Lies, damn lies, and elections

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of resorting to funding through illegal means…who has accused the BJP of irresponsible behaviour by taking credit for events they had nothing to do with, like reduction in fuel prices…who has accused the AAP of behaving irresponsibly while in government…who has accused Congress of failing to protect the honour and dignity of women when in power…who has accused BJP of inadequate political strength in the state as they had to parachute a Chief Ministerial (CM) candidate from outside the party…who has accused AAP of diversionary tactics as they have no substance…who has accused BJP that black money has not come back despite it being a national election promise made by them last year…who has accused AAP and the entire sub-caste to which the CM candidate belongs as being anarchists…who has accused BJP of unfairly tarnishing the image of a peacable and industrious community…who has accused AAP of making false promises and misleading people…who has accused BJP of tampering with voting machines that will be used in the elections…who has accused Congress of mismanagement of local affairs in their long reign…who has accused the BJP leader, also the country’s Prime Minister, of wearing expensive foreign clothes made in UK despite their “Make in India” call to the nation and the world…who has accused them right back of wearing expensive foreign clothes themselves and, to add insult to injury, expensive shoes as well…who has accused BJP of treating the Northeastern people as immigrants and, further, not being able to distinguish between Nagaland and Mizoram…who has accused AAP of trying to stay in the limelight through dubious means, and misleading and being negative as per old habit…who has accused BJP’s CM candidate of sourcing funds from abroad for her NGO without revealing the source…who has accused Congress of taking the people for granted during their years in power…who has accused BJP of portraying Mahapurush (Great Man) Anna Hazare as deceased…who has accused AAP of immaturity by politicising a routine political insult and failing to understand the metaphor…who has accused BJP of being in cahoots with industrialists, particularly the ones whose surname end with “ni”…who has accused Congress of being anti-development…who has accused AAP of forming a united front with BJP to wipe out their ideology…who has accused BJP of hiding the reasons why their CM candidate was removed as DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of Mizoram, Goa and Chandigarh…who has accused AAP of wasting public money by not joining forces without pre-conditions with BJP after the last elections leading to re-elections within a year…who has accused BJP of being inconsistent and issuing an advertisement that does not mock AAP…who has accused independent survey agencies being motivated by narrow commercial interests, especially if their results predict a loss for BJP…

Phew! I don’t know if this will qualify as the longest sentence written. It is certainly the longest written by me. Politics does this to you. Enables you to overcome your self-defined limits and reach beyond. Boldly go where you have not been before.

I hope by now you are pretty clear what each party stands for and what their strengths are.

At any rate, I am sure we are all clear what the other parties stand for and what their weaknesses are.

Delhi state elections are scheduled for the 7th. Results will be declared on the 10th. Campaigning gets over on the 5th (today). I will need something strong tomorrow to replace this excitement.

Get the picture?

My teenage son, who has just been through with the Student Body elections in his school, and watching news channels on TV with me cover the elections , seems to have an unasked question on his lips, “But why does our school tell us that we cannot malign other candidates?”

Groundhog Day

With the raucous general elections finally over and a new government, armed with an overall majority, installed at the Centre, the largest democracy in the world can now go back to the business of living and look forward expectantly to a watershed period of untrammelled all-round development and progress.

While leaders and economists understand terms like “Inflation”, “Recession”, “GDP”, “economy is looking up”, “in real terms”, etc., which they use with great effect to convince the common man that they are doing a good job, what can the common man really look forward to in this eagerly awaited period? We hazard a guess…

The common man can look forward to a period during which stock prices will go up on some days. Not only will they go up on some days they will also come down on some other days. He can expect the value of the Rupee to go up on certain days during this period. He can also look forward to the value of the Rupee going down on certain other days. And, believe it or not, he can also look forward to prices of daily-use commodities going up on some days and down on others. In an even more unprecedented development arising out of the change of government, he can expect the price of gold to go up on some days and down on others. And, in case you thought it could get no better, he can even expect oil prices to go up on some days and down on others. It never rains, does it? It always pours.

In this period, he can look forward to unknown socialites occupying centrefold (oops centrestage) in newspapers and magazines of national importance, including social media, needlessly occupied by politics and existentialist debates for the last few months, with their frequent marriages, break-ups, getting back together for the sake of children, wardrobe malfunctions, bare-all pictures to support a charitable cause, and other patriotic acts that the rest of the country has been deprived of. He can also look forward to people in show-business beginning a new cycle of breaking-up, patching-up, breaking-up, patching-up, breaking-up…with this cyclical occurrence speeding-up just before major releases. From the pairing of forty plus heroes with twenty plus heroines, he can look forward to Bollywood progressing to the pairing of fifty plus heroes with teenage heroines, as most heroes with the surname of Khan get into the fifties, and most heroines in their twenties, with any surname, prepare for a life in supporting roles as they get into their thirties.

As always, he can expect big business, ably supported by the government, to systematically develop the nation by uprooting trees, drying-up or polluting water sources and exponentially increasing demand for energy by building bigger SUVs and structures of glass and concrete, while competing for “Green” awards. He can look forward to big business to expect him to be beholden to them for being developed in a manner that he can be the proud owner of all the problems of the western world at such a rapid pace, without any of the benefits. More and more people can look forward to reaping the benefits of development by foregoing education and hard-work to build a livelihood and taking-up jobs as Customer Service agents in Contact Centres and Shelf-stackers in Supermarkets.

Sports fans can expect to celebrate the bright prospects of national teams and leading players prior to all major event. Sports fans can also look forward to lamenting the poor performance of national teams and leading players immediately after the major events, blaming it on poor preparation, lack of dedication, official apathy, inadequate infrastructure and lack of a sporting culture. We know that in order to change culture at the grassroots level for all sports, the government, alongwith the Board of Control for one still-popular sport, had gotten business houses to invite top international stars, at astronomical salaries, to play for teams with grassroot-culture changing names like Devils, Riders and Kings. As this key initiative has had the desired effect, of making no difference to performance in any sport, sports fans can look forward to an expansion of the franchise. Sports administrators can be expected to make firm, realistic commitments to change the sad state of affairs overnight and lead the nation to victory at future events, like winning Wimbledon in 2093, World Cup Football in 2116 and Olympics in 2240. In the shorter term, they will make a pledge to climb to 137 in global football rankings. What more can sports fans ask for?

He can expect the new government to blame all man-made problems, like earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis, on the last government. The remnants of the last government can be expected to contend that all man-made problems like earthquakes, tsunamis and cyclones are due to the divisive and pro-rich policies of the new government. To usher in an era of unprecedented economic prosperity promised before the elections, the common man can look forward to the new government unfurling a slew of measures that will enable people to undergo extreme economic depravation and hardship in order to usher in an era of unprecedented economic prosperity just before the next elections. He can expect an expansion of the nation’s sphere of influence in the region with the already announced “Look East” policy unravelled by the new government. At a suitable time, he can expect an expansion of the policy itself to “Sometimes Look East, Sometimes West, Sometimes North and Sometimes South”.

He can expect leaders in India and China to vow to settle the boundary and water-sharing disputes through dialogue and mutual respect for each other’s views. After dialogue breaks down when one party is not able to accept and respect the other’s view, he can expect them to accuse each other of vitiating the process and move armoured columns closer to the claimed boundary. He can also expect India and Pakistan, in a bid to deflect attention from the internecine disputes plaguing the two nations, to vow to increase cross-border trade. Since trains and buses have already been started and stopped by previous governments, he can expect a camel-cart route between the two nations to be opened up that can be stopped soon after. After a terror strike in India, he can expect the cross-border trade to come to a standstill as Pakistan will blame India for the almost daily terror attacks taking place in most of its major cities. He can also expect India and Pakistan to attempt to settle the Kashmir issue through dialogue and acceptance of each other’s non-negotiable points of view.

He can look forward to the opposition trashing all new proposals of the government. He can also expect the government to ignore all trashings of the Opposition with perfect nonchalance.

He can expect authorities to discover reliable information of a major strike on the eve of Independence Day and Republic Day by extremist elements, leading to an unprecedented security clampdown in major cities.

He can expect economists to warn of a looming recession. He can also expect other economists to warn of looming inflation. What’s more, he can expect yet other economists to warn of a stagflation. And it doesn’t end here. He can expect yet other economists to invent another term that he will not be able to understand and figure out whether he is in a better position or worse.

He can expect a concerted efforts to be made towards abuse of women, a national pastime that has unfortunately lagged during the elections, as most elements normally actively involved in this activity have been involved in either standing for elections or supporting those standing for elections. Surprised by the increasing reports of abuse of women, he can expect the government to renew its efforts for emancipation of women. After launching pink autos, he can expect the government to launch pink taxis. After a women’s bank staffed by men and women and with customers as men and women, he can expect a women’s call centre to be launched staffed by men and women and serving men and women.

A revolution is about to be unleashed. With bated breath we wait.

He can expect some people, who, with their hard-work, skill and commitment, had been able to achieve success in their own defined ways, during the dark days gone by, with their hard-work, skill and commitment, to achieve success in their own defined ways, thanks to the climate ushered in by the new government. Strangely, he can also expect some people, who, with their lack of hard-work, skill and commitment, and reliance on short-cuts, had not been able to achieve any measure of success as defined by others for them, with their lack of hard-work, skill and commitment, and reliance on short-cuts, to not achieve any measure of success as defined by others for them, despite the climate ushered in by the new government.

Election aftermath

In the aftermath of the BJP’s absolute majority in the recently concluded Lok Sabha (Lower House) elections, the political scenario in the country is fast unravelling.

“We failed to gauge public mood”, the Congress Party President profoundly revealed at the recently concluded joint meeting of Members of Parliament (MPs) of the party from both houses of Parliament. Members, initially stunned by this revelation, later thanked her for the insightful analysis of the election debacle. Left to themselves, they would never have guessed, they sheepishly thought to themselves.

Thanking the group for their misguided faith in the party, she said, “The Congress has lost this time. You all know this is not the first time. With your support and my leadership, God willing, we will lose many more times. We have earlier come back after losses. I assure you no such debacle will happen this time. No more the pressure of performance. No more the burden of anti-incumbency going into an election”,  she said to thunderous applause. A scuffle broke out as soon as she said “we have sat together and fought together in the past, there is no reason why we cannot do it again”, amongst loyal members keen to follow orders, or even faint hints of anything that could be construed as an order, without taxing their grey cells. It was impossible to be unmoved at such a spontaneous show of loyalty. Only a dyed-in-the-wool cynic would write off this party in future elections.

Acknowledging the mistakes made by her as President, the group unanimously voted to retain her in the position. This was, however, not done on a whim. It was done based on a process enshrined in the Constitution of the party and honed over a hundred years of repeated use. They found Singhs. They found Khans. They found Scindias. They found Pawars. They found Chidambarams. They found Deoras. They found Azads. But, amongst the many well-known surnames of people attending the meeting, there could not be found a person with the surname of either Gandhi or Nehru. The group really had no choice. Upholding the highest traditions of democracy and reflecting the trust placed in the capability of a population of 1.2 billion by the grand old party of Indian politics, they selected one of the only two names available with either of those surnames.

Meanwhile, in a gesture of support, the BJP working committee has come out with a strongly worded statement appreciating the Congress party leadership for their leadership and have thanked them for their (the BJP’s) success. They have even made a plea to them to not make leadership changes in a hurry. At least not until they have had a chance to win another general elections. Such bonhomie amongst parties at different ends of the political spectrum has rarely been seen.

A young satrap who questioned the role of the advisors to the leadership after the debacle, has come under fire from party seniors. Explaining his remarks he said that his comments were “out of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance and a sincere desire to bounce back”.

Several other party members are understood to have issued thinly veiled threats, including death-threats, to the party leadership “out of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance and a sincere desire to bounce back”. Some participants have stated that the voice of the former Prime Minister was also heard on the occasion. Repeated attempts at replaying the recording in an effort to identify the voice have yielded no results. It appears that no-one in the party was in a position to identify his voice, having not heard it in the last ten years.

The Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M), from their ideological ivory tower protected by hardbound copies of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital, have blamed voters for not knowing what is good for them.

A founder-member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the party that rocked the political firmament with their stellar show on debut in the less-than-a-year-old Delhi state elections, has quit the party citing differences over lack of internal democracy. This was done after she lost in the recent Lok Sabha elections from a seat that was, apparently, not of her choice. Even under such trying circumstances, displaying maturity far beyond the brief existence of the party, she said that if offered a position of responsibility, she might reconsider her decision.

The PM designate had caused consternation amongst his advisors by insisting on inviting heads of government from neighbouring countries for the swearing-in ceremony. Concerned that this could be a case of withdrawal symptoms, with elections over and no-one to swear at, advisors had sought explain to him the difference between swearing-in and swearing-at. They were successful in their efforts, it seems, as the swearing-in ceremony happened yesterday without any untoward incident.

Exchanging pleasantries

“People will teach Congress, Aam Aadmi Party a lesson” said Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP candidate from New Delhi.

…which is what I base my objective assessment of victory on, apart, of course, from voodoo and black magic.

“Modi misleading people of Delhi” alleges AAP.

…that used to be our sole prerogative only a few months back.

“I’m in the fray only after proving my worth”, says Pravesh Verma, son of Sahib Singh Verma, fromer BJP CM of Delhi.

…including resisting all attempts to interact with the rank and file and encouraging cronyism.

Sonia accuses the opposition of dividing the nation.

…that her party could not despite two successive attempts.

“BJP giving up values for temporary gains”, says Jaswant Singh, co-founder of BJP. “It is putting petty whims of individuals above the greater good of people”.

…especially greater good of people like me.

“Narendra Modi a divisive leader”, said Mayawati

…since I just learnt this new word yesterday.

“Hooda, Modi, working for Ambani”, screams Kejriwal

…when will my turn come?

“We tamed inflation” Chidambaram

…so what if Rupee depreciated, Reserves fell, Stocks plummeted and we had to implement control measures on import of Gold.

Election season is here. If, like Rip Van Winkle, you had just woken from a deep sleep, you would just need to pick-up today’s newspaper to realise what the excitement is all about. All you would need to do is add the lines in italics above, to complete the sentences only half-reported by the media.

How lucky can one get? Having politicians of all hues outdoing themselves in pulling all others down with their selfless desire to win the election and serve the people. Their eagerness to serve is touching.

My blogging friend List of X said in one of his recent posts, “10 Reaction To Supreme Court Decision on Campaign Finance“, “I am absolutely, positively sure that whenever a wealthy job creator gives a few million dollars to a Republican candidate, he does so because he genuinely has my best interests in mind”.

But List of X is American. India is no America. We don’t let the rich ruin the country. In India we only permit politicians to ruin the country. Occasionally in cahoots with the rich.

To make his quote relevant to the Indian context, I will hasten to add, “I am absolutely, positively sure that whenever a candidate gives an assurance that he has no interest in power or money, and is contesting the election only for the betterment of the people of the country, he does so because he genuinely has the betterment of the people of the country in mind.”

Won’t you agree?

Today, 10th of April, is when the mind-numbing exercise that is the Indian general elections, where there are over 800 million registered voters, yes over 800 million, will begin in a phased manner.

If you are a registered voter, make your vote count. Our system may not be perfect, but is certainly better than many others. The many others where people do not have a choice.