Ladies-in-waiting

Rupa Gulab

You want facts – I’ll give you facts! On March 5, 2014, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari said that if his party was voted to power at the Centre, it would try to abolish most of the direct and indirect taxes to generate more revenue and reduce inflation. Well, the BJP won that election and by now most of us know that all they have generated so far is hot air, photoshopped images, and doctored tapes (apart from divisive Hindutva sloganeering, lying shamelessly appears to be a big part of the party’s warped ideology too). Inflation has shot up and so have taxes. To add to our burden, the BJP has slapped the Swachh Bharat cess and Krishi Kalyan cess (it kicks in from June 2016) on service tax as well. To be fair to Nitin Gadkari and the rest of the BJP’s large number of bariatric surgery patients, it’s pretty obvious that ‘less is more’ is not part of the party’s philosophy. I do have a question for the Dear Leader though: why torture us with heavy taxation when all he has to do is tell his wealthy friends to add to India’s coffers with cash instead of giving him extravagant presents like ridiculous monogrammed suits and joy rides in their private jets? Hello, he said ‘India First,’ didn’t he?

So yes, perhaps it’s a good thing that two powerful ladies who generously dish out freebies in the name of social welfare have retained their seats as Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Here’s to J Jayalalithaa aka Amma and Mamata Banerjee aka Didi – two big cheers, please! So what if we have no idea where they’re getting the money to give marginalised citizens, cycles, dowries, subsidised groceries, idlis, etc. That’s their problem, not ours. Since they’re both chummy with the Dear Leader, I’m guessing that the Centre may eventually have to foot the bills in return for the ladies allowing the passage of contentious Bills in Parliament.

But, hey, I’m not trashing Amma and Didi for two very good reasons. For one, with inflation and high taxation slashing my meagre savings, I may have to prostrate myself at Amma’s feet like her party members frequently do (which is perhaps why they don’t go in for bariatric surgery like BJP party members) and beg for affordable idlis and sambar too. She’s lovely to people who bow and scrape. Ingratiating myself with Didi won’t be so easy, though. I’d have to burn a CPI(M) office or two or even beat up a few Lefties to prove that I’m not a Maoist, and I don’t think I can stomach violence of any kind. 

The other reason is that there’s a good chance either of them may become India’s next prime minister, and I say this with feeling: any party is a better option than the BJP!  That both Amma and Didi are authoritarian does not put me off one bit: the Dear Leader has already given us a dose of the repressive Gujarat model, and after that anything in comparison would feel like freedom. It would be fantastic to see the ABVP (BJP’s young bigots-in-waiting wing) get a taste of their own ghastly medicine.

As for secularism and pluralism (the BJP’s least favourite words), I don’t know too much about Amma, but Didi certainly makes a grand show of delivering. Well, she’s learnt that it is her only strong card – after she left the NDA many years ago, of course (oh dear, I’ve let out another of her little secrets).Given a choice between the two as India’s next prime minister, I’d probably choose Didi. Mainly because I would love to hear the strains of Rabindra Sangeet drown out the sounds of YoYo Honey Singh on Delhi’s streets. It’s settled then. Didi for next prime minister, okay?

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JUNE 2016