The beleaguered World Culture Festival (WCF), being organised along the banks of the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi, had already attracted its share of controversy without having to deal with guests dropping out. But Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, it seems, had a change of mind owing to fears that he would cut a forlorn figure. According to reports emanating from Zimbabwe, Mugabe was supposed to be the chief guest at the Art of Living Foundation's event. To that effect, the president made his way to New Delhi — even threatening to punch a reporter in the face just before taking his flight.
But on Wednesday, Mugabe’s press secretary George Charamba, issued a statement from New Delhi in which he announced that the Zimbabwean president would sadly be declining the invitation. "The cancellation follows communication from organisers of the festival acknowledging substantial inadequacies in protocol and security arrangements around the event. A number of leaders slotted for participation, including those from the host country, have also withdrawn their participation. The President is expected home in a couple of days,” said Charamba.
Clearly Pranabda’s absence resonated strongly with the 92-year-old dictator, who perhaps beat a hasty retreat back home in order to avoid having to share stage with less worthies.
AOL Foundation was apparently quick to swing into action and delete any trace of Mugabe's presence from the WCF website — if such traces existed at all, it must be noted.
At times like these, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar may be grateful that Firstpost exists.
We have painstakingly put together a list of names he could consider — people who wouldn ensure Mugabe’s absence was not felt:
Kim Jong Un
He would at least ensure Mugabe isn’t very badly missed by the thousands of people who would doubtless show up at the World Culture Festival to watch a loony dictator in the flesh. If Mugabe once threatened to punch a reporter for asking him about his retirement plans, Kim threatens to fire nuclear missiles every time anybody even looks at him. It’s a perfect fit.
The man is busy running a presidential campaign in the US, but there is literally nothing he will not do for free publicity, so Sri Sri might want to tap into this resource. He is also the man who gave us gems like “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass”. Maybe he could club the India visit with a trip to the Times Now studio, whereby he could enter into a shouting match with the very graceful Arnab Goswami.
He amassed vast sums of money, held an iron-fisted hold over the country’s politics and sports, indulged in serious high-level corruption, invited several women home for “bunga bunga” parties and basically had to be shoved out before he left. We should basically give him Indian citizenship at once. Since that is not happening any time soon, the least we can do is have him attend Sri Sri’s ambitious programme.
The one-time King of Good Times has fled India and no amount of persuasion is going to make him come back. Especially considering how much money he owes Indian banks, we need an excuse to get him to return. This is as good as it gets. An international event dogged by controversies will see hundreds of international guests and most importantly, will provide him a chance to flaunt the good life. If we know Mallya, he will take the bait.
Ever since he secured bail a week ago, Kanhaiya Kumar has been everywhere. And let’s face it, given how politicised the World Culture Festival already is, there is no way he will not show up, and make a rousing speech. Might as well make it appear like like he was actually meant to be there.
The YRF scion has made no public appearances and has been photographed around once. In total. There could be no bigger coup for Art of Living than to get the reclusive Chopra to come out of his self-imposed exile and attend their event. To tempt him into attending, we should dangle the possibility of hanging out with Kim Jong-Un at the event and the chance of exchanging some notes on being a successful recluse.
With inputs from AP