The Prime Minister of Tawa – 53
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Urushambo had the look of a hunted man. Compared to Urushambo, Mash looked a lot less shaky even though, even though he too was quite depressed. Mash and Urushambo were at Urushambo’s plantation at Hakksadhra and each of them had a bottle of Fosters in hand.
‘So, there’s no one willing to become the next Attorney General?’ Mash asked.
‘Not on our terms. No one’s willing to become the AG and declare Horan’s decision invalid.’
‘I guess it’s understandable. No one wants to end up the way Ibraheem did,’ Mash gave Urush a lop-sided grin.
‘We shouldn’t create artificial deadlines. If we find someone suitable a year later, we can still implement our plan.’ Urshambo said.
‘Well, Osirial Mennee will have to continue till we find a replacement for him. He calls me every week and asks me condescendingly if I have managed to find someone suitable.’
‘Word’s out that we tried to use Ibraheem to invalidate Naranin’s amnesty and bring him back. That’s why it’s not easy to find someone. Some of my friends have even stopped speaking to me.’
‘You’re lucky. Peelee comes up to me at every party meeting to talk to me. He even slaps me on the back once in a while. “Is there anything I can do for you Maheshdas-raan?” he asks me whenever we meet. I wish he would keep away.’
‘The nerve! We should somehow cut him down to size.’ Mash had dropped Peelee from his ministry two days after Ibraheem was killed. ‘I’m always at your service Maheshdas-raan,’ Peelee had told him in his booming voice when Mash fired him. ‘Please let me know if you ever need me. I’ll be glad to assist you anytime and with anything.’
‘There’s only one way of cutting him down to size. We’ll have to get some of the Generals on our side.’
‘Tell me, when you meet them, do any of them smile at you?’
‘That’s not the best way of finding out who will take my side against General Naranin. There ought to be a better way.’
‘If only we knew that General X does not get on with General Y, then we could play one against the other.’ Urushambo took a large sip of his beer.
‘I don’t think we can carry it off. They all look at me as if I am their enemy. And if we approach one of them, it may backfire.’
‘Can’t we bribe one of the Generals to take our side?’ Urushambo did not sound very confident.
‘I’m sure Peelee and Horan have enough money at their disposal to out-bribe us. And the Generals know that very well. There’s no reason for any Army man to support me. I wonder how much General Naranin paid them. Half of what he made? Three fourths?’
After a lot of soul searching, Mash and Urushambo had come to the conclusion that General Naranin must have parted with a substantial portion of his loot in order to persuade Horan Samiban to issue the statement that he was free to leave the country and that Tawa had no charges against him. Some of the money must have been paid to Peelee as well. It was no wonder Horan and Peelee had been able to invest half a billion puvees in the insurance company using their relatives as front men. Maybe Nedeem too had received something. After all, he was a senior TFP member and could have objected when Horan and Peelee allowed to Naranin escape Tawan justice. Why else would Nedeem not support them when they tried to extradite General Naranin?
‘So, what do I do now?’ Mash asked Urush. It was so tempting to start drinking heavily, they way he had for a brief while when he was in his final year in college. He had signed up to do his articles with Halboroughs after graduation and his final exams were months away. Every other day he had a party to attend. His last few months at college had passed in a haze of booze, till his study holidays started. He had then sobered up and worked like a maniac till his exams were out of the way. Should he go on a binge for a few weeks and then sober up? He was not an addict and was very unlikely to become one. He could pull himself back to sobriety anytime he wanted. He had done it once and he could do it again. No, no, he would not do a Boris Yeltsin at this stage in life. A glass of wine or a pint of beer every few days, a peg or two of scotch when he had good company. He would not change his own drinking rules. He would bide his time and carry on as usual. At some point, the Generals or Horan or Peelee would make a mistake and then he would strike.
‘How’s your new cabinet colleague?’ Urushambo asked with a smirk. The Minister for Education had been inducted into the cabinet and his portfolio had been switched from Education to Land Transport and Shipping.
Mash took a large sip of his beer and said, ‘the last I heard, he has been trying to persuade the new Education Minister to swap civil servants, you know, transfer his favourite officials from the Education Ministry to his new ministry and to take in the ones in the Land Transport and Shipping ministry he doesn’t like. Not that my new Education Minister minds. He’s already told me that he would like to appoint someone he likes as the Humayun University’s Vice Chancellor when the current one retires. Do I mind?’
‘And what did you say?’
‘I said No, of course not. Why should I mind? Hmmm. Maybe I should ask him to make Sulawa the VC.’ Mash laughed.
‘You could, in another ten years time.’
‘We ought to have another university. A country like Tawa needs more than one university.’
‘How much will it cost?’
‘I don’t know. But I’d rather focus more on primary education, rather than higher education. Hopefully, in the next budget, we can allot more money for primary schools.’
‘And when will you drop Nedeem?’
‘Not for a few more months. What do you think?’
‘I think you should give him six months. Next April or so, you can drop him.’
‘He’s the slimiest of the lot. He’s never got into a single argument with me. And I don’t have a clue as to what he’s doing behind my back.’
‘That leaves Dimanan and Vikan.’
‘Dimanan is – to quote Churchill – a modest man with a lot to be modest about. He can’t be nasty or dangerous. He is too stupid for all that. I just can’t believe he used to be the Economics Professor at Humayun University! As for Vikan, Vikan is a good boy. He does what he’s told. Smiles at the right time. I’m pretty sure I can get him to eat a bone, provided by eating the bone he doesn’t offend anyone else who is of some importance.’
‘You need more people like him, then.’
‘I do wish I could find more people like him. He’s a dream come true.’
‘How’s he as a minister?’
‘To be honest, I don’t have a clue. I don’t get too many complaints against him. He keeps everyone in his department happy I think.’
‘Another beer?’ Urushambo asked Mash.
‘Tempting. But No.’
‘It’s not as if you will be driving your car.’
‘True, but this is a time when it’s easy to get addicted.’
‘You’re right. I ought to be careful as well.’
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