I have a question for the Chief Election Commissioner. With so much entertainment in the Punjab Assembly elections, why doesn’t he impose an entertainment tax on the public? When the Shromani Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal says he will give the poor atta and dal at Rs. 4 and Rs. 20 per kilo respectively, many in the gathering laugh. When Capt. Amarinder Singh promises 20,000 jobs through mega projects, the unemployed smirk and wonder what he has been doing for the last five years. Probably calculating the figure of 20,000.
A LAUGH -A-PROMISE
Not to be left out, we too have launched a party: the Land Grabbers and Dealers Party (LGDP). Our aim is to create political humour and to take digs at corrupt politicians. Unfortunately, we couldn’t file nomination papers because of infighting over who would become CM if we came to power. So, now we can make the weirdest promises till next elections. Like not just free atta and dal but also our party workers as cooks, a four-lane highways to the moon, jobs for everyone and a free motorbike with every job as an incentive to come to office. There shall be no dearth of promises, as they are only meant to attract and make people laugh.
BEING A GOOD SPORT?
Back to the actual Punjab elections, Navjot Singh Sidhu, BJP’s candidate from Amritsar, has assigned himself the task of amusing the masses. Pitted against Congress’ Surinder Singla, Sidhu declares that Singla is like a lamb he can slay anytime. Singla says he’ll see to it that Sidhu leaves Amritsar after pawning his house. Seems like one is a butcher, and the other a property dealer by profession.
In a verbal duel on a private TV channel, Singla, who is Punjab’s current Finance Minister, called Sidhu a murderer, while Sidhu said Singla was an agent of Reliance. If they’d been given gloves and helmets, the Election Commission could have sold the entertainment rights to sports channels.
A SPIRITED ANNOUNCEMENT
From being the land of milk and lassi, Punjab today has become the land of liquor shops. Sensing the importance of liquor, we launched the Sharabi Dal, and announced its merger with the LGDP. We have declared uninterrupted supply of liquor during elections (though clandestinely, as the Election Commission has ordered closure of liquor shops on polling days). In case of urgencies, however, we will home deliver liquor. Our endeavour will be to open sharab bhattis all over Punjab and we promise 50 per cent of the profits to local police. Capt. Amarinder Singh has declared he won’t allow a drop of water to go out from the Punjab rivers: he probably realises that the swelling population of sharabis need water to go with their drinks.
Campaign advertising is at its most innovative and outrageous best. There’s a mudslinging match on. One Akali ad shows a bankrupt Maharaja who has looted Punjab of Rs 30,000 crores with pictures of Capt. Amarinder’s Motibagh Palace before and after renovation. The Captain’s supporters, meanwhile, project Badal as corrupt. Looters, thugs, plunderers, killers, murderers, cheaters are some of the descriptives used for opponents.
Badal declares that number seven is lucky for him because in 1970, 1977, and 1997 he was the CM. This year is 2007, so he’ll become CM. Capt. Amarinder, after praying at various religious places, announces that number seven is luckier for him.
RAM VERSUS RAVANA
The first question about a candidate is: Who is he related to? Many tickets have been given out to relatives of bigwigs. If someone is not
connected to the Badals or Amarinder or Bhattal, the second question is: “How much was paid to get the ticket?” In Kapurthala, the wife of Rana Gurjit Singh (Congress MP from Jalandhar) is contesting.
In Dhanola, Kuldeep Bhattal, the brother of Deputy CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is in the fray. Manpreet Brar, nephew of Parkash Singh Badal is SAD’s nominee in Gidderbaha. In Lambi, where Parkash Singh Badal is contesting, his brother Mahesh Inder Singh is challenging him from the Congress. If a brother can be fielded against brother, then why not Ram against Ravana? In Pathankot, Ashok Sharma who has played Ram in the local Ram Lila is Congress’s nominee, his opponent is BJP’s Master Mohan Lal, who has played Ravana. Lal says Sharma is a fake Ram and Ashok says Lal is a real Ravana. Voting decisions could be based on the candidates’ performance in the Ram Lila. Had the Election Commission imposed tax on it, it would have covered half the cost of elections.
(Bhatti is a well-known satirist)