(A look at the current political scenario with tongue firmly in cheek)
Recent events in Maharashtra, Haryana, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Karnataka have shown India doesn’t need elections any more. The intended purpose of elections was to give voters the power to choose the government of their choice. But, since this power now vests completely in stooges who show ‘Hoshiyari’ typical of ‘Bhagats’ (Bhakts) and nimble horse traders, it is incumbent upon us to consider alternate options that could be simpler, easier, transparent, and—this is the key—more profitable to voters in every way.
Here are a few suggestions:
It’s all a game of numbers, right? In the end, the ones who score the maximum number of MLAs get to win the Indian Political League. So, why not revamp the entire process, and make it similar to the cricket IPL.
Start by creating a pool of people for sale, set a reserve price for them and open the auction window. Allow each franchise—Shah Sultans, Sena Sainiks, Yeddyurappa Yahoos, Perfidious Pawars, Rahul Romeos, for example—to bid for them at a televised auction preceded by Rajesh Khanna’s dancing to his famous song, Paisa fenko, tamasha dekho (throw money, watch the drama). You’d say, but Rajesh Khanna is dead. But, so is democracy, darlings!
There would be a few problems, initially, with the auction-system of governance, which, by the way, Hindutva-wadis can decades later hail as our biggest contribution to the world after Narendra Modi.
One, unlike in cricket where players come up through the domestic ranks and from foreign teams, how do you identify a pool of saleable horses? In short, how do you put together an inventory?
Setting up an inventory is a cinch. In every constituency, allow people willing to become leaders to arrange support through whatever means they can — money, threats, blackmail or through the simple expedient of grovelling at our feet. In short, beg, borrow or steal; even forge letters of support with signatures taken on the pretext of attending a seminar on weight loss or erectile dysfunction.
But, since democracy is money by the people, for the people, of the people (that currently ends up in the pockets of politicians), the best option would be to allow candidates to buy support, pay for every vote. It may be an ignoble idea, but it’s a win-win deal, worthy of a Noble in Economics.
How? Well, the added advantage of this strategy, apart from ensuring 100 per cent participation, is that it will put money in the pockets of people in an era of declining GDP and diminishing jobs (Nirmala Sitharaman, please note). Even Rahul Gandhi won’t mind, since this is the closest India can come to Nyay — minimum guaranteed income — without calling it Pappunomics.
For clarity’s sake, let’s call this Commission Election. This is, of course, not to be confused with a similar-sounding venerable institution that won’t be half as effective as this idea.
Criteria? Hmm. Not everyone should, of course, be allowed to participate in this sale. To ensure fair play, participation is to be limited to only those candidates who are bonafide crooks (or victims of malafide tricks of rivals) being probed by top agencies—the Enforcement Directorate, CBI or the Income Tax department. Flung open the jails, announce general amnesty, let the putrid among the proletariat unite.
With every candidate having a history of corruption, alleged or genuine, they would be open to the same kind of saam (diplomacy), daam (inducement), danda (punishment) and bhed (blackmail). After all, why should the Chautalas and Ajit Pawar’s start with a clear advantage over the clean ones!
The ruling party, you’d rightly argue, would always have the advantage of having more money, and, thus buying the maximum legislators. But, some bank checks and account balances can be put in place to ensure level-buying field.
This is how it would work. Allow every party to spend only a certain amount of money across the country, say 10,000 crore, and once it has spent this quota, bar it from buying more governments. This way every party can decide where it wants to spend its money on buying a government—the BJP, for instance, can choose if it prefers Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi, or Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Parties can also be allowed pre-poll finances, er, alliances to form governments on the condition that their money would be forfeited if they walk out of the alliance. In Maharashtra, for instance, Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena can pool in their resources to outbid the BJP. In Uttar Pradesh, similarly, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav can put together a Mahamoneybandhan to take on the BJP. This will ensure that governments last the full term.
You’d find many flaws with the system. But, hand on heart, could any alternative—even the option of having a Big Boss type contest, which is the next option on the list—be worse than the existing one?
Kaun Banega Big Boss
What we call politics would entertain like hell under any other name. Right? So, why not combine prime time and election of the prime leaders. Invite applications for law makers (for criteria refer the para on ED, CBI etc.) Herd them all in a resort in Rajasthan or a five-star hotel in Powai fitted with cameras. Let Salman Khan assign them different tasks—Big Boss, for instance, wants you to show the most effective ways of backstabbing and defecting—every week and let the voters rate their performance through Friday-night polling. In the end, the candidate with the best credentials—you know what I mean– for being a legislator gets our nod.
There are plenty of other options, in case these don’t work. Voters, for instance, can organise mass medieval-era swayamwars, where they choose leaders, who, in turn, choose their favourite parties, who, in turn put the garland around the neck of the most eligible candidate for PM, CM etc. Or, if we are ready for some real action, we can always ask the guys to fight it out in Haldighati, or, Arjun Kapoor would agree, at Panipat. In the long run, as John Milton Keynes said, we are all anyway going to die.
WTFarce, you’d say. But, better than waking up to headlines like WTFadnavis. No?