"Making drivers and bakers directors of companies is a fine example of inclusive growth," he asserted. "Besides," he said, "drivers are in an ideal position to become company directors. Not only can they steer the company in the right direction, but Gadkariji could also hold meetings with them while in the car, thus saving precious time."
Acknowledging the validity of that line of thought, I expressed my doubts about the astrologer. "Oh, that's blindingly obvious," said the so-called spokesman, "he was inducted into the board to predict the company's future, while his advice on vaastu was needed for our good fortune." He then whispered into my ear, "But after all these troubles it's quite clear he's useless and should be sacked immediately." "I believe," he confided, "he's a pseudo-secular astrologer."
Meanwhile, the revelations have raised expectations considerably among drivers, who are refusing to work unless they too are made directors of their boss's firms. "Earlier, I used to be content with a salary of Rs. 10,000 a month. But these days I insist on two directorships in addition to my salary," said a chauffeur smugly. "You see," he explained, "a big part of my duties consists in just sitting around. If I was a director I could then claim sitting fees, right?" Some say the drivers of rival politicians are spearheading the movement, demanding parity in directorships with Gadkari's chauffeur.
There are signs that the agitation is spreading. Cooks, maids, gardeners and dhobis have already started demanding directorships. "There are few people who can cook the books the way I can," boasted a cook. "Oh yeah?" I asked, "What's ROE?" "Ummm….Rotten Old Eggs?" she said, before sneaking off. "With my experience of sweeping, I'll have absolutely no problem in hiding the dirt in a balance sheet," said a housemaid. Both alleged they were being discriminated against because they were women. "Our being denied directorships is an egregious example of the glass ceiling," claimed the cook. Dhobis say they are being victimised because of their caste and have demanded reservations in directorships.
Conspiracy theorists say, however, the entire expose about Gadkari's driver being appointed director has been masterminded by a cabal of jealous left-leaning maids and dhobis. "Just ask any dhobi whether she wants the fiscal deficit to go up and she'll reply yes," complained a fiscal conservative bitterly. Housemaids have formed an association to fight for their right to directorships, calling it MAD (Maids As Directors). Unreliable reports say a guy called Vadra has welcomed these developments, dubbing it mango capitalism.
Not everybody is enthused by these events, though. The other day a careworn underworld Don walked dispiritedly into my office. "Business not doing well?" I commiserated. "Oh, business is fine," said the Don, taking a long pull from his hip flask, "It's just that nobody respects me any longer." He explained that what with mega scams worth thousands of crores popping up like frogs in the monsoon, nobody took any notice of his extortion racket any more. "I'm not even a director," he cried, wailing inconsolably.
Views expressed by the author are personal