This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

This Our Democracy

It was a day already hot with promise.
Ram Kumar came out of the election office with his bunch of supporters. He stretched luxuriously before getting into his huge new Balero.
“Bhaiyya,” one of his sidekicks said, in appropriately servile tones, “you were right on time. You filed your nomination papers at the exact moment the astrologer said!”
Ram Kumar did not deign to reply. He got into the driver’s seat and drove off with a jerk. Never having been actually in possession of a driving licence, his steering control was as shaky as his gear changes, but no cop would ever dream of booking him. Even if he ran over and killed someone, any policeman who tried to take any action would find himself transferred so quickly to some backwater that he wouldn’t have time to pack his bags.
Ram Kumar stopped the SUV outside his palatial mansion. It was visible from far away, being the only large construction in a sea of hovels. Ram Kumar liked it this way. He liked to stand out on his terrace and gaze out at the slum around him and rejoice in his success. He looked up a moment at the red and blue party flag fluttering above the door before he went in.
“Any news?” he asked the cringing woman who was his wife. She had been pretty once, and had had spirit. When he had asked her to marry him she had refused. She had even dared say she was already married. In less than a week, she had married him; but of course that was after her hovel had been burnt down and her husband beaten so badly he had lost a leg and an eye. He had never dared file a police case, had never turned up again. He had more sense than that.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Harish is waiting for you.”
Harish got up when Ram Kumar entered. “They’ve lodged a new case against you,” he said.
“Great,” Ram Kumar said, grimly amused. “What is it this time?”
“Murder. You remember, that Kamlesh…”
“Oh yes, the one who tried to underbid me for the contract. Well, what difference does that make? Did Dadaji say anything?” “Dadaji” was the president of the party.   
“He told the press already that you’re innocent since the charges are not proved.”
”And they won’t be, of course,” said Ram Kumar. He looked directly at Harish for the first time. “If they have witnesses, you know what to do. Anything else?”
“Yes, that old fool Shailesh Singh is going about moaning that he had done so much development work for the constituency when he was elected, and that he’s represented this constituency for fifteen years, but this time Dadaji had to go and give you the nomination.”
“The old idiot.” Ram Kumar grinned. “These old fools don’t even know that people don’t vote for development. People don’t give a pill of goat’s dung for roads or schools or taps. All they care for is caste. Caste is everything. And I am the right caste. Also I have the muscle power to make people vote for me, whatever else they want. Any other thing?”
“Just personal curiosity, Bhaiyya. Why do you want to enter politics? It’s not as though you aren’t doing well enough already.”
Ram Kumar regarded Harish almost with affection. The boy was far too stupid to pose a threat, if he needed to ask that. “Look, my boy,” he said. “If I’m in politics, I can earn so much it makes my business look like petty change. Just the MLA development fund will give me enough in two years not to have to work ever again. Also, do you think any legal files will move against a minister? This won’t be an easy election for Dadaji to win. But he will win, with the support of those like me. So I can get myself made a minister, and that means I have even more money to play around with, and no supervision. Do you think Dadaji will dare take action against me if it means his government falls? He’ll be busy feathering his own nest anyway. So I get as much money as I want and immunity from criminal prosecution as well.” He patted the boy’s shoulder. “Understand?”
“But what if the party splits? What will happen then, Bhaiyya?”
Ram Kumar laughed aloud. “Oh, then it would be great!” he said. “Just imagine the amounts of money flowing in to buy each legislator. One good split would earn me more than an entire stint in the legislature otherwise! I might even engineer one myself. And just in case the split doesn’t actually go all the way, then…”
“Yes, then?”
“Then, my boy, I’ll score at least a good holiday out of it because all the legislators will, as always, be taken to some five star resort in Goa or Himachal Pradesh, isolated from the world, so no one can buy them and push a split all the way through.
“Yes,” Ram Kumar continued, “it’s the Great Indian Democracy, and we’re all for sale!”      

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