E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: In a rare show of friendship and camaraderie amidst hectic campaigning, politicians of various hues got together and played a five-overs-a-side tennis ball cricket match in Mysore, thanks to the efforts of the district journalists’ association.
Never mind how good they were as players but they showed a bit of much-needed sportsmanship in a season of name calling and mudslinging.
In the great Indian Political League, what if the three main national formations played a cricket match?
In the Congress, only Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi would have batted all through without anybody getting a chance to bat since the kit belonged to them.
If one of them got tired and retired, Priyanka would continue the innings. In the mid-match “strategy break” as in IPL-2, the team would be shown a photo gallery of great Gandhis of yester year like Indira, Rajiv and Sanjay, and the future Gandhis in diapers.
Leaders like Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, Kapil Sibal, Jayanthi Natarajan et al would run around the stadium all day fielding without as much as a whimper of a complaint. Manmohan Singh would be fully padded, ‘boxed up’ , and helmeted to take care of sudden bouncers from disgruntled elements.
Senior pro and coach Pranab Mukherjee would be present to make sure no one, not even Sheila Dixit, with her record, would be allowed to come near the wicket. Even the younger and talented lot like Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia or Milind Deora would have to start from scratch and learn to play second fiddle!
The slogan for the team would naturally be: “One for all (Gandhi) and all for one (Gandhi). Jai ho!”
How would it be in the BJP camp?
There will be plenty of interruptions with the designated opening pair L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi taking a lot of time for strategic consultations.
Ostensibly, the discussions will be with the coach on the ground, but in reality the non-playing coaches will be sitting in Nagpur communicating to the players through a secret mike.
Although the game is supposed to start at 9.30 am, neither Advani nor Modi will come out to bat till the rahu kaala is over. The match start is further delayed because of confusion within the team over whether Rajnath Singh should open the innings with Advani or Arun Jaitely.
When there is no resolution in sight, Sushma Swaraj says she is game too, but Venkaiah Naidu says: “Arre baba, this is a cricket game, not a ticket game. This is a time for tricks, not chicks.”
Finally, Jaswant Singh harrumphs that he will open and Modi, given his pathetic showing in a previous match, can come one-down. But Modi says his previous record doesn’t count.
The overrate is reduced to six an hour since there will be regular and routine disruptions to take arathi of Advaniji after every over by all the district Ram Mandirs in India and because Advani likes to wring his hands after every ball to show that he is a man of action.
The knicker-clad openers find it difficult to counter the pace and fury, especially Advani who insists on wearing a guard made symbolically of loh (iron). When Varun Gandhi bowls an all-beamer over, the PM-in-waiting takes a toilet break and rushes to the pavilion, to sort out the mess between, well, all the pretenders—and to adjust his dentures.
Their slogan: “We may seem to be fighting, but that’s the reality. Jai Shri Ram”.
In the case of Third Front, the match never starts as the Left refuses to take the ground, if anybody resembling Manmohan Singh is seen near the ground.
H.D. Deve Gowda always has an eye on the next pitch where the Congress is playing, waiting for a nod from Sonia Gandhi to drop everything and run there.
Both Jayalalitha and Mayawati have a bigger crowd surrounding them in the pavilion than those waiting to watch for the match to start. Before he can get his eye in and start scoring, Chandrababu Naidu loses his concentration when he sees Chiranjeevi walking across the ground.
Sharad Pawar who was seen driving into the stadium in an open car to loud cheers, mysteriously drives off after being included in the team. Amar Singh finds yet another ‘lost and found’ brother in Munnabhai, who to most people was not sure whether he was shooting or sobbing.
The slogan of third Front was: “Take us seriously and don’t treat us as extras; or else, jaya he.”
It was evident in chasing a score of 543, no party would be able to escape the follow on and in the second innings, there will be large-scale fielding and umpiring lapses, to enable one of the teams with the help of ‘ extras’ to emerge as the winner.