The political kerfuffle in Mumbai, home to India’s Bollywood movies with improbable happy endings, is as riveting as the murder mystery play we witnessed recently.
The play, ‘The Mousetrap’, written by Agatha Christie, had a catchline on the ticket, ‘Suspect Everyone’, it said.
It is incidentally, the longest play on London’s West End, running continuously since 1952.
Neither my wife and I had heard the radio play, ‘Three Blind Mice’, which was written for Queen Mary as a birthday gift, and on which the theatre play is based.
Getting to the venue in Whitefield was equally suspenseful as the theatre said no latecomer would to be allowed in once the play starts.
Our watches showed that we were a good 15 minutes away from the venue but were now trapped in Bengaluru’s infamous traffic jams, though we had embarked on the journey from our home in North Bengaluru, a good 90 minutes ahead of time.
Getting down from the car and walking to the theatre still did not give us enough time, so we sat and waited in the car, in the traffic, with bated breath.
The nephew (Ajit Pawar) was then kicked out of the party and as this column goes to the press, the thriller moved to the Supreme Court that decides who should rule Mumbai, the city that never sleeps and gives us great movies with happy endings.
Just like the Christie play, a political twister was occurring in India’s Western state of Maharasthra, where two right-wing, ultra-nationalist parties were both vying to take charge of Mumbai, the financial capital of the country.
The two strange bedfellows, BJP (roughly translated as India’s Peoples Party) and Shiv Sena (Army of Shivaji) together won the largest number of seats in the recent assembly by polls, but the latter pulled out from the coalition as the former did not agree to share the chief minister’s post on a revolving basis.
The political drama continued for days and subsequently President’s Rule was imposed on the State.
The Sena then formed an alliance with the Indian National Congress (INC) party (a centre-of-left secular party) that is headed by Sonia Gandhi, a “foreigner” (as dubbed by the former Sena supremo) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP, whose leader broke away from the INC as he did not like the Italian-born Sonia heading the party).
After a lot of running back and forth between Delhi and Mumbai and a lot of trepidation as the INC shuddered at the thought of allying itself with a far-right party and losing whatever credibility it had left, it was decided to form the government with the new Sena supremo as chief minister.
The bunch of lawmakers or MLAs (member of the Legislative Assembly) were safely locked up in various hotels for the night and their mobile phones taken away, so as to deflect any move by the BJP to woo lawmakers to its side with bribes and threats.
One lawmaker was seen heading for the airport and was caught and brought back to his party, three others were traced hiding in another state.
Shashi Tharoor, a Congressman who loves obscure words, called the whole rigmarole, as a ‘snollygoster”, US slang for a shrewd, unprincipled politician.
Everybody finally slept. But quietly in the night, the President of India lifted the President’s Rule that was imposed on the State.
The governor quickly swore in the BJP leader as the chief minister and the nephew of the NCP chief as the deputy, in the early hours of the morning, even before the milkman went on his rounds.
All the morning newspapers had the wrong headline on their front pages.
The nephew was then kicked out of the party and as this column goes to the press, the thriller moved to the Supreme Court that decides who should rule Mumbai, the city that never sleeps and gives us great movies with happy endings.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.