Sep 24, 2023
Sep 24, 2023
Apart from electing the party that will govern the country for the next five years, the 2014 election campaign has provided for the voters an opportunity to have some fun at the cost of those seeking to be our future rulers. The first and foremost of these is the chance to mint slogans more to have fun rather than win voters and influence public at large.
Look at the way Sonia Gandhi rushed to the rescue of her cornered son. In any case, the poor fellow wasn’t meant for the rough and tumble of politics nor for the cut and thrust of electoral debate. He had looked forward to a quiet anointment to the prime ministerial throne. But no. Let me explain.
Someone had coined for him the Congress catch-phrase Main Nahin, Hum. When it didn’t seem to be cutting any ice with the voters, that irreverent BJP leader Arun Jaitley took potshots at it: change it to Main Nahin, Mom. Isn’t that a gem? At this stage, mom rushed to join the battle for her besieged darling son.
However, what I enjoyed the most was the Congress President’s paid three minute video advertisement released to Hindi TV news channels. She read out the message: the choice for voters is between Congress “ideology and vision for a healthy and free democracy” and BJP’s vision that “will drive us to the ruination of our Bharatiyata, our Hindustaniyat”. How deeply perceptive coming from one who doesn’t care a fig for Bharat or Hindustan! What was amusing was the way she pronounced our Bharatiyata, our Hindustaniyat. How artificial did she sound like Katrina Kaif speaking Hindi dialogue when she entered Bollywood. I bet my shirt she would have spent hours rehearsing to pronounce the words Bharatiyata and Hindustaniyat. For all you know I may be wrong. A very similar voice dubbed it.
In 1582, after suitably refining the Julian calendar then in use, the reigning Pope introduced the now internationally accepted Gregorian calendar, which is also referred to as the Western calendar or the Christian calendar. This is the calendar that is followed by United Nations and the Universal Postal Union.
One major reform in the new calendar was that it modified the Julian calendar’s scheme of leap years: every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.
Behnji Mayawati is not happy with what the world has accepted for nearly four and an a half centuries. She wants it to be substituted by Bahujan Samaj Calendar in which the year starts on B R Ambedkar’s birthday. (Don’t you know nothing in the world happened till then?)
And her new calendar was launched last week. It has been drawn up by Dr Ramvilas Bharti, who teaches in Uttar Pradesh. It is distinct from the Gregorian or the Christian calendar, the Saka or the Hindu calendar and also the Islamic calendar.
“The Brahmin culture and rituals are synonymous with Indian culture. But culture of the bahujan samaj, our lifestyle is different,” we’re told. “So, it’s time we have our own calendar,” said Bharti. His contention is that Lord Buddha and Babasaheb Ambedkar have been ignored in old calendars. His new calendar is based on Buddhabda, starting with the birth of the Buddha. The first day of the year begins on April 14, Ambedkar's birthday.
Every month has been divided into two 15-day halves and each is named after a stalwart of the Bahujan samaj. Bharti urged community members to make the new calendar a part of their lives.
“In the bahujan samaj,” we’re told, “no day is considered shubh (auspicious) or ashubh (inauspicious). Our weddings are held on any day of the year. So, the calendar doesn’t include such information. It does mention our festivals like Buddha Jayanti, Ambedkar Jayanti,” said Bharti.
Just wait, dear readers, till the reins of power are in Behnji’s hands not just to turn a new leaf but a new system of enumerating everything — your date of birth and the day of the year when you came to the world redesigned by none other than the Bahujan Samaj.
Elections in our country all said; mean spending big to reap bigger returns. This is what we see around despite repeated poll panel efforts to curb candidate expenses. The EC rule book is clear. Each candidate is entitled to spend a maximum of Rs 70 lakh and it is mandatory for the nominee to file daily expenses.
You indeed would be most naïve person in the world — next of course to me — to believe that this is what any candidate does. Contestants in the electoral fray know how to cook the book.
Politicians begin spending much before the day their names surface as a potential candidate. Many candidates commission image consultants to get their projection right and build a “win-ability” perception, which often means a facial surgery to look youthfully fresh. Hair transplant is one of the favorite tricks of trade.
After the contestant bags a ticket, officially his election expenses start the day he files nomination. The EC regulations stipulate that candidates open separate accounts only for their poll expense.
For LS polls, a general category candidate has to pay Rs 25,000 as security deposit. The meter starts ticking thereafter. Candidates fix heads under which they need to spend. Typically, these include daily campaign expenditure, amount spent on banners, and publicity material and, most crucially, booth management on polling day. Preparing for the Election Day is like the preparations of your daughter’s marriage. Every item in the so-called preplanned budget goes awry.
A Tamil Nadu politician is on record about what the ground reality is. This is what he said: “By conservative estimates, a minimum of Rs 2.5 crore is a must to contest. On average there are 1,300 booths per constituency. I pay at least Rs 15,000 per booth (each booth as four agents) to ensure it’s well covered and my men are everywhere ensuring there’s no rigging — that alone works out to about Rs 2 crore. Over and above that, printing of pamphlets, flex boards cost roughly Rs 20 lakh. Fuel expenses and vehicle rentals notch up another Rs 20 lakh, ad campaigns an additional Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.”
Booth management is, supposedly, one of the biggest headaches and requires a large financial outlay. And this expense can’t be shown in the accounts that are forwarded to EC else the prescribed spending limits would be grossly breached. So, it has to be adjusted or dressed up.
Everyone knows that pressure groups, community leaders, headmen and anybody who can influence voters have to be looked after. And you know it costs money. These payouts could range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 crore, depending on the person’s ability to swing voters. The question is how to adjust these within the prescribed limits.
Isn’t it time we shed this blatant hypocrisy and face facts. Let the high and mighty of the Election Commission sit down with heads of political parties and evolve a solution that no longer hoodwinks gullible souls like you and me
Vadodara hogged the limelight when Narendra Modi chose this town for the LS polls. Who could then foresee the shadowboxing that has gripped public attention there? Another Narendra Modi has also thrown his hat in the ring.
Doesn’t the presence of two Narendrabhais in the arena become trifle confusing. (Or, is amusing the word?) The third candidate in the fray is the Congress candidate Madhusudan Mistry. But the fact that Mistry’s wife and son figure on the last page of the “other” Modi’s affidavit only adds to the merry confusion.
Another coincidence. Both Narendrabhais are from Ahmedabad. The only difference is the middle names. While Damodardas is the name of the well-known BJP’s Narendra Modi, Babulal is the middle name of his namesake.
Election managers of the BJP, I hear, went through the independent Modi’s affidavit with a fine toothcomb. I learn there’s also some confusion about the name of the wife and son in Narendra Babulal Modi’s affidavit. Let the returning officer settle these details. It is being whispered that it is one of those cases which in the pre-computer age used to be referred to typographical errors.
Aren’t you grateful that to avoid confusions of this sort the Election Commission introduced separate symbols for each candidate that makes it fool-proof for illiterates like me to choose the candidate of their choice?
A dear friend of mine — a devout adherent of the Congress Party — couldn’t resist the urge to serve the nation. He consulted his party colleagues how he should proceed. He was advised to go to number 10. The do-gooder all his life was trifle confused. What is this 10?
“You, dunce 10 is the shorthand of No 10 Janpath, the official residence of the life president of our great Party.”
Thus enlightened he sounded his contacts at No 10.
“Not here. You better go to No 12 where these matters are decided.”
Again confused, he sought clarification.
“You should know these elementary things. 12 in our Party stands for 12, Tughlak Lane, the residence of heir-apparent. It’s he who decides these matters.”
Again he tried to find the right person to meet Rahul Gandhi.
He was snubbed once again. “You’re barking at the wrong tree. If you’re really serious, try No. 23”
“Don’t talk in puzzles. Where on earth is that?” he angrily snapped .
“O that is 23 Willingdon Crescent. And the person to meet is Ahmed Patel.”
All this so disgusted my friend that he gave up what he told me was a wild goose chase.
The year was 2009. The night before the Presidential election, Mitt Romney was very confident and told his wife Ann... “This time tomorrow night, you'll be sleeping with the President of the United States”.
After Mitt’s concession speech, they head to bed. Ann was getting undressed when she asked, “sooooo....how does this work? Is Barack coming over here or am I supposed to go over there?”
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