Political scientist: This Bihar election is extremely significant, not just for the state, but for all of India. The results will answer a number of crucial questions.
Me: About the need for development?
PS: Yes, the need for developing good statistics.
PS: Yup. We need to know which particular combination of castes works best in which constituency and reliable caste statistics are necessary. For example, will a strategy of combining the bulk of the 114 castes that form the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs), together with the 59 castes that make up the Moderately Backward community (MBCs) plus the three and a half Forward Castes (FCs) and including one seventh of the Neither Forward- Nor Backward- but Moving Sideways Crabwise Caste (NFNBBMSCCs) win this election? We need reliable caste-wise statistics.
PS: Then we have to see how many caste groups can’t stand other caste groups and how many within each caste group hate other castes within the group and how many within each caste hate each other’s guts.
Me: Hmmm. What about the Gujarat model?
PS: Oh the Gujarat and Bihar models are passe. We now have the Haryana model, where all the other caste votes were consolidated against the dominant Jats.
Me: And development?
PS: Precisely, it’s a new development. We need to develop new caste equations, fresh caste alliances.
Me: No, I meant peoples’ development.
PS: Nitish has promised a dole for the unemployed. The BJP has promised scooties with petrol for meritorious girl students, colour TVs for Dalits and Mahadalits, land for the landless, houses for all. This is people’s personal development. But I agree it’s not good enough. They should have given cows.
PS: See, if you give Scooties to meritorious students, the non-meritorious ones aren’t going to like it. Far better to give everybody a cow. It also drives home the cow-protection and anti-beef message.
PS: And because the government will have to buy cows from the market to give them away, there will be a tremendous demand for cows, driving up the price of cows, thus benefiting the Yadavs, depriving Lalu of his caste vote. And if they give free fodder as well that will draw attention to Lalu’s misdeeds.
Me: Brilliant, sir.
PS: Other important questions this election will answer are: how many criminals we should field per seat and whether it is better to field criminals’ nominees or their ex-henchmen. And also whether Manoj Tiwari, the Bhojpuri actor, or Bollywood’s Shotgun Sinha is the bigger attraction.
Me: Very enlightening, sir.
PS: One last point. We need to find out how many voters decided to vote against the BJP after watching Devendra Fadnavis and Nitin Gadkari on TV showing off their plump thighs in khaki shorts at the RSS meet in Nagpur.
Me: Couldn’t that be a smart ploy to fetch them the women’s vote?
PS: Good point.
(Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal)