Bungle-O-Pongal

EC’s jumbo mumbo:

The Elephant, pardon, Election Commission seems serious about its stupidity. Its diktat to cover all the elephant and Mayawati statues is not to deceive constipated crows but to prevent UP voters from being deceived by political eagles, it appears. This no doubt is an operation that makes even Maya’s maniacal mega schemes seem mere maya in comparison.

The mercurial Mayawati had littered the landscape of the State with statues of herself and her party symbol at such a scorching pace in the last five years that those figurines will probably outnumber the voters. Now, thanks to the EC’s fatwa the entire UP administration has been doing nothing but hunting for tarpaulins, sundry other sheets, wooden planks and boxes and whatever they can lay their hands on to search out and cover those uncountable statues spread out in that sprawling State at great expense, all in less than two weeks! Worse, while those jumbo statues are truly jumbo size, some of Maya’s larger than life statues dwarf even those mute mammals’. Not that it matters, but thanks to Maya and EC, UP’s aesthetics, if any, have gone for a toss too.

All this passes muster on the simplistic assumption that the UP voters will be swayed by the pedestal presence of Maya or her elephant. Sure, bureaucratic fine print to that effect does exist in the EC rules on model code of conduct. Before the ‘90s, when DD was the sole purveyor of visual news, movies of stars who dabbled in politics, even remotely, used to be banned from being beamed. But with the advent of private media, such things became irrelevant. But then and now, the presumption that voters will be influenced by such display in the media or in the public is an insult to the voter, however dumb the voter himself may be. For instance, I would like to know if the EC staff or the EC himself would vote for Maya or any candidate by looking at a stone or some image. Earlier, many ignored or turned away in disgust from those grey eyesores. Now, EC has ensured everyone knows what lies underneath that colourfully covered spectacle.

All party symbols allotted by the EC represent some object, live or inert, that we see in our daily lives. A party chooses its symbol based on some ideological rationale or on availability. No one knows why Maya chose the elephant though having done so, a white elephant would have been a more apt choice. On second thought, thank god that did not happen: imagine the expense, rather explosion, in the exchequer, if those statues were made of white marble! But let’s leave E’phants alone. Many animals double up as party symbols, a true ‘cruelty’ that the Blue Crosses and Manekas should take note of. Now will the EC ban the Discovery, Animal Planet and other wildlife channels? Will polls in TN be a nightly affair when the Sun is not visible and all vegetation be cut so that neither are pairs of leaves anywhere in sight? In fact, I have seen all the Election Commissioners raising their right ‘Hand’ quite often during press conferences or in public, no doubt, for bona fide reasons. Indeed, it looks the only way display of symbols can be checked is by blindfolding the voters all through. But then is that not what politicos are already doing?

I am all for dispensing with the statues of many leaders for they are reminders of what a pain they have been or are. But instead of unleashing the stringent statutes against the still statues, the EC would do well to monitor those moving around in gay abandon, swinging voters with bribes and promises and violating the rules/codes in every way.

The player in the gallery:

This is what happens when you put a habitual hands-off spectator into the playing ring. Even when he is supposed to be playing he is quite content with watching helplessly like the rest of us. But the worst is this player is not just a player but the one leading the pack!

So, Captain MSingh has nothing to do with and is not responsible for whatever is happening on the field. While all hits go to the credit of his boss, the Cong President, the selector at whose pleasure he is in power, all misses fall at the doorstep of no one in particular. So, the humble, honest and honourable man that he is, is most pained by all the ills afflicting the nation currently. Small wonder that when scam after scam broke out right under his nose with his eyes looking the other way, he belatedly conceded a trust deficit. In one stroke he thus ‘joined’ in the nation’s anger against corruption which he was in a position to have prevented. Ditto with inflation. The number of times this eminent economist, whom even the US and other nations seek out for advice, has expressed concern over skyrocketing prices would put Mayawati’s elephant count in the shade. But then when none listens to him how can onions, tomatoes and potatoes be expected to?

At an NRI meet last week the PM declared that the economic growth will be stunted at 7% instead of the projected 9%. Expressing his worries, he reeled out an array of reasons for it. But when quizzed what plans he had up his sleeve, all MSingh had to offer were bland statements and a blank facade. After trying their best, the NRIs did not want to worry him any further. The PM’s to-do-but-can’t-do-anything list is endless. On Mullaperiyar, he wants the two States to talk when they are both beyond talking terms and does not himself want to sit as an adjudicator, as he should. Kudankulam too has been outsourced to the winds of fate. When the rising child mortality and malnourishment was brought to his notice, the best he could do was shed a tear when actually he should wiping toddlers’ tears. This absentee PM is concerned about everything except the duties and obligations concerning him.

Tail-piece:

The shortsighted EC seems content with holding Maya’s elephant by the tail, ignoring the bigger black mass of her sins. MSingh, the official head languishing at the tail-end, holds on to nothing and cannot also be held accountable for anything. Thanks to these constitutional bunglers we the people at our wit’s end can’t make head or tail and so have no choice but to hold on to hope.

Happy Pongal, and just that, the new Tamil New Year having been rescheduled.

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Jawahar T R