For want of a promise, an election can’t be lost

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The election propaganda in the State is yet to reach the high temperature of a viral fever, but there are already telltale signs of that. Sometimes a patient starts prattling under high fever in delirious conditions.

This seems to have happened after a Congress leader offered rice at Rs 2 a kilogram and also a free colour TV as bonus for the voter. I sought the views of spokesman of JD(S) on the Congress’s offer.

“Is it a manifesto? It’s laughable!” said the spokesman of JD(S).

“Why?”

“Tell me. With prices going through the roof, will anyone be able to live with rice at two rupees a kilo? You can’t eat rice alone. What about ragi, godhi, oil, vegetables, etc? Further, you need to cook rice and that needs kerosine which is again so costly.”

“I was happy. Here was somebody who understood the nitty-gritty of day-to-day living.”

“I am so glad you say that. What is your offer or counteroffer to this?”

“How long can anybody eat rice alone? We will distribute land free of cost so that every voter can grow paddy, wheat or whatever. We had prevented NICE from acquiring prime land in the name of the Bangalore-Mysore infrastructure corridor. We will distribute a couple of acres free of cost to each voter so that she can grow and feed the family any item of her choice.”

“Are you giving anything else?”

“Yes. Congress has announced it will give a 32-inch plasma colour TV to every voter. Where will the voter keep such a huge set? Does he have the place?  We will give a site of 40 feet by 60 feet to every voter free so that he could build a nice house for himself. Our party leaders have enough lands to distribute free of cost.”

“Won’t it cost a fortune to your Government to fulfill this promise?”

“Anything cheap is not worth the effort. Let’s get elected first. Then we will look into promises and their consequences. We are not exactly new to promises and know what to do with them.’

The BJP spokesman was ready to tackle both Congress and JD(S) offers with his counteroffer.

“What are you offering?” I asked.

“We make no promises that we can’t keep. We make no bones about it. Milk is the most nourishing food rich in calcium which everybody needs. We have already announced a subsidy of Rs 2 for every litre of milk produced by farmers. We might increase it to the cost of milk itself just before the elections.”

“What about those who are not farmers or who are not producing milk?”

“This is our initial offer. Later we propose to include everybody including those who drink milk in to this scheme. Milk is after all consumed by everybody.”

“Anything else?”

“We will start a calamity fund for Rs 500 crore which we will gradually increase it to Rs 50, 000 crore. Since there is bound to be some calamity or other every year and as of now it looks we may not win the Parliament elections, we would not like to go with a begging bowl to the Centre. This fund will help us to tide over any calamity in Karnataka.”

I met the Congress spokesman the next day who had already seen the counteroffers of BJP and JD(s) and had prepared his counter-counteroffer.

“You are in the soup. Your opponents have offered massive subsidies and freebies. What will you do now?”

“We have a Brahmastra which will finish any resistance not only in Karnataka but throughout India. We have just released a political tsunami with two epicentres at Madras and Delhi. Karunanidhi and our own Arjun Singh have just started chanting the mantra of ‘Make Rahul PM’. With Sharad Pawar and Pranab Mukherjee echoing the same, this will gather momentum and sweep everyone, including Manmohan Singh off his chair.”

“Do you think these waves will work now?” I asked.

“Just to make sure we have started a low second tsunami wave by suddenly bringing in to focus Priyanka Wadhra. The national press and breaking-news-by–the–hour electronic media, which mostly covers Shah Rukh Khan’s sneezes and Saif Ali Khan’s new interests, must have slept through the whole of March and April when Priyanka met Nalini in Vellore jail. We will have that as a standby and work on that in case the first wave fails,” said the Congress spokesman.