Most religions thrive on miracles. In India, it is a miracle that Indian democracy itself thrives on miracles; rather perhaps it is a miracle that Indian democracy survives and thrives despite the political system and politicians. As the nation gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, you don’t need to be a pundit to realise that the polity and voters are hopelessly fragmented. The next Lok Sabha will be peppered with regional and local parties with 5 or 10 or 15 seats dictating terms and blackmailing their way to pelf and plunder in a fractious and incoherent coalition government. Ever wonder why India gets unstable coalitions in times of grave economic crisis? It was a joke led by the late Charan Singh in 1979 when OPEC dealt the second Oil Shock. It was the sham led by the late V. P. Singh in 1990-91 when the Indian economy virtually collapsed. It was the farce led by Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral in 1996-97 when East Asia faced a meltdown. Who will lead the next farce? Here is my choice of probable candidates:
- Chand Mohammed aka Chander Mohan: He will fulfil two crucial criteria: unity between Hindus and Muslims and the importance of dynasty in Indian politics. Besides, like Manmohan Singh, he can’t even hope to get elected!
- Raj Thackeray: No one else can revitalise democracy the way he can. Imagine goons of MNS chasing MPs from Bihar and UP through the Central Hall of Parliament.
- Mani Kumar Subba: This gentleman too will fulfil two crucial criteria: India is open to outsiders and democracy is a gamble. This man is allegedly a citizen of Nepal on the run; so at least he will ‘run’ a government. More importantly, he will use his famous lotteries to allocate portfolios to coalition partners.
- Pramod Mutalik: If democracy can be fun, this will be the ultimate thing. Imagine a debate between this staunch defender of Hindu culture and the redoubtable Renuka Choudhry. TV News channels need only do live telecast of Lok Sabha proceedings to get record TRPs.
- Pinarayi Vijayan: He will achieve what no Prime Minister in modern India has ever been able to achieve. This committed Marxist will issue a decree that will completely ban commissions from foreign companies for winning contracts (Of course, the ‘cause’ will be exempt).
- Ajit Singh: This gentleman represents the ultimate fantasy of Indian democracy: the innate ability to tie up with any party and individual, and change the tie-up in a few days. Why, he can even tie-up with the Chinese Communist Party if that can ensure he will be Prime Minister for 14 hours.
- Ramalinga Raju: These troubled times for the Indian economy need a financial whiz. Who better than the esteemed Raju? He can actually make trade and fiscal deficits, inflation, rising unemployment and farmer’s suicides disappear. Just imagine him presenting the next Union Budget!
Some readers might have read the headline and wondered if there is a typographical error in it. You see, the next Lok Sabha elections will be the 15th. But rest assured, the miracle that is Indian democracy will ensure that it will only be a year or so before we start voting in the 16th Lok Sabha elections!