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Political equations

Now that all 79 ministers have been sworn in, it’s time to stop bothering about who got what ministry and why they did so. My sources assure me that there’s no need at all to worry, because all the appointments have been done on the basis of firm scientific principles. Manas Chakravarty comments.

india Updated: May 30, 2009 23:40 IST
Manas Chakravarty

Now that all 79 ministers have been sworn in, it’s time to stop bothering about who got what ministry and why they did so. My sources assure me that there’s no need at all to worry, because all the appointments have been done on the basis of firm scientific principles.

As a matter of fact, they insist that the entire political business has a solid scientific foundation. As proof, they point to the famous equation E=mc2, in which E stands for Elections, m for money and c for caste. I initially protested that I vaguely remembered the equation had something to do with energy and the speed of light, but was convinced when a grassroot political worker said c can’t possibly stand for ‘speed of light’ unless they spelt ‘speed’ as ‘cpeed’, which was plain wrong. “It’s very straightforward,” said a politician from Tamil Nadu, “which is why another equation that best captures the political process is the mathematical formula for a straight line, or y=mx+c.” “Y obviously stands for “Yelection,” he continued, while m denotes money and c is for caste.” On asking what x stood for, he whispered that it was a secret ingredient. “It’s the X factor,” he told me conspiratorially, in hushed tones.

Which brings me to the formula for distributing Cabinet berths. The things that go into the equation are caste, kin, region, the ability to rub opponents the wrong way, proximity to the powers-that-be, loyalty and some say (though this is hotly disputed) an ability to read and write. The formula here is CB= p·l*ckr.·········the symbols at the end being the code for ‘ability to rub opponents the wrong way’.

Others point out, however, that the formula for allotting Cabinet berths is based on string theory, which combines quantum mechanics and general relativity. There are 11 dimensions to string theory, exactly the same as for cabinet berths. Sometimes they come in handy, and reports say that Arjun Singh was consoled by pointing out that in another dimension in an alternative universe a Cabinet post had already been allotted to him. Lalu, on the other hand, has been told in no uncertain terms that for every action, such as jilting the Congress in Bihar, there is an equal but opposite reaction.

Perhaps the best people to attest to the scientific character of politics are the Communists, with their belief in ‘scientific socialism.’ They used to firmly believe that parallel lines do not meet, which is why they never allied with people like Jayalalithaa and Chandrababu Naidu. But at a stormy politburo meeting before the election, Prakash Karat reportedly argued passionately that while parallel lines may not meet in Euclidean geometry, they do in the more modern Riemann geometry and, therefore, he allied with a clutch of right-wing parties.

After the election, of course, Euclid is back in the CPI(M) and they want to send Riemann to Siberia. The BJP, on the other hand, is known to favour Ohm’s Law, because of a misunderstanding that it’s spelt ‘Om’s Law’. “Om, as you know, is the symbol of Hindu civilisation,” a BJP worker reminded me.

Even the cynics understand that politics is based on science. “Just as we have the theory of relativity,” chortled a confirmed cynic, “so politics is based on the Theory of Crap — short for ‘CRorepatis After Power.”

There is some dispute, though, whether politics is based on physics or chemistry or biology. Some point out that it’s very much akin to Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. “Just as the dominant gene kicks out the recessive gene,” pointed out a biological-cum-political scientist, “so did the Congress treat the DMK.”

Others say the political process is chemical, because it stinks like hydrogen sulphide, or rotten eggs. Economists also stake a claim, because they say MV=PT, or Money.Vote=Power Trip.

But perhaps the last word on the subject is from the astrophysicists, who point out that politics is very obviously a black hole.