Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Somnath Chatterjee’s book launch

Hotel Hyatt Regency Delhi: Yesterday evening I attended the launch of ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s Book Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a Parliamentarian (picture) at a function held at the Nehru Memorial Museum library’s auditorium building located at the Teen Murti Bhawan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released the book in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar who presided the function. It was a select gathering that included the family members and well-wishers of Somnath Chatterjee and some senior journalists.
The packed auditorium had among its audience Sonia Gandhi, Balram Jakhar, Dr Karan Singh, K R Rahaman Khan Saheb and a host of other dignitaries. Since all the guests reached the venue well in advance, I was sitting with Ujjwal Upadhyaya (file picture) and another friend from Delhi discussing about Education for All project, a discussion that continued from where we had left off a few weeks ago when Ujjwal was at my residence for dinner.
I was expecting to see more faces from Kolkata but could see only Mr S K ROY of Peerless, Mr Mahendra K Jalan, and Somnath da’s family members. This set me wondering whether only selected people from Kolkata were invited to the function or was it the fear of ruffling CPIM feathers that kept others from attending it.
I got a signed copy of the book which Somnathda has dedicated to his parents and Jyoti Basu. He said in his speech that he was missing them both and that Jyoti Basu would, perhaps, been the happiest person today.
All the other speakers, including the Prime Minister and Aroon Purie, director of Harper Collins Publishers India, lavished praise on Somnath Chatterjee for being the Parliamentarian he was.
Somnath da’s remark that he was grateful to his erstwhile party CPIM for giving him the ticket 11 times made me wonder what could have gone wrong all of a sudden that led to his estrangement - Was Somnath da responsible? Or Was it the CPIM party or Prakash Karat or the whole political system of the country?
After the launch of the Book, I went to the India International Centre (ICC)
to attend a function hosted by an NRI institute to felicitate Sandip Verma, Baroness-in-Waiting (picture).  Besides being the Opposition Whip in the House of Lords, UK, she is also the Minister for International Development and Minister for Equalities and Women.
The dynamic Secretary of the NRI Institute, Mr Jagmohan Singh (picture), was kind enough to extend and invitation to me as he knew about my personal acquaintance with the Baroness and her husband Ashok Verma.
It was an elite gathering of senior bureaucrats and officers, and intellectuals.  I attended the function but skipped dinner.
ess bee

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