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Last Updated : May 17, 2019 10:38 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Loose Canon: What has this election been about?

Voters have been asked to take a stand on Rajiv Gandhi’s parties, Vidyasagar, radars, Nehru, time machines, Says’ Law, the Chola empire, chowkidars and prehistoric men

Manas Chakravarty @moneycontrolcom
Representative Image
Representative Image

This very long election is now almost over and we will soon know what the public thinks about the many important issues raised during the campaign. We are all agog to find out what stand the voters have taken on some of the most thought-provoking matters.

For instance, voters have to decide whether ex-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi did indeed party with friends and relatives, some of them Italian, on board the aircraft carrier INS Viraat  and if so, did he endanger national security or did he just save some money by having the party on the ship instead of in a hotel.

At first glance, the voters’ decision seems easy enough. Since there has never been even the remotest possibility that an ancestor of Narendra Modi entertained anybody on Indian Navy ships, the vote should go to the BJP, assuming the voter agrees that entertaining on Navy ships is a genetic trait passed down via male progeny. After all, it’s quite likely this sort of thing runs in families. But hold on a second----even Mayawati’s and Mamata’s ancestors have not been accused of partying on Navy ships. I am not so sure about Akhilesh though, his dad was defence minister in the 90s. It is also entirely possible that one of Stalin’s forefathers entertained some foreigner while serving on a ship during the Chola empire.

To be sure, there are all these pictures of Modiji on a ship with Akshay Kumar, who is supposedly a Canadian citizen, but that may merely have been an attempt to reinforce cordial Indo-Canadian relations. The fact remains, though, that the voter perturbed by Rajiv Gandhi’s alleged partying may well choose to vote for Mayawati or Mamata.

Talking of Mamata, the important thing for voters is what to make of the beheading of the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar statue. It is unlikely that anybody demolished the statue because he was against the great man’s policy of widow remarriage, although one can’t rule out the possibility of some henpecked guy who had married a shrewish widow taking his anger out on Vidyasagar’s statue. But it’s far more likely the goons thought the statue was of Rajiv Gandhi—in a dim light, seen from a certain angle, there is a distinct similarity. It’s unclear, though, which way people will vote on this.

Voters also have to weigh Amit Shah’s accusation that Mamata prevents people from chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Bengal. However, there is a simple explanation to this. Bongs are incapable of pronouncing ‘Jai’ because the language lacks the short ‘a’ sound. That is why they say ‘Joy Hind’ and ‘Joy Awmit Shah’ and ‘Joy Shree Ram’. Nobody is preventing them from saying ‘Jai’, they just can’t do it. In fact, in Bengal voters will not choose Mamata or Narendra, but either Mawmota or Nawrendro.

Voters have also to determine whether Nathuram Godse was a terrorist or an assassin or an extremist, after Kamal Haasan drew their attention to it. At some polling booths, long lines of voters studying the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology to decide this issue have been spotted. The matter has been further complicated by Pragya Thakur, herself accused of aiding a terrorist plot, saying Godse was a patriot and then apologising---this has left the dictionary users scratching their heads.

She has also posed a difficult question to voters: did anti-terrorist cop Hemant Karkare, so long thought to have been killed by terrorists, actually die because of her curses? Voters also have to make up their minds about her assertion that cow urine cured her cancer. The elections will tell us whether voters are pro or anti-cow urine. Needless to add, if they are anti-urine, they could be cursed. Taken together with Sakshi Maharaj’s cursing folk who don’t vote for him, it’s likely the combination of curses and the benefits of cow urine therapy would prove to be a potent weapon for these candidates. The problem for Pragyaji is that her opponent Digvijay Singh has Computer Baba in his corner. Voters have a choice between the Sadhvi and the Baba.

Moving from religion to science, the scientific question of whether radars work with cloud cover is another major issue voters have to grapple with, together with whether email and digital cameras existed in 1988. Those who say they didn’t haven’t considered the possibility of time travel, which would allow a person to get to the future, grab a gadget or two and return. There have been reports of voters watching ‘The Time Machine’ over and over to make up their minds on this important issue, apart from cogitating on WhatsApp forwards, of course.

In fact, a time machine would be very useful to voters for a lot of the issues in this election. For example, it would take such a machine a few minutes to travel back to 1954 and check whether Nehru did indeed suppress news about the Kumbh Mela stampede that year. But even if they went there, they would still have to decide whether an ancestor suppressing news of a Kumbh Mela disaster is worse than the suppression of a government report on unemployment.

This election has seen hardly any discussion about the economy. The only concern is that if everybody becomes a security guard, can the economy flourish by all of us charging fat fees from each other to guard each other? While some believe the excess supply of watchmen could drive down their wages, economists point out that, according to Say’s Law, the supply of chowkidars will create its own demand for chowkidars.

Finally, since much of this election has been about history and nationalism, I will have to say a word about my ex-colleague Tony Joseph’s book ‘Early Indians: The Story Of Our Ancestors And Where We Came From’, which says our forefathers were a bunch of Homo Sapiens who came from Africa ages ago. Some of us feel insulted by the idea that our first ancestors weren’t Aryans born in some cave here and these people are very agitated about the book. It is absolutely essential for our nation for voters to decide whether we came from Africa 65,000 years ago, or whether we are actually descended from ape-like proto-humans who lived here 100,000 years ago. That is probably, in a nutshell, what this election is all about.

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First Published on May 17, 2019 09:21 am
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