Somewhere above the Lok Kalyan Marg Metro Station
The Great Leader was worried. The year was coming to an end and things were not looking good. His party had just lost three state assembly elections.
“Kya lagta hai?” he asked, to no one in particular.
“Acche din aane waale hain, sir,” someone in the room shouted.
“Oh yes, oh yes,” smiled the Great Leader. “I know that.”
“But when?” asked someone else in the room.
“By 2022, for sure,” replied the Great Leader.
“2022?” asked another one.
“Yes, in my second term.”
“But are you sure you will win a second term?” asked the former great leader who had now been relegated to the Margdarshak Mandal.
“I have never lost an election that I have fought,” smirked the Great Leader with admirable confidence.
“Well, how about the three elections that the party lost recently?” asked another leader who had been relegated to the Margdarshak Mandal.
“Mmmm,” said the Great Leader. “For the record, I have fought only those elections which the party has won. And this is not a press conference, I don’t need to answer all the questions.”
“Talking about a press conference,” said the party president, “It’s time we have one. The kid seems to be killing it. Also, the media has now started calling you mouni baba, the silent one. We need to do something about that.”
“Press conference?” asked the Great Leader, his eyebrows raised.
“Don’t worry, saheb,” replied the full-time bureau chief and the part-time finance minister. “I will vet the questions in advance.”
“Then it’s okay,” said the Great Leader, the smile returning to his face.
“It will be totally like the interaction that you had with PJ, with a lot of feel-good questions asked,” said the bureau chief.
“I loved the one where he asked how I manage to work 18 hours a day. Make sure you repeat that one,” said the Great Leader.
“For sure,” replied the bureau chief. “We will also throw in one or two tough questions to make sure it doesn’t sound entirely scripted.”
“Tough questions?” asked the Great Leader.
“Don’t worry, sir. The answers will be there on the teleprompter, you just need to read them out.”
“Oh, that I can do anytime. Reading out pieces of paper is my real strength. You remember the notebandi speech I gave on TV. People still remember it with great fondness.”
“Yes sir, yes sir,” everyone said at the same time.
“Aur kya karna hai (What else do we need to do)?” asked the Great Leader.
“Well sir, the acche din formula is not working,” said the party president.
“We haven’t been able to deposit ₹15 lakh in every bank account. Or provide jobs for youth. Or provide farmers with an adequate compensation for what they produce. The banks continue to be in a weak position. The GST is in a mess. The ill effects of notebandi are still around. And you don’t listen to people…” said the former Great Leader.
He continued shouting as security guards pulled him from the room.
“Such lies,” said the bureau chief.
“I know,” replied the party president.
“Good riddance,” the Great Leader said. “Bureau chief, next time around, please vet in advance what people want to say, only then can we have a heart to heart discussion.”
“Yes sir, for sure.”
“Well I know things haven’t worked out very well. But what is the need to exaggerate them. Buddha sathiya gaya hai (The old man has totally lost it),” said the Great Leader.
“So, tell me what can we do to win the 2019 elections?” asked the Great Leader.
“We need to go back to the tried and the tested,” said the party president.
“Something which has always worked for us,” said the bureau chief.
“Saugandh raam ki khate hain, mandir wahi banayenge,” came the chant from somewhere in the room.
“Ye to kewal jhanki hai, Kaashi Mathura baanki hai,” came another chant.
“Tilak Tarazu aur Talwaar, inko maaro joote chaar,” came another chant.
“’Thakur buddhi, Yadav bal, jhandu ho gaya Janata Dal,” came another chant.
“Who was that?” shouted the Great Leader, as the room fell silent.
“It was me,” came a sheepish reply.
“Who are you?”
“Oh, I am a junior artist.”
“Yes. I was simply hired to shout slogans, which I did. Now where is my money? My ₹15 lakh?” asked the junior artist as the security guards forcefully pulled him out of the room.
“Sometimes I wonder, what will we do if the temple ever gets made?” said the bureau chief.
“Oh, there are other temples as well,” said the party president. “We can simply rake them up.”
The Great Leader got up and looked out of the window. The sun was setting. He took out his phone and started clicking pictures of the setting sun. A little bit of photoshop could make a setting sun looking like a rising one, he was telling himself.
“How different is a picture from a country?” he asked himself.
Meanwhile, outside the room.
The junior artist was talking to the former Great Leader, without really recognising him.
“That’s a lovely get-up you have got there,” the junior artist told the former Great Leader. “Makes you look totally like that politician … I forget his name.”
The former Great Leader just smiled back.
“You look hungry,” said the junior artist. “Take this ₹100 and go have a nice bread pakoda. It’s very cold out there.”
“Chalo, at least someone thinks I am doing a good job of something,” the former Great Leader thought as the junior artist got up and walked out of the room.