SHOCK: Much to the shock of the film industry the family of the late singer Lata Mangeshkar chose Prime Minister Narendra Modi for awarded the first Lata Mangeskar Memorial Award.

THE first ever Lata Mangeshkar memorial award has been conferred by her family on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, who has been very close to Lata Mangeshkar, called her the “Voice of India.”

By Ali Peter John

How can I award my prime minister if my hate is much more powerful than my love for him ?” —Ali Peter John
I WAS at the press conference held in the basement of Prabhu Kunj building on April 17, 2022 by Lata Mangeshkar’s family to announce the Dinanath Mangeshkar Purushakar, which the late Lata Mangeshkar used to make a point by giving it away on every April 24 for more than 79 years. The only major difference is that this time the Nightingale of India was not there and the family had decided to institute an award in her name called The Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar Purushakar which would be given annually to one outstanding Indian in the country.
I, like many others, was waiting with bated breath for the announcement to be made and when it was made, I couldn’t control my feelings about what the family had done. The first Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar Purushakar was to be given to the “Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi” for his “Glorious, outstanding, spectacular and extraordinary work he has done in the service of the country.”
I told myself the award was not going to make any difference to me, they could have given it to anyone of the 130 crore Indians, but why this man who has been a close relative of endless controversies and has been mostly criticised and condemned than praised and glorified – by the very large number of bhakts who believe that Narendra Modi he is not human but God.
The news of the award for Prime Minister Modi was conveyed to him by the nephew of the great singer, the family felt that it would take some time for the PM to take some time to make a decision to accept or reject the award. He took hardly five minutes to accept the award because he believed that it was an award in the name of his “badi behen.”
The PM like always must have worked for 18 hours a day or more and inaugurated endless new projects and unveiled many more new roads, buildings, schools and colleges and other institutions for the future of great Indians, but he had told his staff that there would be no change in his program on the evening of April 24. He would be going to Mumbai to receive an award he considered greater than any other award he has received.
The Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai was packed with celebrities when Modi-ji arrived and chanted the first few lines of the Saraswati puja. But what bewildered me was the welcome address made by the nephew of the nightingale Lata Mangeshkar. He had forgotten that Modi-ji didn’t have any great respect for the English language! He forgot everything and launched his litany of praises on “Mananiya Pradhan Mantri” using platitudes like “one of the greatest leaders in the world,” “a spectacular leader,” “a Gurudev,” “one of the greatest statesman on this planet,” and then when it looked as if he was tired of the pressure to excel, he came down to “Sir!”
It was perhaps the greatest welcome address made in honour of any leader, political, literary, social and even financial. At that moment I wondered what the President of America and the Pope in Rome could have thought of this opening address! And the interesting part was that our Modi-ji was looking very pleased and even making attempts to clap. And when the address was over and the audience gave it a thunderous applause, my cranky mind was sure that the man who wrote an read out the address would certainly be on the list of the Padma Shri next year, and also find a comfortable seat and bungalow in the Rajya Sabha.
Following the opening address, there were many other speeches made by members of the Mangeshkar family and others and naturally they all spoke the most eloquent language praising their didi.
Call me a mad man or call what I am saying the working of an overworked mind, but I saw a dream that night in which I saw Modi-ji telling the audience how his relationship with didi was one that lasted 43 years. He said that he had first met his didi at one of the RSS conventions where he was introduced to her by the well-known music director Sudhir Phadke, a close friend of the RSS, who had even later on made a film on Veer Savarkar. And he said that they were didi and bhai since their first meeting in 1943.
This reminded me of all the relationships Prime Minister Modi has recently been trying to associate himself with, which included his fighting as a member of the Mukti Bahini during the Indo-Bangla conflict and how he has gone on establishing visible and invisible contacts with great personalities and great happenings in history.
When he received the award, he looked very humble and it looked as if he would almost cry, but he controlled himself and the clever politician in him came back into action when he said that Lata-ji was a singer of the people and that is why he was offering his award to the people of India. The politician in him was slowly taking over. He then talked about how Lata-ji told him about her desire to work for the people of India in the army and he further said that her one big wish was to serve the country as a samaaj sevika but that didn’t happen and that’s how she became a singer.
The crowd at the usual Dinanath Mangeshkar Awards used to be very disciplined and hardly made any noise, it reserved all the applause for Lata-ji and her songs. But this time, the hall turned into what I thought was a political meeting where the supreme leader was sitting in his supreme position and looking all around with different ideas in this eyes as groups of people kept chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi” and “Vande Mataram.” The function which started with a Saraswati puja had to end with such blatant slogan mongering and for many minutes, it looked as if Lata Mangeshkar would have sprung up from somewhere and asked in her soft voice, “Ye kya tamasha ho rha hai, ye mere pitaji ka punyatithi hai, unka adar karo, mujhe adar karo ya mat karo, mein khush hu jha pehle bhi thi aur jahan aaj bhi hun, bus meri ek hi vinti hai ki mere naam se jo purushkar hai uska bhi adar karo aur usko kabhi badnaam hone nahi dena.”
That night I had another dream associated with this function in which I saw how the whole function was turned into a political tamasha. Readers would be surprised to know that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray who is also the chief of the Shiv Sena was not even mentioned in the invitation. And the clever chief minister refused to go to the function even though his father Bal Thackeray was also a bhai of his didi. At the time of the function, the CM and his family visited the one room tenement of an 80-year-old woman, Gangabhadr Shinde, who was a grassroots level worker of the Shiv Sena, a vegetable vendor who has been a strong supporter of the Shiv Sena ever since she was in school.
Ye rajneeti ka ek naya kadam, naya rang aur naya khel to nahi hai ? Agar hai to bahut bura hai, agar ye aage se nahi hoga to aur bhi acha hoga.
Amitabh Bachchan was invited by me even though I had to stand at the gate of his Jalsa home and argue with the Gaikwad and other black belt strongman to just send the invitation card in. His personal aide Aadesh however told me that there was no need trying because Amitabh was not going to be in Bombay on April 24. Lata ji tum khush raho, tum jaha par bhi hai, aur yaha ka sochna bhi nahi, yahan sirf tumhare gaane jinda hai, baki sab hawa hi hawa hai!

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