(The Pioneer, February 26: “…..in the AIADMK’s manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections… J Jayalalithaa has promised free mixers & grinders, fans, milch cows and goats to the people…..”)
Dad: Son, congratulations on your 18th birthday. From today, you bear on your shoulders the grave responsibilities that come with being an adult. You are now a voter and must exercise your right in a mature manner in the general elections.
Son: Of course. We must elect a government that can revive the economy.
Dad: Definitely. Animal husbandry is vitally important.
Son: Yes, we must raise rural productivity.
Dad: Cows, in particular, are crucial.
Dad: If they give us milch cows, we can get free milk. The calcium will strengthen our bones, making us more productive. The economy will boom and so will we.
Dad: What are your views on goats?
Son: I like mutton rogan josh.
Dad: Goats are very important. Do you know they breed every six months and cost practically nothing to keep? Mahatma Gandhi liked goat’s milk. We could become a great goat producer and exporter, a world power in goats.
Son: But dad, isn’t it far more important to have proper governance?
Dad: Of course. Among other things, we have to pay attention to proper nutrition.
Son: Absolutely. Kids are the future of the nation. The mid-day meal scheme needs to be upgraded.
Dad: A mid-day meal scheme for young goats? Brilliant idea.
Son: No, no, I wasn’t talking of goats.
Dad: I agree. Man does not live by mutton alone, he also needs chicken. But do you want a mid-day meal scheme for chickens, or want them in the mid-day meal?
Son: Dad, I have no idea what you are talking about. All I know is we should elect people who have a good track record.
Dad: Precisely. Look at how Jayalalithaa has kept her promises of free TVs, free fans, free mixer-grinders made during the state elections. She has now assured us free fans, free milch cows and free goats if her party becomes part of the government.
Son: But can the Third Front deliver the goods?
Dad: Son, 11 parties will mean 11 lists of freebies delivered. They must ensure their lists don’t overlap. If the AIADMK promises free goats, the BJD should give us free chickens and the RSP free onions. Get the picture?
Son: But dad, what about a vision for the nation?
Dad: It’s very important. I too have a vision of a guy in his CPI(M)-donated house, sitting on a sofa supplied by the JD(U), serenely sipping free hooch bestowed by the JVM. He is watching cable TV gifted by the JD(S) while his wife cooks free goat given by the AIADMK with RSP-subsidised onions and free rice donated by the Forward Bloc, on free gas given by AAP. His elder daughter studies on an SP-donated laptop, while the younger one milks the AIADMK-provided cow and his son plays with the free chickens supplied by the BJD. In the yard, a blissfully contented pig contributed by the CPI observes this idyll and grunts loudly with satisfaction.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
The views expressed by the author are personal