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The poll circus comes to town

We have heard and endured everything in the name of Indian elections: half-baked truths, outrageous claims and doctored speeches. But do we care anymore? Pratik Kanjilal examines...

columns Updated: Oct 09, 2009 16:35 IST

A week ago, a woman threw her sandal at Justice Arijit Pasayat in the Supreme Court, like the Iraqi national heartthrob, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, had attacked George Bush. Her action is incomprehensible because the judge was actually helping her by quashing a peculiar case in which she was embroiled. But her motivation may be understandable. Even the simplest court case throws up such a storm of lies and doctored half-truths that you don’t want to know any more. You just want to hit out at something.

Of course, you don’t have to go to court to enjoy this cathartic experience. In the election season, your everyday environment is charged with enough doctored realities and plain lies to drive you insane. The lefties, who will play kingmaker after the polls, want us to believe that they will cancel out globalisation and rework the nuclear deal. They will reverse the arrow of time and bag the Nobel for physics. Ask me if I care.

They aren’t the only time travellers. BJP candidate B.L. Sharma ‘Prem’ has returned from a decade-long retreat in Haridwar to redraw the map of South Asia. A former giant-killer — he felled the notorious Congressman H.K.L. Bhagat in the 1991 polls — he now plans to wipe Pakistan off the map and re-absorb its territory into India. Why not re-absorb Afghanistan, too, I wonder? Wasn’t it a part of the Mauryan Empire? Anyway, do I care? I’m sick of pondering these half-baked half-truths.

I’m reading this excellent essay by Sitaram Yechury, the only sane voice left in the commie high command, where he writes of the temple town of Ayuthya near Bangkok, which the Thais regard as Rama’s birthplace. Need I care? Sharma will re-absorb Thailand, too. And maybe we — believers and unbelievers alike — will be able to get over the deafening silence of the BJP on the temple issue, which they once imposed on all of us to win power. It feels like the ringing hush after a slap in the face, but do I care?

Should I care if Rahul is the true Gandhi scion and Varun fell out of the family tree on his head? The scion’s party has again given tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, project managers of the 1984 riots, despite Manmohan Singh’s promise to the Akalis. The Akalis will protest in Delhi but in Punjab, where they are in alliance with the BJP, they are silent about Varun’s anti-Sikh statements. Should we care?

Varun claims the tape of his speech was doctored, though he was elated when Bal Thackeray backed the opinions expressed therein — which he simultaneously rejected as not his own. So what else is new? NDA minister Dilip Singh Judeo had claimed a tape showing him touching bribe money to his forehead was doctored, and anyway he needed the money to fight a nebulous Christian conspiracy. Bangaru Laxman said all of reality was doctored. For the last time, I don’t care.

How could I say that? Of course I care. As you do, I’m sure. What’s going on? These words are spitting out of my word processor but I deny processing them. Call the editor. Call the police. I’m prepared to swear an affidavit on genuine Telgi stamp paper — this column has been doctored.

Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine.