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From the India Gate: Rahul's tablet, ringtone of trouble and tale of two slogans

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From the India Gate Asianet News Network Special Episode 11
First Published Feb 1, 2023, 8:56 PM IST


Digitisation has really taken off. Gone are the days when Finance Ministers spoke from printed pages in physical files. Nirmala Sitharaman read the Budget from a tablet showcasing herself as the mascot of emerging digital India.

Another person who was totally engrossed in his tablet (iPad) was Rahul Gandhi. He wasn't reading the Budget but instead scrolling through some heavy text files. His smartphone lay on the table, untouched most of the time.

But the smartphone wasn't as neglected elsewhere. Several MPs were often seen busy on their screens even as the finance minister read her speech.

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There were some brave (or clever) ones in the visitors' gallery. They seemed to have "smuggled" in their phones against the rules. And their phones rang a few times even as the incoming message tones were heard regularly. 

One wonders what would have happened to them if the marshals had heard or seen them. We used the word 'brave' to describe them because one of them was even seen talking on the phone inside the House, something even the MPs and ministers would not dare to do. 


The Treasury benches were almost full way before the Budget speech began, even as the Opposition members trickled in. Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and other ruling party biggies sat expectantly when the Prime Minister walked in at 10.57 am.

But it was only at 10.59 am, just a minute before the start of the session, that Sonia Gandhi walked in and sat next to Farooq Abdullah in the front row. 


Two other personalities made late entries, though in contrasting styles. Shashi Tharoor came in, and one could immediately see why he was a popular MP. The surprise, however, was Shatrughan Sinha, who trooped in very late, at 11.53 am. There was no response or reaction from anyone. He stood, looking around to see if anyone acknowledged him. None did. He then sat down and again looked around, to no avail.


Tharoor, however, was caught doing something he would not want the world to know. He took a wrapper off something he ate, and the wrapper was conveniently disposed of in the magazine pocket (the sort you have in the aeroplane front pocket) in the seat next to him (which was vacant). Perhaps, he did not realise that what he did was directly in the line of sight of scores of scribes sitting right above his head.


Often the Treasury benches resorted to the now-familiar chant of Modi-Modi whenever some major achievement of the government or the nation came up during the speech of the Finance Minister. The Opposition members, basically Congress, would immediately scream Bharat Jodo. If they expected the rest of the Opposition to join in, that didn't happen, as the rest only looked on and smiled.

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