Confessions of a politico

Dear citizen,

Let me introduce myself. I am your political representative, elected or self-appointed. Theoretically, you are my master, the king, and I, your humble servant. In reality, I am Lord, to you and of all I survey, while in power and always itching to grab it when not. In short, you are my alibi and all that I do is in your name but for my sake. The pre-eminence of my tribe, namely politicians, starts with this primal perversion. So if everything of what I say henceforth seems crooked, blame it on that original lie. Mudhal konal, mutrum konal!

Though I am ‘your’ rep, I am now speaking on behalf of my entire ilk. You must understand the logic behind me appropriating this mandate and mantle. I can hear you murmuring that I appropriate everything that comes my way. But what I am driving at is that though we politicos are divided on party, ideological and other lines, the commonalities overwhelm differences. We may, individually or as parties, be political ins or political outs depending on the prevailing political climate, but our core character and instincts are the same. Anyway, do you know us by our ‘sterling’ individual qualities or for corruption, abuse of power and sundry other political vices that are the dominant denominator? Indeed, if you have heard me, you have heard us all, for I mean We. In any case, I love I and I will come to that soon.

Since I am de facto lord, I might as well sound like one. I alone am real. You are all illusions and, therefore, do not figure in my scheme of things. All that is yours is actually mine. You own nothing but owe everything to me. I am omnipotent: by a divine interpretation of the innocuous Constitutional law, I have become all-powerful. Nothing, micro or macro, moves without my will. And for me to muster the will to make files and your life move, I have to be propitiated, preferably in private. Not because CBI is watching, but because some jealous colleagues may be. If I am satiated, I turn formless, meaning no formal procedures like filling forms are needed to get things done. And my will comes with no bill. I am un’accountable’. My favoured colour is black.

I am omni-present too. I pervade every walk of your life and make you run from pillar to post. For this, I come in many forms: councillor, MLA, MP, Minister, PM, super-PM etc. You can find me anywhere, rather everywhere, if you are ready with the right respects. But for those unable to match devotion with dough, I am beyond reach. And I am omniscient. I know everything, because, while my sights may be in the skies, my ears are always to the ground. Besides, there is this tapping option too. And I can scent dicey deals from afar and ahead of others. For, if I don’t put my hand in the public till, someone else will. In this race within our closed group, knowledge is power and the fittest survive to face CBI and courts and then live happily ever after with kith, kin and kitty. So, as the reigning Lord I sayeth: ‘Just do your duty, ie, pay taxes; renounce all attachment to the fruit, for I have uprooted the entire tree for myself; expect nothing as nothing is left; surrender your vote and fate to me absolutely, for you have no choice. And once you take refuge in Me without protest, I can finish you faster’!

That’s what you call devil quoting scriptures. Now, let me stop playing paramatma and get down to the practical plane. Parliament is my prime playground. If I am of the ruling party or alliance, horse-trading is my favourite pastime. The returns are better here than even on race courses or stock bourses. In the opposition, I morph into a real ‘stall’-’wart’. I also fulfil ‘your mandate’ by shouting, screaming, rushing into the well without falling into it, breaking mikes and desks and staging walkouts when hungry or to relieve myself. All of this is covered by Parliamentary privilege and I myself am adequately covered, what with the recent hefty pay hike. In fact, we expressed our gratitude to the nation for this largesse by paralysing Parli for a whole session. But since we paralyse normal life outside those circular walls too by holding public rallies, agitations etc, you should deem all those perks well spent for keeping us busy inside without troubling you at least on those days.

That said, we do have many privileges other than Parli privileges. The greatest boon for a politico is the natural gift of the gab and a twisted, nay forked, tongue that enables us to speak in many voices. And we are exempted from the need to practise what we preach. Of course, to get away with all this we have to rely heavily on public memory, or rather, the lack of it. Let’s for instance take the evergreen topic of corruption. It is evergreen because we are constantly watering it. The golden canon here is: The latest looter looseth! So when a new scam breaks out, those of us who had fed and fattened ourselves on public funds earlier, suddenly emerge from the nether and occupy that moral high ground. Indeed, if we have a past, we have a future too. It is that easy for sinners to turn saints. And you don’t seem to notice. Or probably, you don’t care. Small wonder those of us who milked through every avenue, from grains to graveyard to guns, are the most vocal on corruption and probity in public life today. So trust today’s scamsters to become your champions tomorrow.

From where do we get this gall? In a way it is built into a politicos’s psyche, even if he be just a petty platform speaker. The mighty amongst us have monumental egos that need constant tickling and only political power can keep the supply going. Many are maniacs and there are megalomaniacs too. A kind of Hitleric heft is a habit with them and they may as well be starting their day with a Hail Myself salute to the figure in the mirror. Every adept act of theirs, be it even in the natural course of duty, is a gesture of monarchical magnanimity. And every folly, even if their fingerprint is found, is the work of a lowly subordinate in due democratic diligence, the otherwise eager egos smartly stepping aside. Their felicity for duplicity is such that they can rave and rant without blinking, unmindful of the four fingers pointing inwards: The King (or Queen) is always right and deemed beyond recourse. Add to this inflammable stuff, doses of family, friends and the familiar fraternity of flatterers, and you have a truly explosive cocktail that can blow up on your face. There may be a few good apples, but they invariably rot away in palpable penury or ideological cocoons. They are white blots on a dark fabric that even you have come to see as an aberration.

I know I have spoken too much. But I was emboldened by your enduring gullibility. Indeed, after this confession, I am confident of your increased pampering and patronage so that we can always prosper. I am indeed blessed.

Ever ours,

A Common Politico

e-mail the writer at [email protected]

Jawahar T R