Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Unpromising Politics


If you have the stomach for it and tend not to throw up when confronted with all things revolting, it is always amusing to watch politicians in action when elections are around the corner. They step out wearing crisp ethnic wear, sporting bad dye/toupee jobs, palms folded together reverentially, flashing sincere fake smiles while waving from top open vehicles, trundling past giant hoardings of their photo-shopped selves and strategically placed loud - speakers promising the citizens that the candidate is ‘The One’.

These sterling individuals who repeatedly reiterate their unswerving commitment to making their constituencies an indubitable slice of heaven are usually accompanied by a motley crew of not – quite gentlemen togged out in ill – fitting traditional gear in assorted hues of white the supposed color of purity, flaunting sunglasses, gold jewelry and the odd recurved blade or two, which their attire doesn’t quite conceal. These bear an uncanny resemblance to ruffians in masala movies who serve as the muscle/fawning toadies of the villains who are mostly there to impress upon the masses that they better vote for their exalted leader or else...

Usually there is a lot of speechifying at rallies where the audience are lured in with promises of petty cash, booze and chicken biriyani. Most seeking to become elected or re-elected representatives of the people, for the people and by the people usually can’t speak worth a damn but clearly they have found a way around their limitations and managed to channel their inner Cicero meets Deepak Chopra with the right dosage of inebriant even if it does cause them to slur over their tall promises.

Speaking of promises, there are many of those made in rousing speeches delivered at volumes guaranteed to bust eardrums and via paid advertisements across social media. The impoverished, minorities and women are assured that their rights will be the top priority and not the rich men who actually run the country. Aspiring candidates swear on their lives that the evil that is the caste system will no longer deny people their due, religious rights of all will be upheld, and women need not worry endlessly about being gang – raped, murdered, harassed, or being denied opportunities for career advancement. Hell, even house – wives will receive a much deserved salary, they are told. Law and order will be maintained, there will be beautiful, fully – furnished houses for the poor with as many toilets built as temples/churches/mosques. Quality education will be free for all, development will proceed unhindered and soon, the entire country will look twice as pretty as Switzerland in Spring.

Of course, the oft frustrated Indian voter doesn’t buy any of it but they can’t look away either. Because despite the awfulness of it all, dirty politics makes for one riveting spectacle.

This article was originally published in The New Indian Express.

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