The heady campaigner

  • Col Avnish Sharma (retd), Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Apr 21, 2014 08:38 IST

"Booze lifts your spirits, makes you happy, and free booze skyrockets you and makes you euphoric." A self-coined view based on personal experience and observation. While in the army, when confronted with the impossible, the dollar (popular acronym to the fauji special XXX rum) was a ticket to success while dealing with something concerning those from outside the armed forces.

It was and still is some sort of an enigma. I may not know my monthly quota of liquor from the CSD canteen but my friends desirous of their regular XXX do.

During elections this liquid gold is a huge appeasement tool. Cartons of popular brands are doled out to make the tippler voter's mind conducive to preferential voting.

In fact, the party starts with controlled servings and graduates to bottles or cartons during penultimate days to set a mechanical rhythm to press the desired button at the EVM.

One morning, while taking a walk at the green belt outside my house, I encountered an empty bottle of liquor. While disposing it of in the bin, I was amused to see the election symbol of a leading political party alongside and outshining the prominently etched brand logo of the whisky.

A novel but surely a professional piece of work by the provider to remind the consumer of his loyalty towards voting while drinking and later, since most of us have secondary uses of empty bottles.

Our maali, who I thought was a teetotaller, seemed out of sorts. My wife asked him his views on political leanings since he happened to stay in the neighbourhood of a high-profile contestant.

"Madam, I will vote for anybody but him." "Why so?" she enquired. "All the people who come from faraway areas are being doled out liquor. Since his staff takes us for granted we are not even being offered tea. Our ego is hurt," he replied with obvious disdain.

In an election coverage by a local TV channel, the reporter was questioning aam aadmis from lowly colonies, "Aajkal hamare pau barrah hai. Itni daaru to hum poore saal mein nahin peetey, jitni ek saptaah mein peetey hain (the amount of liquor that we consume in the election week, we don't have the entire year)."

The reporter asks point blank, "So, obviously you will vote for the candidate." "Sir, booze does lift up our spirits but also makes us think clearer as to which candidate or party deserves to come to power, thanks to the exposure provided by the media." That much for the power of this heady campaigner.

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