Lindsay Pereira: Milking the cash cow of politics
Standing for elections is no longer about who is qualified for the job but about finding the money and the right public relations campaign
I may have to stand for elections soon, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am not doing anything of importance at the moment, which makes me a perfect fit for Mantralaya, where not doing anything of importance has been polished into a fine art over decades. Secondly, I want to impress relatives from out of town, and can’t think of a better way to do it than to plaster the city with posters of me smiling or waving or walking purposefully while supporters I don’t know or care about wish me a happy birthday and a long life. The posters will be illegal, naturally, but that will only further demonstrate my power and show my relatives how I am above the law.
Most importantly, I need the money. Yes, corporate India can pay me a certain amount if I work hard for a few decades, but it doesn’t beat the crores I can siphon off within months if I come up with the right rural development scheme named after a departed leader. I can also pull this off a lot faster if I befriend people in the BMC in exchange for a few favours. And, if all goes well, I can rename a few streets after those relatives I mentioned earlier. No one in Bombay knows the people our streets are renamed after anyway, so I will be able to pull this off with impunity.
I intend to wear a cow mask while campaigning. All I need is a gimmick like that,
a few packets of milk and yoghurt for free distribution and I will have millions of deluded, sentimental fools eating out of my hand. Representation Pic/AFP
I will have to stand as an independent candidate, obviously. I’m literate and polite, and have no criminal cases registered against me, which automatically eliminates the possibility of political parties in Bombay accepting me as a member. I also believe in equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion or caste, which means the ruling party will refuse to welcome me with open arms. My kind of thinking is dangerous for them, because they exist primarily to divide instead of unite us. This amuses me, because it’s a policy they have always accused the British of using in order to rule our country, but that’s another story.
Choosing an election symbol as an independent candidate won’t be too hard. I have decided to ignore the current ones that make absolutely no sense, and opt for a symbol that suddenly means a lot to some people: The cow. In fact, I intend to wear a cow paper mask while campaigning, which isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds when you take into account the fact that schools in Rajasthan now have textbooks that include a chapter on Gau Mata, who ‘writes’ to the children, addressing them as ‘my sons and daughters’. All I need is a gimmick like that, a few packets of milk and yoghurt for free distribution and I will have millions of deluded, sentimental fools eating out of my hand. The best part is how I will be able to travel around the country without security guards, thanks to the fact that our wise central and state governments are more committed to making India safe for cows than for women and children.
I intend to raise money for this campaign by approaching the biggest corporate houses in Bombay, who allegedly support political parties generously for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I hope they won’t ask me for any favours in return if I ever get elected to public office, like discounts on land or a waiver of taxes or something.
I believe public land should only be given at throwaway prices to people who do genuinely important things to change lives, like retired film stars for instance.
Standing for elections in our great democracy is no longer about who is qualified to run for office. It is more to do with how much money one can raise and how much one can afford to hire the right spin doctors to make oneself out to be a saviour of sorts. This is why I intend to spend a significant amount of any money I raise (or illegally acquire in the event of my being elected) towards hiring the right public relations firms. It makes more sense to spend this money on them than on actual schemes for people, because Indians tend to prefer fiction over fact. Convincing them that I’m a great politician shouldn’t be too difficult with the right kind of publicity.
I think I have a chance because one should never underestimate the power of hearsay. History will show that we once elected a Prime Minister on the basis of a PR campaign.
When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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