Political parties have started gearing up for the elections and I have been inundated with queries about how to go about getting selected as an election candidate. To simplify matters, I have designed an application form for aspiring contestants, along with guidelines on how to fill it up:
Religion: Please do not write ‘atheist’, no party will touch you if you do. Avoid writing ‘agnostic’, the party campaign manager may have no idea what it means and reject your application thinking you probably hold very eccentric views, like believing that people enter public life to serve the people.
Caste: Also specify your sub-caste and sub-sub-caste. If you come from a numerically insignificant caste, buy a fake certificate saying you belong to one of the popular castes. You could give your gotra too, the khap panchayats might vote for you.
Income: Don’t inadvertently write down the piffling income you disclose to the income-tax authorities. Remember, the higher your wealth, the higher your chances of being selected. Fill in white and black separately. Don’t forget your Swiss bank account.
Muscle-power: Indicate here how many men you can command for intimidating/terrorising rival candidates and for ensuring attendance at rallies and speeches. Elaborate on your leadership qualities as head of a gang. Flaunt your criminal record, if you have one. Some desperate folks have been known to manufacture fake criminal records, in the hope of being chosen as a candidate.
Age: The older the better. Being above 80 greatly increases your chances. If you’re below 60 get a new birth certificate. Senility is not an issue.
Fitness: Once elected, you will be called upon to rush to the well of the house, exert your lung power, fight the speaker and opposition members and on festive occasions throw chairs and benches. Do please go for a daily walk — it will help you stage walk-outs in style.
Relatives: Mention relatives who are political bigwigs and big shots. Don’t forget the nephew-in-law who’s an underworld don. On no account mention the niece doing social work among the tribals of Chhattisgarh — that could make you a Maoist.
Relations with moneybags: Include here your big business, real estate and stockbroker cronies as proof of your ability to raise those all-important party funds. Or at least pretend the local hoarder or money lender is your pal.
Ideology: Mention here the name of the leader of the party on whose ticket you are contesting. For example, if you plan to be a Trinamool or AIADMK candidate, put down “Mamataism” or “Jayalalithaism” respectively as your ideology. “Gandhism” should work with the Congress, but some might think you might be a follower of the Mahatma instead of Sonia, which would completely spoil your chances. If you’re going with the BJP, play safe and put down “RSS-ist”.
Morals: Insert the word ‘flexible’ here.
Any other qualifications: Highlight your proficiency in hypocrisy, venality, kow-towing, prevarication and in spewing hot air.
If you are not selected, don’t be dejected, you could become a high-up back-room boy or a hanger-on with connections. But by far the best way you can serve the country is by emigrating.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. Views expressed by the author are personal.