a massive dispute between two warring partners, and a stalemate happens. There is just one way to resolve the issue — a senior member of the community is asked to intervene and defuse the situation. The elder shows up, patiently listens to both sides and utters the magic words, “Mutual korey dao” (“Do a mutual” — literal translation). A quick compromise is reached and it ends well with the practical and priceless advice, “Cholo, cholo… handshake koro.” That’s it.
Which made me think about Chids and the monumental mess he’s in. Did his Tam Bram arrogance let him down finally? His sense of entitlement must have been exaggerated enough to make him believe he was an untouchable. How come? Does he not know how things work around here these days? He is seen as the man who put Amit Shah behind bars. Now it’s Mr Shah’s turn to return the favour. Yup. Tit for tat. That’s how it is in love and politics. Given that it would only be a matter of time before all those funny money deals caught up with him, his son and wife — why didn’t Chids do a “mutual” with the one person who has got him into this disastrous situation? I am talking about Indrani Mukherjee. So well matched, these two… in more ways than one. The day she turned approver, everyone knew Chids’ game was up and his idlis were cooked. Indrani had done “mutuals” with so many others in the past. She would have been receptive to a really, really colossal “mutual” this time too. Chids slipped up. And how.
Chances of Indrani walking free after this double cross are pretty high. That may be a part of her personal “mutual”. But what about Chids and his future? He miscalculated on so many fronts — crazy! Those labyrinthine, convoluted funny money routes taken make zero sense, for a man with Chids’ razor sharp intellect. What was he thinking? I’ll tell you… people like Chids who amass unthinkable power and wealth during their unchallenged reign at the top, start living in a delusionary state in which there are no obstacles. At any rate, they start hallucinating that there is nobody and nothing that can’t be managed, provided the “mutual” is in place. He isn’t the only one. There are countless others from his era and background who believed in their own invincibility. A few continue to live in la la land. But the old order has changed. Political vendetta is not a BJP invention. It is a common tool adopted by successive administrations to assert their position and show who is boss. In Chids’ case, the method may be crude, but the objective remains the same — fix your enemies before it’s too late.
It’s useless to talk about “following the law” scrupulously blah blah blah. It sounds good on paper. But how does it actually work in reality? Chids will finally know what it feels to be at the receiving end of the system — the same one he and his cronies have exploited over decades. Of course, the current government is being selective and carefully picking cases for maximum shock and awe. Optics matter these days. Watching those herogiri investigating officers scaling gates in pursuit of their quarry, adds drama and tension to the Chids saga. Suddenly, all those posher than posh Congresswalas resemble wet crows caught in an unseasonal downpour. From the looks of things, Chids will be in there for a while. He may soon be joined by more Congress buddies with dodgy financial trails. Thank God he managed to get a decent haircut before they came for him.
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