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Portraits | The Indian Express

Portraits. Summary. Take a tour of Indias Parliamentwhen its members are not indulging in mayhemand history,as the cliché goes,exudes from the walls. That is largely because the portraits that line the stately corridors are of prominent Indians who made history or were part of it. Actually,Parliamentwhen it is functioningalso has people who deserve to be preserved for posterity for various reasons. Here are some prominent examples. If the army feels it requires continuation of the AFSPA to discharge its responsibilities, no other agency is qualified to credibly challenge that view. Meira Kumar: Whatever the occasion,members storming the well,hurling abuse,making personal attacks or creating the usual din,the Lok Sabha Speaker sits there with a regal air,a beatific Mona Lisa-type smile on her face,quite unmoved by the goings-on. It may be her diplomatic background that makes her seem so impervious but that smile deserves to be pasted somewhere permanent so that it can inspire all those who follow. It would be even better if that equally distinctive voice repeating please return to your seats is preserved as well. A K Antony: Widely referred to as St Antony for his saintly image,he was another who would sit through the mayhem with Christian fortitude,protected by the headphones he wore all the time,like a security blanket,whether the debate was in English or Hindi or in an unparliamentary language. Now,the portrait,and the image,has changed and the halo come undone with his doublespeak on the LoC incident. A Defence Minister with no defence does not make for a pretty picture. Manmohan Singh: His portrait already hangs on many official walls because of his position as Prime Minister,but whenever the camera focuses on him in Parliament,it shows the same expression,or lack of it,and would be exactly the same in footage shot nine years ago. There have been SMS jokes about that with reference to Madame Tussauds,but there would be some relief if his impassive expression did change,even a fraction,to show some emotion. Sushma Swaraj: Takes her role as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha somewhat literally,leading the charge in opposing the government with her customary aggressiveness and over-the-top oratory. Her permanent image would be that of Durga,the invincible,waving around arms,holding multiple weapons to make her point,and complete the warrior imagery as the angry avenger. Tough act to follow,literally. Maneka Gandhi: Not all that active in stormy parliamentary debates but it is the causes she espouses that make her stand out like a sturdy tree in a storm. Her support for dogs,birds,trees,and indeed all living creatures makes for interesting diversions,even if she is the only one who is keeping the Prime Ministers animal spirit alive and kicking. There are already enough portraits labelled Gandhi on the walls,so one more,swaddled in green,wouldnt matter. Subramanian Swamy: Once the hero of Parliament for his Scarlet Pimpernel-like daredevilry during the Emergency,his standards have dropped since then,with his entirely anti-Congress invective,the most tasteless of which he reserves for members of the Gandhi family and anything Italian,said mostly outside Parliament. Inside,having aligned with the BJP,he sits on the extreme right. Young parliamentarians: Much hope was invested in them,led by Rahul Gandhi,but their parliamentary performance suggests that their place on that wall is best left blank; it will be quite expressive.
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