(Inspired by James Thurber’s classic, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
The prime minister watched wearily as the Opposition members continued with the uproar in the House. His eyes slowly glazed over.
“Enough is enough,” he shouted in his stentorian voice, striding purposefully towards the speaker’s podium. Confronting the Opposition, he slowly rolled up his sleeves. “What do you think you’re doing?” he asked, his voice heavy with menace. His eyes were cold and hard. “You,” he barked, singling out their leader, “Is this why you’ve been elected, to obstruct the nation’s business?”
The leader blinked first, turned away shamefacedly and the Opposition members melted away.
A cheer went up from the ruling party. “Long live Yumyumji,” said his partymen as they vied with one another to shake his hand. “It’s nothing, nothing,” said Yumyum, waving them away.
“What were you dreaming about? You knocked off my spectacles by waving that hand around. Wake up. The House has been adjourned,” said the minister sitting next to Yumyum.
“Let’s go for a meeting,” said the party president as they came out of Parliament. Yumyum nodded meekly, as he politely held the car door open for her.
Yumyum surveyed the vast sea of humanity who had come to hear him, the silver-tongued orator. “Friends, Indians, countrymen, lend me your ears,” he started. An appreciative roar went up from the crowd. “Today,” he continued, “India stands at the crossroads. The wide road leads straight to death and destruction. The narrow and more scenic route also leads there, but with pauses for drinks along the way. At the stroke of our midnight hour, when the US is having lunch, we have a tryst with destiny.”
Waves of delirious applause followed. “Chalo Delhi,” he shouted.
“Stop mumbling,” said his party president irritably, shaking him awake. “It sounded like ‘Chalo Delhi’, but we are already in Delhi.”
At the party meeting, the first item was electoral reform. It would be best to nod, decided Yumyum.
“It’s time for us to put our house in order,” he said, his authoritative voice ringing out loudly. “We must stop giving tickets to criminals, make sure we use no black money and stop the rise of muscle and money power. We must renounce all privileges,” he continued unflinchingly. “To start with,” he thundered, “let’s give up those flashing red lights on our cars.”
A shout of “Hear, Hear” filled the room. So great was the emotion that some even said “Attaboy”. While the vast majority congratulated him, a knot of evil men skulked in the corner. But a steely glance from him quelled them.
“Let’s form another committee to look into election funding,” said the party president. Yumyum nodded with the rest.
Later, sitting in his office, he snoozed. “We will,” he said boldly to the TV cameras, “throw open foreign investment; cut the fiscal deficit, eliminate subsidies and privatise everything. We shall invest in infrastructure. We will scrap antiquated labour laws.” Investors across the world erupted in joy. The Sensex went up a thousand points. “Yumyum is the biggest reformer of them all. What a visionary! What a leader!” gushed several eminent economists, tears of joy rolling down their cheeks.
The phone rang shrilly, jolting the PM out of his reverie. It was the petroleum minister. “Oil prices are going up, we’ll have to increase the subsidy,” he said.
“What about the fiscal deficit?” stuttered Yumyum. “Hang the deficit,” shouted the minister. “Sure,” said Yumyum soothingly, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint The views expressed by the author are personal