February 26, 2007

Ab Kahan, asks Lalu

As TV studio lights dimmed, but before the mike got switched off, following a live interveiw rail minister Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav was heard by viewers, asking, Ab kahan jana hai. I presumed that question was addressed to the TV guys who interviewed him soon after he had presented the rail budget in parliament.

Reading the papers the next morning I realised it was Lalu who was on the move, not the TV-wallahs who set up shop at the channel studio, interviewing people who came their way. As The Hindu reported, "Walking from one TV studio to another and taking up lively discussions through the electronic media, the railway minister handled all the queries with aplomb..."

On the rail budget afternoon I watched Lalu, back to back, on Zee News and NDTV, and then lost interest, as show hosts of varied genders, at different studios, tended to ask the same set of questions. In one of the shows Rabri Devi, thoughtfully positioned in front of a TV channel camera at Patna, had a question for hubby. Wanted to know how the rail minister worked the magic of giving additional passenger facilities without raising fares, and yet showed increased profit with every budget.

"You ought to know," said Lalu, and told the Bihar ex-CM that the (passenger)benefits-(rail)profit ratio worked to the advantage railways and its users alike. The minister then went on to explain it to his wife through a Lalu-Rabri household analogy. They are used to raising cows in their backyard in Patna. As Lalu put it, they give you more milk, if you give them proper care and better nourishment.

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