Saturday, September 12, 2009

AUSTERITY AND AAM AADMI: GAMES POLITICIANS PLAY!

Austerity is the latest mantra of UPA 2, the government of the "Aam Aadmi' (Common Man). After it was revealed by the Indian Express that the only real accomplishment of two of its ministers in the first 100 days of this government was that they were enjoying the warm hospitality of five star hotels, the Congress High Command had to order them out in full public view, despite their claims that they were footing the bills from their own bulging pockets.

Not satisfied, the Congress High Command directed the Prime Minister to call a special meeting of the Union Cabinet, to reign in those ministers who were living ostentatiously on the tax payers' money. Since the image of the Congress party was at stake, and some heavy weight ministers were much opposed to the idea of cutting down on their privileges, Rahul Gandhi was deputed by Sonia Gandhi to attend this meeting as a Special Observer to ensure that the slightly built Dr Manmohan Singh was not overwhelmed by them.

Here are some experts from that stormy fictitious meeting. Any similarity with what happened in the actual meeting is in your imagination:

PM: Gentlemen, Madam is very upset that at this time when the nation is facing severe drought, you guys are enjoying at the expense of tax payers. This must stop forthwith.

Pawar: Where is the drought? It is raining heavily now. I had a tough time reaching here in time.

Tharoor: I would be ashamed if I was spending people's money. I am spending my own savings. My one lakh Twitter followers also know this.

PM: This is not the UN. This is India. You can't be seen living in such luxury, and that too for 100 days.

Tharoor: But I need privacy, more than anything else, which Kerala House cannot give. You see my wife stays in Europe...

PM: Oh! That is why you have been frequenting the hotel gym too! But then why are you wearing a lungi?

Tharoor: My non-Twitter followers must also identify with me. Must they not feel that I am one of them now, even though I have never stayed in Kerala and never will?

Pawar: This austerity stuff is nonsense. We are the government of the aam admi. I think you have forgotten that we rule the aam aadmi; we are not him.

PM: Pawar ji, we know that there is probably no politician who is richer than you. But, what difference will it make if you travel economy class?

Pawar: How can you expect me to sit next to an aam aadmi?

Rahul: I think as politicians we have to have to make austerity a habit. See, I wear only kurta pajamas.

Pawar: So do I. But that is for "dikhawa" only, like Tharoor has just implied. You think the aam aadmi does not know how rich we are? Look at your designer watch, glasses, shoes...

Rahul: This is all imitation stuff, picked up by the SPG commandos for me from the Sarojini Nagar pavement bazaar.

Farooq: I can't travel in economy class; my family has ruled Kashmir for decades. I cannot lower my dignity.

Rahul: Mine has ruled the whole of India. We all know we are rulers, but the aam aadmi still believes innocently that we are leaders. We cannot totally ignore them openly.

PM: Farooq ji and Pawar ji. Madam's orders are clear. Either you fall in line or quit.

Pawar: Oh!... Actually I don’t mind travelling economy, but I am too big to fit into those small seats. Why don't you accept an additional 1% pay cut over and above the huge 20% you have already imposed so heartlessly?

Mamata: You should "eat" only what you need. But your appetite seems limitless. How "big" is BCCI?

Pawar: You know nothing about agriculture...the prices of sugar and pulses have exceeded my most optimistic expectations!

Farooq: My long legs too can't fit in that small leg space that economy class offers.

Mamata: Why are you all talking of flying? You should be travelling by Indian Railways.

Sibal: This is the age of space travel and you want to take us back to Gandhi?

Mamata: The aam aadmi can afford to travel only in trains.

Sibal: The food in the first class of Rajdhani is unpalatable and the linen ordinary.

Mamata: First class? You must travel second class only.

Sibal: These days even the aam aadmi does not travel by second class, only those who fall even below the human line do.

Mamata: I do

Sibal: It shows!

Rahul: It is not just about travelling. You have to change where you stay too.

PM: And where do you want us to stay Rahul ji?

Rahul: Manmohan ji, not you. Luckily you are PM. But all others need to share the pain and difficulties faced by the poorest of the poor.

Pawar: I am not going to stay in the house of any Kalawati. No village cot can take my weight.

Rahul: Sleeping on the floor has great benefits. Particularly if you have to endure it only about once a year, with TV cameras rolling and friendly TV channels playing the same clip one hundred thousand times.

Pawar: Look Rahul, you have never lived among the people ever. You need to discover what India is. We already know it. Most of us have come up the hard way. We've been through all this.

Rahul: What about your kids, who are around my age?

PM: Thank God none of mine are in politics.

Pawar: You can take all our kids along on these one-night stands. They are just like you. Mould India's next gen royals the way you want to.

Soni: We all must go too. That will be great for tourism, you know. That one stay in a dalit home by UK's Home Secretary along with Rahul ji has led to sharp rise in dalit tourism! Mayawati is worried.

Pawar: Leave us alone. We can't be a party to this hypocritical drama at our age.

PM: They will all agree to your proposal Rahul ji. After all the aam aadmi must know that we are with him.

Rahul: They don't sound like they will.

PM: Friends, next year there will be plenty of rain. No austerity after that. Sharad ji, please agree to tighten your public belt for one year. Rahul ji is not asking anyone to touch that unseen belt!

Rahul: The Congress is thinking of going it alone in Maharashtra in the coming elections...

Pawar: Err...I have put on a little extra weight. My doctor has also asked me to take care...one year is fine. I will manage.

Rahul: That's great. The meeting is over.

Pawar: A small request Rahul ji. Defence and Home Ministers have their own planes. Let us buy our planes too. Then the aam aadmi will never get to see us flying first class and feel jealous.

Farooq: There is the question of security also, you know!

Rahul: Now you are talking. Manmohan ji, on security grounds, please let all cabinet ministers buy planes for themselves. If they need a hundred commandos to keep them safe and away from the aam aadmi on the ground, surely they need to be put in a bubble in the air too!

Tharoor: What about junior ministers like me? I need privacy more than security!

Rahul: A pool of planes should also be created for Junior Ministers for the time being. No more commercial flights for ministers. Can't afford to actually become aam aadmis, can we? That is not what the business of politics is about.

All (except the PM): Indeed! Thank you Sir!

Rahul: But to get all this, you will have to make a small sacrifice: accept another 10% cut in your salaries!

Sibal: That is a bit too much, considering you have just given a bonanza to government servants through the Pay Commission. I will double Pawar ji's offer: we'll take a 2% cut.

Pawar: We will take that 10% cut if you allow us to raise our salaries by 100%.

Rahul: You guys have the power to vote yourself any increase, and have done that many times already. One more time won't hurt. But do that only after three months.

Farooq: That is a very reasonable suggestion. We agree.

Rahul: Excellent! Ambika (Soni), take out massive advertisements in all papers across the country saying that all ministers have decided to contribute an additional 10% of their salary to the Rajiv Gandhi Drought Relief Fund (RGDRF).

Soni: But Rahul ji, that will cost much, much more than their contribution!

Sibal: Silly lady, that will be debited from a different head. Not a penny will be paid out of the RGDRF. If the aam aadmi and the not-so-aam types don't get to know about this great sacrifice being made by us, what is the use of taking any cut?

Rahul: Since all doubts have been cleared, you can declare the meeting over Manmohan ji.

All: Raj Kumar Rahul ji ki Jai! Jai Ho!

Rahul: Tharoor meet me separately after this. I need to talk to you about this privacy thing in private.
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