Turnip: Welcome to the Crapola News Network. Today-today-today, we try and predict who will form the next government. That, quite literally, is the billion dollar question. The Co-Co-Congress, to keep the BJP out, will ally with anyone, including the Left, Amma and Behenji, unless each of these decides to ally with someone else, like the BJP or the Third Front, except that the Left will not ally with the BJP, even if they may ally with anyone else to keep the Congress out, unless they want to keep the BJP out, in which case they’ll ally with the Congress as well, unless the Congress wants to maintain its alliance with Mamta, in which case they won’t, which means that the BJP will ally with anyone willing to ally with them to form the government, including Mamta, Amma, Behenji and Naveen Patnaik, unless some or all of these decide to ally with the Congress to keep the BJP out, or with the Third Front to keep both the Congress and the BJP out, which means the Third Front constituents will ally with whoever is willing to ally with them to keep everyone else out, unless they ally with the Congress to keep the BJP out or with the BJP to keep the Congress out…and that will bring us back to Do! Sharad Pawar and Behenji will ally with whoever can increase their respective chances of becoming PM, though Behenji could also be swayed with the promise of a thousand statues. Mulayam will ally with anyone who can dismiss Behenji’s democratically elected government, Laloo will ally with anyone who will withdraw the cases against him, allot him the railway ministry again, and allow his family to run riot in Bihar, Amma will ally with anyone who will take down the DMK government and lob a few shells across the strait. Manmohan Singh is the UPA’s candidate for Prime Minister, unless allies like Sharad Pawar decide otherwise, in which case he is only the Congress candidate, unless Janpath decides otherwise, in which case someone else will be the candidate unless Rahul Baba says ‘yes I can and I will’ in which case he will be the Congress candidate as well as the UPA candidate. Simple, isn’t it?

Charkha: Yes indeed, Turnip. Clear as mud. But the simple-minded viewers we cater to don’t really get it. They feel this whole process is confusing, convoluted and badly in need of reform. Whatever. Anyway, to appear fair and even-handed, we also want to present the other point of view. So, exclusively on Crapola News Network, we have Quirky Indian to explain a process of electoral reforms he has in mind. QI, thanks for swinging by.

QI: No problem, Charkha. I was hanging at a nearby tree. Well, my ideas are very simple. First, let the electorate in every constituency decide how much their collective vote is worth. This is the reserve price, and the constituency is then auctioned to the highest bidder. The money received is then equally distributed amongst the voters who voted to decide the constituency’s worth.

Once all constituencies are auctioned off, there will be a grand auction where bidders can win the right to form the government. There will be a Minimum Qualification Fee to form the government, as well as additional fees for every ministerial post the new government wants. The money thus collected again goes back to every citizen who bothered to vote…….

Turnip and Charkha (interrupting): But QI, your suggestions, apart from ensuring that every citizen has an equal share of the monetary pie, so to speak, actually make democracy in-in-infructuous, and will only lead to the complete corruption of democracy. Do you realise what this means? That people are paid for their votes, that their votes will actually be bought, with no thought to issues or governance or performance. That parliamentary support for government formation and ministerial berths will all be paid for and these democratic assets will be traded like in any other market, that there will be no accountability, no focus on development and governance and that elected representatives and ministers will now seek to recover the money spent on these various auctions … ……wait a minute, isn’t that exactly…….

(Very, Very Long Pause)

Turnip: Ummmm, thank you for watching the Crapola News Network.

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Life seems to be getting back to normal. Almost. The blogging-Twittering-texting frenzy has reduced. Excitable news anchors desperately seek their next fix of sensationalism. The talking heads have all but disappeared. The bereaved are trying to get on with their lives. And after yesterday’s rally in Mumbai, it seems that as citizens, we are done with venting.

Sure, there is a lot of energy and anger out there. The question is, can it be harnessed? I am quite certain that politicians would have heaved a sigh of relief last night, after the Mumbai rally. They wouldn’t be very wrong in thinking that now that the rally was over, the collective anger would dissipate, and over time, the slivers of individual anger would subside. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to anticipate that when we go to the polls, it would still be business as usual. In other words, we would still vote on the basis of language, caste and religion. And please take my word for it, that is exactly what will happen.

Unless this momentum is maintained. And not only maintained, but harnessed and channelised. In the past week, we have seen unprecedented outpourings of anger, our legendary apathy momentarily set aside for a show of solidarity and some long overdue politician-bashing. All of which culminated in yesterday’s rally. It warms the cockles of my heart and all that but does little to change my cynicism. Tell me, is there a single actionable point after all this sloganeering?

There have been various suggestions made. Someone has talked about 49-0 and our duty to vote. Others have talked about amending the constitution. Some have talked about not paying taxes. Others have talked about scaling down the security cover that politicians enjoy. Some have called for war with Pakistan and others have called for more stringent laws. But in all of this, is there one thing that an ordinary citizen can take as a starting point and say “yes….this is what I can do…this is how I can contribute…this is how I can make a difference”?

There is. The only thing that matters and that can make a difference is your vote. Go and register yourselves. If you are already a voter, make bloody sure you vote. And make sure that everyone you know also votes. And please, please, please – for once in your life, try not to vote as a Maratha or as a Kappu or as a Malyalee or as a Dalit or as a Muslim – vote as a citizen of this entire country. Vote as a stakeholder. Vote as if your life depended on it.

Because it does.

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PS:

1. For assistance in voter registration, please visit www.jaagore.com, or for those in Maharashtra, www.ceo.maharashtra.gov.in (Hat Tip: Indianhomemaker)

2. 49-O is not applicable because the government has not amended the Representation of the People Act to include that option. Since the political class will not like to see this through – it would be like axing one’s own foot – we need to do something. Please visit www.adrindia.org for this.

3. 60% of the NSG cadre provides security to politicians. This needs to stop immediately. Such security should be limited to the President, the PM and the Cabinet. That’s it. And even that’s a lot. This is part of a larger problem, where politicians live in an India different from the one we live in. For the more legally-inclined readers out there, can there be a PIL filed on this issue?