Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Bandh to Bandhs

By Rupa Gulab
(Published in Bengal Post, 13th July 2010)

As I write this, I’m thinking fondly of Marie Antoinette. At least she had the grace to offer cake to starving French peasants when bread was hard to come by. All that our opposition parties generously offered us was a nation-wide bandh to protest against the price rise. We don’t even get cake crumbs! And now they’re blushing with pride because the bandh was an astounding success despite the fact that the prices weren’t rolled back. Here’s why:

• Very few humble citizens stepped out on the streets. Not because they staunchly supported the pointless bandh, oh no. They were merely cowering at home for fear of getting stoned to death by the very parties that claim to love them dearly. Countless citizens got severe flesh wounds by brutally kicking themselves for not having the foresight to stock up on beer and chips the day before. Dare I say that they deserved it?

• The nation’s economic loss was a staggering 13,000 crore (source: FICCI). Wonderful news, considering that now prices may rise even higher to make up for that shameful loss, and the opposition can call for another Bharat bandh soon – one more delightful opportunity to tell us that they care for us, yay! This time round, please do remember to stock up on beer and crunchy finger food. You have been warned.

• The opposition parties have proved beyond doubt that they are not wimps and are certainly not afraid to play with fire. Look at how fearlessly they burnt buses! And don’t you think that the colourful leaping flames burning buses cause are more spectacular than the ones that come from boring Diwali sparklers and rockets? Oooh, I’m inspired to launch an email campaign urging CEOs of all the Sivakasi fireworks factories to make miniature inflammable buses this Diwali. Come on, it’s patriotic to burn buses, right?

• I’m not that frightened of anti-State Maoists anymore. They seem almost the same as our patriotic Left and Right parties now. Honestly, after watching the violent bandh rampage on TV, I’m beginning to wonder if Maoists have infiltrated the opposition. Shouldn’t we mention this to the Union Home Minister?

• The bandh gave us a few good laughs too, particularly the TV footage of BJP leaders practically pleading to be arrested. I don’t know about you, but I was giggling helplessly while watching them smile smugly at the cameras when they were escorted to the police station by reluctant cops. I do feel a twinge of regret, though, that these arrests were just a sham. Come on, they must have pulled strings to go to jail, just to experience a beautiful Gandhiji moment. Too bad that they weren’t given rock-breaking duty like other convicts. Such a shame, considering that they’re so good at breaking bricks – take the Babri Masjid, for instance. Oh, how I wish we could keep them in jail forever! That’s the only positive way they can serve the nation.

• Finally I know who exactly to vote for in the next general election. The UPA government, of course! After watching the Left and the Right parties recklessly and gleefully destroying our nation in just one day, I shudder to think what they’d do over a period of 5 years. Also, I firmly believe that our cerebral Prime Minister Manmohan Singh understands economics better than that muscular lot! The way I look at it is, if there’s a price rise, there must be a darn good long term reason for it. Admittedly, I never understood the nuclear deal either or why Shashi Tharoor was briskly thrown out because of the IPL scam and yet Sharad Pawar was hugged and retained, but my faith in our prime minister remains unshaken.

• Frankly, unless someone comes up with an intelligent, non-destructive way to tackle this issue, we have no choice but to deal with the price rise in a positive manner. Who knows, it may be a good thing for diabetes-prone Indians. We will be forced to walk more and drive less. And to eat more raw salads instead of oily cooked food. Why, in a few months, we may actually be physically stronger, so the next time some self-righteous, begging-for-attention parties try to upset our nation with a bandh, we may be brave enough to defy it by stepping out of our homes and standing up to them!

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