17 February, 2013



[On a certain day mid 2014]

The Prime Minister here. Who is calling?
Sir, I am Banjara, calling from Sabarmati
[A little bewildered]
Oh, I see. How are you, Banjara? Who gave you this number?
Thank you, Sir. I have all comforts in this jail. Sir, I took your number from Kaju Kajrangi
Sir, I called to ask you for a small favour, Sir. This is about that vacancy you are going to fill for India’s ambassador to France.
What about it, Banjara.
Sir, my brother-in-law is eminently suitable for this position. He is a graduate and runs a successful trading business, Sir.
[Laughging…] You see, Banjara, this is a very senior position. Goes to a senior politician or IFS officer. Ha, ha ha.
I know, Sir. But my brother-in-law is no ordinary man either. He also knows some French, Sir.
Your brother-in-law is my brother-in-law, Banjara. But there are rules governing such appointments.
Never mind, Sir. By the way, Sir, you remember that Ishrat Bano encounter that you ordered?
[Flabbergasted] You see, Banjara, please, you are such a loyal friend. Please appreciate that I will be in serious trouble if such appointment is made.
And if it is not made, I will keep quiet, Sir. But my brother-in-law knows about these encounters and has threatened to spill the beans, Sir. I am helpless, Sir.
OK, OK. Please silence him. Make sure that he is firmly in control. I will see how to do this. But please be careful. If I stay longer there is much to gain for both of us.
Yes, Sir. Always at your service, Sir. Waiting for the press release, Sir. Good bye, Sir.
[Sodi, sweating]. Yes, Yes, I will. I will.

[Worried] This is the Prime Minister of India.
[Caller] Halllo
Who is calling my personal number at this late hour?
Shu Sodi Bhai, shu majak karo cho. Forgot my voice after going to Delhi. I am your loyal friend Asit Shah.
Oh, yes, I recognized Asit bhai, but this late?
Aisa hai, Sodi bhai, I just came to know that you are finalizing 4G allocation tomorrow afternoon.
Yes, it is true, but this was a confidential cabinet decision. Who told you?
I over-heard Manandi speaking with Gautam Wadhani.
Oh, so she knows, this, too. Alright, but what do you have to say about this?
Oh, not much, Sodi bhai. I am sending our proposal by fax in the morning. I have set up a telecom company today specially for this. Please make sure that we get this Western bandwidth allocation.
What? At this late stage? Arree baba all tender formalities have been long since completed. Now it is impossible. And global players are involved in this, Asit bhai.
[A little cut-up] Sodi Bhai, don’t you tell me about procedures. Sohrabuddd
[Interrupting], Asit bhai, stop, stop. No phone is secure. You see, the CIA is tapping my phone. Please, my friend, this 4G business is…
Jitendra bhai, the builders whom I blackmailed for you, from whom I extorted millions at short notices are…
[Interrupting again, exasperated, desperate], Stop, Asit, stop baba. OK, OK, I will see how to do this. I will postpone tomorrow’s allotment. I will announce that in the national interest we have called for fresh bids. You submit the proposal in a week. But please don’t talk like this on the phone. If I stay longer as the PM you stand to benefit better.
Oh, thank you, thank you. As always, I am your old trusted friend Sodi bhai. Good night.
[Frustrated], yes, yes, good night. Good night.

Oh, no……………..
[Doesn’t take the phone. Collapses.]

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