Monday, March 30, 2009

Durable Election Time

Election: noun: A wonderful season playing right now in India

The TV channels have the countdown clocks prominently displayed. Leaders zig-zag the country addressing rallies and making promises. And of course, spend lots of time cobbling up alliances that they call durable. defines durable as 'lasting'. Before we know it, the alliance hits a 'bumpy patch'. There are 'differences' over seat adjustment. Soon they become 'irreconcilable'. Finally, the alliance 'breaks down'. And a 'New Front' is in the making. I guess durability in these days refers to that lovely pristine medium where the alliance lasts only until the differences cannot be managed???? "Of course", say the spinmeisters, when they come back to the television to justify why the alliance broke down & adding "we have no problems going it alone".

The shifting meaning of words over time is very confusing to blokes like me whose grammar is still based on Wren & Martin written decades ago and whose knowledge of varied English words, including 'durable', solely came about by playing book cricket for hours with the Oxford Dictionary. We scratch our heads. And wonder how it all adds up. We are even OK with 2+2=5. But the value of the permutations and justifications and the calculations that we are presented every day is as volatile as the BSE Sensex has been for the past 6 months.

Mind you, not a single vote has yet been cast. And it is a wonderful season.

We hear these terms in various fora. Pre-poll alliances; No-alliances-but-seat-adjustments; No-alliances-or-seat-adjustments-but-we-will-not-put-up-our-candidates-against-them; No-alliances-or-seat-adjustments-and-we-will-put-up-our-candidates-against-them; I-did-not-get-a-ticket-and-I-will-contest-elections-as-a-rebel-candidate; He-did-not-get-a-ticket-and-he-will-contest-elections-as-a-rebel-candidate-but-our-candidate-will-thrash-him.

Did I say that not a single vote has been cast? The wonderful season is in full bloom.

TV channels ask "Is it important for a party to project a candidate for PM?", "While the party has a candidate for PM, is he actually a cover for moving someone else after the elections?", "How much leverage will the constituents of the Third Front have in the choice of the PM?", "Is the Era of the national parties dead?". Various talking heads give their perspective. We try to understand the logic - and when we can't, we try to fit logic into their words. When even that fails, we switch channels. Only to see a new talking head.

Not one vote cast yet. It is a great season.

Elections will begin. Different states go to polls in different phases across several weeks. Exit polls in each phase will analyze trends. We will look at gizmos on TVs that slice the electorate & dice it into meaningful chunks. We all will look forward to that magic number called 'Majority'. Talking heads will multiply. Politicians will coyly indicate that 'Exit polls are meaningless' and 'we believe our internal numbers are stronger than what you are showing'. Business folks & economists will now say that the long-term story of India is intact and that regardless of the electoral results, India will clock a 6% growth rate for another 20 years. The stock market will look at all of this. And will go up and go down. Experienced analysts will say that such volatility is to be expected in times like these.

Votes have been cast. The season remains lovely.

The counting of votes will begin. Since all voting machines are electronic in India, the results will be out in a few hours. No surprise - we will not have a single party majority. Talking heads will increase exponentially. Meanwhile, an independent MP who no one ever knew before will suddenly find himself feted. "I am evaluating all options", he will say. "When will you decide?", the reporters will ask with bated breath. His enigmatic reply - "In due course". The caption "IN DUE COURSE" will be carried on all channels under the banner "BREAKING NEWS".

An alliance will soon be cobbled. The architects of this alliance will coo that this is indeed the Durable One. "Until differences persist?" we ask. "What differences? The media is playing it all up", they will say.

Suddenly, it will all be over. The anticipation of result. The thrill of crowning a victor. The commiseration we extend to the loser. Parliament will convene. The Prime Minister & the cabinet will be sworn in. And we will get on with our lives while secretly waiting another 5 years for more such exciting times.

What will I do till then? Didn't you know? The new edition of the Oxford Dictionary is out. In the interest of understanding 'durability', it is time to play book cricket.

1 comment:

mahesh said...

Elections have become mere ritual in India. This indeed the best satirical view of Indian polity and election process by person who is strongly believe in democratic process of this great country.