The government has at last scotched all the loose talk about policy paralysis. In a masterstroke worthy of the master blaster, it has nominated Sachin Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha.
All kinds of conspiracy theories are being aired. “Manmohan Singh is the brain behind the choice,” said a leading conspiracy theorist in hushed tones.
“You know how everybody makes fun of him because he doesn’t talk much,” he explained, “so he has been searching high and low for a well-known guy who speaks even less than he does, who could then be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. The idea is to draw attention away from Manmohanji and to focus it on the new silent guy, who would then get all the brickbats about being dour, dull, uncommunicative et al. When someone suggested Tendulkar’s name, the prime minister was overjoyed.”
Everyone is, of course, anxious to know what exactly Tendulkar will do in the august House. A cricket-cum-political analyst said he could do nothing, a course of action many Parliamentarians are expert at. But fans object that is not Sachin’s way. “He will use his long years of experience in cricket to bring in much-needed innovations in the Rajya Sabha,” said a supporter, adding that Tendulkar could easily introduce a few management tips from the Indian Premier League.
“For starters, he could bring in cheerleaders in the visitors’ galleries, who will whoop and pirouette after every speech. Different political parties will have different cheerleaders and the competition will result in new and innovative costumes and dances. TRP ratings of the Rajya Sabha TV channel will zoom.” Said another fan, “Nobody wants long speeches that are as dull and boring as test cricket. Tendulkar must launch a shorter, more T20-like version of parliamentary debates. As an incentive, anyone who makes a really good speech will be allowed a free hit on any legislator of his choice.” When I said that could be unconstitutional, the fan said the Constitution should be amended to allow free hits.
Many of his followers believe, however, that Tendulkar should debate on various policies in the Upper House. “For example,” said a devotee who is an economist, “during a debate on the economy, Sachin could point out, ‘Exchange-rate movements depend on shifting perceptions of relative returns from investing in different countries and on the myriad influences on relative tendencies to import and export. Modest pre-emptive action can obviate the need of more drastic exchange-rate actions at a later date, just as getting runs early is important in T20’.” Others are worried whether all those years in cricket have taken a toll. “It would be very embarrassing,” said an admirer, “if he was to wear a crotch guard to Parliament, simply out of force of habit.” Many, however, feel that might be a sensible precaution.
Another school of thought believes that Sachin could teach cricket to the Rajya Sabha members. “Instead of slanging matches, they should have cricket matches,” said a parliament-watcher, adding that “Rajya Sabha members have already selected the names for their teams, including the Congress Cats, the BJP Bulldogs, the DMK Dolphins. The rumour that the CPI(M) team will use the same alliterative animal names and call itself Communist Cockroaches, however, is false.” Rules are already being framed for the matches. All reservation norms, including reservation for women, will be adhered to during team selection. A Parliamentary Standing Committee will act as the Third Umpire.
As usual, Tendulkar himself has been remarkably reticent, merely squeaking in delight, “Aila, Rajya Sabha.”
(Manas Chakravarty is consulting editor, Mint)
Views expressed by the author are personal