Home India Politics Lalu steals show as MPs mingle during vice presidential poll

Lalu steals show as MPs mingle during vice presidential poll


New Delhi : It was a time for leg-pulling, cracking jokes and mingling as MPs Friday flocked to Room No. 62 of Parliament House here to cast their votes for electing India’s 12th vice president.

The MPs of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were understandably the happiest lot as their candidate Hamid Ansari, former diplomat and academic who is also supported by the Left, was the sure winner.

As politicians from across the spectrum interacted, what was striking was the camaraderie between them and the total lack of any animosity.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, as usual, stole the show. As soon as he and his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MPs came out of the room after casting their votes, he went straight to Rajya Sabha member Hema Malini, who was chatting with her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) colleague Mukthar Abbas Naqvi.

As Lalu was engaged in an animated conversation with the film star-turned-politician, dozens of cameramen shouted ‘Laluji idhar dekho (Laluji please look this way)’.

Lalu, with his never-to-disappoint-anyone attitude, turned towards them and gestured to Hema Malini to also do so. He then dropped a bombshell of sorts when he told journalists Hema Malini would be making a new movie in which he would have a role.

“But the name of the movie is a secret,” Lalu added for good measure.

As Hema Malini waited for the elevator to take her to the ground floor, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and some other women MPs also arrived there. All of them happily travelled down in the same lift. The Congress president and the actress were also seen exchanging greetings.

While MPs from some of the smaller parties came in batches, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar arrived with his MP daughter Supriya Sule and two Nationalist Congress Party members.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and his son Milind came together. Milind, who is always on guard in his father’s presence, gestured to journalists that he would catch up with them later.

Parliamentarians cutting across party lines were seen greeting and comforting Priya Dutt, who was looking very tense but struggled to maintain her composure ahead of a Supreme Court hearing of her actor brother Sanjay Dutt’s bail application.

After casting her vote, Priya Dutt, pregnant with her second child, was escorted out by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who has publicly announced his support for the family’s efforts to bring relief to the actor.

Talking to IANS, a visibly shaken Priya Dutt said: “I seriously do not know what is going to happen. I do not know whether I should have hope or remain neutral. Last time, I had too much hope.”

Dutt has been sentenced to six year’s rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

The voting picked up slowly as the many MPs preferred to first go to their respective Houses, where tributes were paid to deceased MPs including former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

However, the parliament building proved to be “unfriendly” for people on wheelchairs.

Congress MP Ajit Jogi, who has been on a wheelchair since a road accident in 2004, had to wait for long after he came out of lift no.1 as his wheel chair could not pass through the electronic security metal frames. He went down and came up on another lift but still had to be carried over the metal frames.

A similar thing happened to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and to Pappu Yadav, who was brought from prison with special permission by the Supreme Court to cast his vote.

Vajpayee, along with BJP president Rajnath Singh and the National Democratic Alliance candidate Najma Heptulla came after 12 noon to cast his vote. Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani also joined them soon.

Although they were complaining about the sultry weather, MPs were visibly happy on the first day of the monsoon session.

“Oh my god, you lost weight,” one MP, who later insisted that his name should not be mentioned, was heard telling a friend.

“See, you were watching the spectacle of a normal election,” Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy told journalists, aptly summing up the scene in the parliament complex.