The nation heaved a huge collective sigh of relief as revelations of alleged improprieties surfaced against Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Smriti Irani. ‘It was getting too much,’ said an aggrieved citizen, ‘over a year had passed for the new government, without any skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard. This was highly irregular. Thankfully, things are now rapidly coming back to normal.’
A hack with a media outfit echoed that sentiment. ‘This government kept on talking about development, foreign policy and other dreary stuff. I was so bored I had taken to drink. I would like to thank Lalit Modi for saving me from alcoholism.’ His editor concurred. ‘That guy deserves a medal,’ he said, adding he was writing a novel to be called ‘From NaMo to LaMo’, in which Namo invites LaMo to set up a YPL or Yoga Premier League in India, with yoga competitions and cheerleaders. ‘Wait,’ he added, ‘here’s a tweet from the PMO, probably about the scandal’. ‘No, it’s about congratulating Burundi on their national day,’ he said, disappointed.
A cynic said the revelations had come in the nick of time. ‘I was on the brink of becoming cynical about cynicism,’ he shuddered, adding that would have destroyed his entire world-view. ‘You see’, he explained, ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to laugh at it.’ A morally outraged person complained that opportunities for expressing moral outrage had diminished after the new government took over.
Not everybody is happy. A producer at a TV entertainment channel was devastated. ‘Earlier, the news channels had sunk to the level of dispensing fake fury over things like red beacons on cars. But the news has become so entertaining these days that nobody watches our shows,’ she sniffed. A crony capitalist said he disliked all the publicity.
‘Lalit Modi is giving us a bad name. You see, we cronies are humble networkers who pull our strings with all parties impartially and do our skulduggery quietly, shyly shunning the limelight,’ he explained.
Not everybody is impressed. ‘Naaah, this doesn’t quite make the grade,’ said a chap who was a political scientist on the internet. He said the revelations were ‘no scam, not even a racket, hardly a boondoggle and could barely be called a fiddle’.
‘It’s more sham than scam, really,’ he said sadly. He lamented, sobbing inconsolably, that the great scams of bygone days were probably gone forever. A friend consoled him by pointing out it was early days yet and it was only fair to give the new government time.
He said reassuringly it hadn’t done a bad job of entertaining us with its antics about ancient India, love jihad, beef bans and other circuses. A public relations guy opined it was a failure of communications. ‘Lalit Modi misunderstood what the Swachh Bharat campaign was all about,’ he said. He was interrupted by a tweet from the PMO. ‘Warm congratulations to Mongolian president for starting yoga’ he read out.
But the literature student had the last word. ‘I’ve always wanted to try out this quote from Orwell’s Animal Farm,’ he said, before spouting, ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.’
Manas Chakravarty is consulting editor, Mint
The views expressed are personal