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Mirabai verses, Tagore & Kishore songs — Rajya Sabha plans musical adieu for retiring members

Performance by 6 MPs will be part of dinner hosted by Vice President Naidu for 72 RS members. While some of them retired in March, 19 will retire in April & rest in coming months till August.

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New Delhi: On the floor of the Rajya Sabha, they may have impressed many in the past with their erudite, at times fiery speeches, often delivered impromptu. On Thursday evening, however, six Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament (MPs) will showcase their musical talents at a farewell dinner for some of their retiring colleagues.

From songs by Rabindranath Tagore, to Kishore Kumar numbers, Mirabai’s pad (verses from Mriabai’s poem) to a famous Tamil song sung by southern playback singer P.B. Sreenivas, the six MPs are gearing up to enthrall the august gathering with a mixed bag of selections. In addition to their solo performances, the six MPs will also put up a chorus — Kishore Kumar’s popular number Chalte chalte mere yeh geet yaad rakhna, from the 1976 film Chalte Chalte.

This is the second time in the Rajya Sabha’s history that members will be showcasing their cultural talents. Parliamentary sources told ThePrint that 20 years back, during the biennial retirement of Upper House members, Balkavi Bairagi — a then RS member from Madhya Pradesh — had put up a musical performance, along with a few others.

Thursday’s dinner is being hosted by Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu for 72 retiring members. While some of them have already retired in March, 19 will be retiring in April, and the others over subsequent months, till August.

The vice president had set up a committee under deputy chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, to plan the event, which tasked Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy to put together performances by interested members.

But while their speeches in Parliament may have not required much, or any, rehearsal, many of the six MPs who’ll be performing Thursday evening are being more careful about their musical presentations. Many told ThePrint that for the past week or so, they have been juggling ongoing Rajya Sabha proceedings and their other commitments, with rehearsals at home, and even at the Parliament Annexe.

ThePrint caught up with the six MPs ahead of their big show.


Also read: Rajya Sabha discussion on J&K Budget turns into debate on ‘Kashmir Files’, opposition slams BJP


‘It’s the feeling that matters’

“I have butterflies in my stomach… I am not a professional like Sonal Mansingh ji or even Dola Sen, who sings well. I sing sometimes, at informal family get-togethers,” Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan told ThePrint. She is planning to sing the Kishore Kumar number Ruk jana nahin kahin tu har ke, from the 1974 Vinod Khanna starrer Imtihaan.

The MP said that except for Monday, when most of the six performers had gathered at the Parliament Annexe to practice, their busy parliament schedule has not left them with much time to rehearse.

“It’s the feeling towards the retiring MPs that matters. The sur (the musical note) may not be perfect, but the feelings are,” Chavan added.

Dancer and BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Sonal Mansingh, admitted that she had originally wanted to dance, but had to give up that idea because it would have require more elaborate arrangements. “So I chose to recite Mirabai’s pad” instead — verse written by the 16th century Hindu mystic poetess, Mirabai.

Trinamool Congress MP Dola Sen, on the other hand, will be singing a Rabindra sangeet, Bidhir badhon katbe tumi. The song had been composed by the bard in 1905, after Bengal was partitioned by the British.

“I am an activist, good at sloganeering, not singing. But it will be my pleasure to sing a farewell song for my fellow colleagues who are retiring,” Sen told ThePrint.

She added: “I could not go to the rehearsal at Parliament Annexe. I sing informally. I am not used to singing in a formal setting… I get nervous.”

Her Trinamool Congress colleague, Dr Santanu Sen, is also among those who’ll be performing Thursday. A professional guitarist, Sen will play a romantic Kishore Kumar song, Pal pal dil ke paas tum rehti ho, from the 1973 film Blackmail, on the guitar.

“I have a professional band in Kolkata and play the guitar frequently, but it’s the first time that I will play for fellow parliamentarians,” Sen said.

Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP, Tiruchi Siva, has chosen a Tamil song, originally sung by noted southern playback singer P.B. Sreenivas, for the event. “It’s an old melody from a Tamil movie,” he told ThePrint.

Siva too admitted that he was a little nervous about the performance, as he could not practice much because of his busy parliament schedule.

The eldest among Thursday’s performers is 72-year-old BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Ram Chandra Jhangra, who said that he did not need to practice, as he often sings at get-togethers with friends.

“I have a gang of friends from my native village Kharkhara in Haryana. Once a month, we meet at my place in Meham, where we gossip about old times and sing. That’s the secret of my good health at 72,” Jhangra said.

He added: “I have chosen two songs — Bharat ka rehne wala hoon from the movie Purab and Paschim and Zindagi kaisi hai paheli from the Rajesh Khanna starrer Anand. I will sing whichever song the members want to hear.”

In addition to the evening’s farewell dinner, the 72 retiring MPs will also be bidden farewell at the Upper House Thursday, with Vice President Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of the House Piyush Goyal, Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, leaders of various parties and several of the retiring members addressing the House.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


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