Ramdas Athawale asks PM "mera number kab ayega"?

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By Pankaj Yadav

New Delhi, Apr 15 : True to his inimitable witty style, RPI (Republican Party of India) MP Ramdas Athawale today didn't miss an opportunity to leave the Lok Sabha in splits.

Barely had Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh ended introducing his new seven ministers, inducted on April 6, to the Lower House, when the MP from Maharashtra stood up and said: "Mera Number Kab Ayega" (When will my turn come).

Both UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh were seen blushing at the unexpected remark. Amid the din, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was heard saying in a lighter vein, "I appoint you as minister without portfolio."

Athawale, the sole MP representing his party in the Lok Sabha, had been supporting the Congress-led UPA government since the very beginning. He has been demanding a berth in the Union Cabinet right from the very beginning. In May 2004, when Manmohan Singh was busy in choosing his new cabinet, he was seen giving TV interviews, saying that he was confident of being included in the new cabinet.

An active parliamentarian though, Athawale's speeches are marked with witty one-liners hailing the UPA Government in general, and Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, in particular.

Such is Athawale's style of speaking, that at times Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee remonstrates with him to take his seat.

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