The party president called the meeting to order. "We must," she said, "analyse the reasons for the debacle and list the corrective actions we need to take." "Could it be," piped up a foolish fellow, "we rely too much on one dynasty?" Cries of 'Moron' and 'Traitor' filled the room. A senior Congressman pointed out the Yadav and Badal families had won the elections. "What we need to do," he said, "is to find out why they succeeded."
A young worker suggested they should bring in a consultant. A Bright Young Spark talked about a guy in North Korea called Kim Jong-un and described how, after he succeeded his father as the Dear Leader, the people sang and danced for days. "They call him The Great Successor," ended the Bright Young Spark. An awed silence ensued. "What exactly does he do?" asked an Ace Strategist. "Ummmm….he likes basketball a lot," said the Bright Young Spark. Everybody then shouted they should engage Kim immediately. The Ace Strategist licked his pencil and wrote, "Agenda no 1: Hire Kim Jong-un; No. 2: Rahul must play basketball."
"Could our mismanagement at the Centre be a reason?" piped up the foolish Congressman again. He was shouted down. "Why then did they elect Okram Ibobi Singh?" asked a cynic. Several shouts of 'Who?' were heard and one chap explained that he was the chief minister of Manipur. "Moneypur, eh?" said a youth leader, "sounds promising, must go there." "Ibobi Singh," continued the cynic, "was the chief minister under whom Manipur endured a blockade for months, without Delhi batting an eyelid. Insurgency and drugs are rampant there. If he can get re-elected, so can all of us."
"What does Akhilesh have that Rahul hasn't?" asked an old-timer. "Could it be that he's a local, while all our big campaigners were outsiders?" asked a silly Congressman who was completely ignored. "It says here," said an analyst, "that Akhilesh has a winsome wife." "Why win only some, why not all?" asked a bewildered Congressman. "Winsome means," said a leader with a dictionary, "attractive, fetching, charming." "And he also has twins," said another guy. The Ace Strategist wrote in his notebook, "Agenda 3: Rahul's wedding. Agenda 4: Twins before 2014 elections."
A dalit leader said that Rahul's having dinner at Dalit homes didn't work. "He should have lunch instead," suggested a bigwig. "No, no," said the Dalit leader, "why should they feed him, surely he should feed them?" The uncomfortable silence was broken only by the scratching of the Ace Strategist's pencil on his pad, as he wrote "Agenda 5: Invite poor Dalit families to Delhi for lunch".
Several leaders said they should target the aspirations of the youth. After much debate, it was decided the youth aspired to DVDs, spas, beauty salons, snazzy ringtones and MBAs. The Ace Strategist noted, under Agenda 6, they must promise to give these away free. Meanwhile several fat Congressmen sat on a silly fool who was babbling what sounded like 'too many sycophants…ummph..no grass-roots leaders…ohhh.. policy paralysis.. aargghh'.
At that point a Tech-Savvy Leader spoke, "I find that the common ingredient, the X-factor, in the manifestos of the winning parties in UP, Punjab and Goa was the promise of free laptops to students. If we promise a laptop with internet connection, a tablet and a smartphone, all free, to every newborn child, we're sure to win in 2014." As the Ace Strategist made a note of it under Agenda 7, cries of joy and shouts of relief rent the air.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint
Views expressed by the author are personal