A new parliament

A new parliament

Sweet And Sour

 There is much less of rushing down to the well of the House, shouting slogans and forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House.

We had begun to despair that the parliamentary system of government, patterned after the British, did not suit our temperaments and we should go in for the presidential or some other form of democracy that functioned more smoothly.

The comparative decorum maintained in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha has rekindled hope that the outlook need not be so gloomy and if our MPs behave themselves, the present system can work.

Credit for this must go to the Opposition because it is usually the opposition that creates ‘hangama’ which brings proceedings to a halt.

I have only one reservation, ie against the habit of staging walk-outs. It is as childish as often when children fall out with each other, they put their thumbs under their upper dentures and shout ‘kuttee’ — I am not talking to you any more.

Houses of legislators are meant for meaningful dialogue, a give and take of different points of view and refusal to talk defeats the very purpose for which they were designed.
Another point I wish to make is, as I noticed and as many others must have noticed, our legislators do not address the Speaker or the Treasury Benches as they should, but the Press Gallery and the media — particularly TV channels which give them nation-wide coverage.

They make outrageous statements designed to make headlines of front pages of next morning’s papers. The more outrageous their statements are, the better their chances of making the news.

We saw parliamentary democracy in its ugliest form in the proceedings of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. The grim and never smiling Mehbooba Mufti wrench the mike from the Speaker; Muzaffar Baig bawling his head off at somebody. And worst of all the Speaker yelling back at members of the House using unparliamentary language. Poor Omar Abdullah, the young chief minister, almost reduced to tears over charges which are manifestly untrue, trying to walk out of the Assembly.

Leela Naidu

I knew her since she was a 12-year-old school girl in Paris. Her father, Dr Naidu was a colleague in UNESCO. She occasionally came over to have her mid-day meal with her father in the cafetaria. So did occasionally her French mother. The combination of sharp Indian features of the father and a white mother reflected in her complexton and features. She was surpassingly beautiful school girl. I had little doubt that in a few years she would blossom into a ravishing beauty and be sought after by rich young men or go into film world. I was not wrong.

The Naidus returned to India and settled down in Delhi. Leela once came to see me and asked me to give her some literature on Sikhs. I asked her why this sudden interest in Sikhism. She told me she was going to marry a Sikh, a cleanshaven Sikh, son of a rich father Mohan Singh Oberoi, founder-owner of the Oberoi chain of hotels. They were married by Sikh rites, (Anand Karaj) and she moved into a suite in the Imperial Hotel then run by the Oberois.

Leela bore Bikki Oberoi twin daughters. Then their marriage began to fall apart. Bikki was a hard-drinker and highly temperamental. It is said that one night he got so irritated by the street light in Janpath facing his bedroom window that he took out his revolver and shot it.

One afternoon Leela rang me up and asked me to come to her aid immediately. I went armed with my wife. The bedroom was in a turmoil. The couple was sitting in silence and glowering at each other. We were with them for one hour. The worst had passed.
Leela abandoned Bikki and moved to Bombay to try her luck in Bollywood. She was crowned India’s Beauty Queen and counted among the 10 most beautiful women in the world. Her looks assured her many roles. She made her debut with ‘Anuradha’ and later ‘The Households’. Other films followed. I never saw any of them.

She hitched up with a childhood friend, the poet Dom Moreas. He was writing a biography of Mrs Gandhi. I asked Mrs Gandhi how she communicated with Dom who always mumbled his words and at times barely audible. “Leela acts as my interpreter,” she replied. However, when ‘Mrs G’ was published and presented to her, instead of patting Dom on the back she snubbed him. He was shattered.

The couple moved to Hongkong. Once I stayed with them. They appeared to be very happy. Dom once confided to me that Leela was pregnant and he was looking forward to being a father. To my question Leela replied, “I am not aware of being pregnant.”

The couple were back in Bombay and drifted apart. Dom ditched her and went to other women. Leela went into depression, began to drink hard and perhaps take drugs as well. She never was able to come to terms with his betrayal. The end came on Tuesday, July 18. As they say God gives with one hand and takes it away with the other. He gave Leela good looks and talent. He deprived her of happiness.