Friday, October 28, 2016

INS VIRAAT - Margdarshan Mandals Strike Back ! (3)

By Manuwant Choudhary

Narendra Modi is been having bad dreams ever since Mulayam Singh took on his son Akhilesh Yadav in UP, and Ratan Tata  ousts the young and dynamic Cyrus Mistry.

But he has had no time even to read Ratan Tata's letter.

The man who disturbs Modi's sleep is  L.K. Advani...the leader of the BJPs own Margdarshan Mandal.

When the `Hurriyat' in Kashmir refused to meet any of Modi's men or even our MPs, they agreed to meet a member of this `mandal' Yashwant Sinha.

How powerful?

But let me not digress, old aircraft carriers can be decommissioned, old factories scrapped but old ideas, prejudices, political ideologies, caste reservations  and old politicians continue...

I really enjoyed my stay on INS Viraat especially when we were allowed to go to any part of the ship we wanted.

It was fun.

We became children once more, discovering level after level with a wonder.

If I remember correctly, INS Viraat had seven levels..each one with those steel ladders like in a chimney.

I kept wondering how the ship moved.

Its only when we got to the engine room that our questions were answered.

The INS Viraat is a steam-driven ship.

Water from the sea is taken and boilers turn it into steam and the heavy pressures turn the engines turbine...

Even the water is purified and sent through pipes to different parts of the ship.

A wonder - maybe they should dock this in Tamil Nadu - so they stop fighting over drinking water..

But the engine room is hot..above 50 degrees at all times and the men who work there get only a 4 hour shift.

Its unbearable to spend more time near the furnace.

The perk - free ice-creams.

I met a few of the men enjoying their ice creams under a direct blast of cold air, soon after their duty got over.

I talked to them and admired them..they were in their vests..sweaty and exhausted from the heat....when one of them asked me where I was from?

I told them, "Bihar".

Their eyes lit up, their exhaustion gave way to smiles.

Most of them were from Bihar, some from UP - the men Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena attack repeatedly.

But here they did not ask me my caste or religion, they were all proud Indians.

INS Viraat is a marvel !

But journalists are permitted to be my main aim I confess was only to watch the defence minister rapple from one moving ship to another.

The last time the defence minister did this was Sharad Pawar, in his white trouser and shirt.

But our raksha mantri was Mulayam Singh Yadav and my imagination went haywire as to how he would rapple across ships, in high velocity winds, in his dhoti !

He chickened out at the last minute.

But I also wanted an exclusive interview with him, so one day I managed to shake off the other journalists and went around the ship looking for Mulayam Singh Yadav.

And what luck when I see Mulayam Singh Yadav alone on the deck, looking pensively into the Arabian Sea...

Here was what I was waiting for...

I went close to him..real near..and was about to tap him on his shoulder when I stopped.

Mulayam was not wearing a dhoti, but a pyjama !

I looked closely - he turned out to be Mulayam's brother - Shivpal Yadav !(The man in the eye of the storm in UP now)

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