July 2, 2007

In the Socialist Republic of India ...

... any political party that wishes to be registered is required to swear by socialism by law. That is, if you are not a socialist, you cannot contest in elections. You are precluded from becoming a member of the parliament, a minister, and certainly a prime minister. No wonder that the ruling coalition never tires of mouthing platitudes about the plight of the masses, egalitarianism, social justice, and what not. We are now not shocked to learn that in this socialist haven, a politician considers it an insult to travel with, not just the huddled masses as Gandhi once did, but also the gentry.

Subhas Yadav, a member of the Indian Parliament, and a brother-in-law of the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, was livid when he found out that he and his wife were inadvertently assigned berths in an air-conditioned second class coach, instead of an air-conditioned first class coach. What? When I am entitled to travel in the comfort of a private compartment with my wife at the tax-payer's expense, are you asking me to travel with babus, doctors, and engineers? If traveling with those second class citizens were not part of a communal conspiracy to insult a secular MP that I am, and indirectly my brother-in-law, Lalu, I don't know what is!

The Telegraph of Calcutta adds:

While the MP was yelling, the train rolled out at its scheduled time at 9.50pm. But Yadav’s supporters cut the train’s vacuum detaining it. While fellow passengers protested, the officials rushed to two AC-I passengers pleading to vacate the berths for the night. The train finally left for Delhi at 10.15pm only after the couple had boarded the train.

Of course, the spokesperson for the Eastern Railways denied any trouble, adding, "Two AC-I passengers willingly vacated the space for the MP and his wife out of respect when the former learnt about the MP’s inconvenience."

Yeah, right! Here is how I imagine the exchange between the Railway official and the couple went:

Rail Babu: Citizen Janta, you and your wife must vacate this compartment and move to the second class immediately.

Rashtriya Janta: [bewildered] Move to the second class, sir? Why?

Babu: These first class berths are reserved for the Vanguard of the Proletariat, the Voice of the Oppressed Minorities, the Champion of the Dalits, Secular Socialist Subhas Yadav, MP, and his wife.

Janta: Of course not. I have verified the names on the reservation chart posted outside the coach with my own eyes. It simply said Mr. and Mrs. Janta.

Babu: That's an error, Citizen Janta, an unfortunate error. You don't think we will actually allow you to travel in the first class, when the venerable MP suffers the inconvenience of traveling in an air-conditioned second class amid the class conscious, globalized, bourgeois coolies of the imperialist empire, do you?

Janta: I am sorry, sir, but we are not moving an inch from here. We have paid a hefty sum for these berths well in advance, and we are determined to travel to New Delhi in them. Besides, we are on our honeymoon, and we would like to have some privacy.

Babu: To heck with your honeymoon, Citizen Janta. Need I remind you of your constitutional obligations as a citizen of our Socialist Republic? From each according to his ability, and to each according to his needs. You paid for the seats according to your ability, and we will give them to the VVIMP according to his needs.

Janta: ... but ... but ... the Constitution also guarantees equal rights to all the citizens irrespective of caste, class, religion ...

Babu: Ah, but it doesn't say office or party, does it? If you thought that you had equal rights to this compartment as I did, let alone the VVIMP, Yadavji, then you have not studied our socialist constitution well enough.

Janta: With all due respect, sir, I'd like to inform you that I am a lawyer ...

Babu: Look here, Citizen Janta, I don't have the time to enter into a constitutional debate with you. The train is already half an hour late, and Yadavji has several communal opponents to block and tackle in the parliament tomorrow. As you well know, it is a matter of paramount importance to the State that he conserves as much of his energy as possible for the battle ahead ...

[lowering his voice] Those damn chairs and tables in the parliament house are bloody heavy, man...

[raising his voice again] If he did not travel in comfort, the communal forces will win, and we could not achieve growth with social justice. The classless society will remain just a dream if the VVIMP and his wife were forced to travel in second class. I order you to vacate this first class compartment voluntarily, or else...

Janta: [scowling] Or else what?

Babu: Or else Yadavji will reclassify you as belonging to a forward community. For eternity, none of your children... you are planning to have children, aren't you... your grandchildren, great grandchildren... can even dream of becoming a doctor, an engineer, or a manager.

Janta: How can he? I was born to backward parents, and my wife, too.

Babu: And, you claim to be a lawyer! Of course, Yadavji can! Who do you think made your father certified backward? Manu? With Yadavji's blessings, even I can classify you into a Thakur, a Brahmin, a Jain, or whatever I wish.

Janta: [now viscerally scared] Oh, please sir, please don't do that. You might as well pack us off to the Gulag... er... the Thar Desert. No sir, we don't want to be forward. We want to remain backward. Forever. We will vacate these berths and move to the second class at once. Of course, voluntarily as you ordered, and out of respect that you demanded for the VVIMP. Here we go!

And, the train left Patna Station, while Yadav's supporters bid farewell to the MP, shouting, "Long live our selfless leader, Yadavji! Long live the Secular, Socialist, Democratic, Republic of India"!

1 comment :
  1. It is so shocking when one reads of such incidents time and again in this country and it is exactly this that makes me shake my head with cynicism when people talk of India becoming a super power by 2025.
    But it was an amusing conversation - I guess laughter is our only defence against these political mafia and their brain dead followers

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