This is a political satire. If you are offended by political satire – please don’t read any further. The action takes place in a fictitious country somewhere in Asia. All the characters and events are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real characters is purely coincidental.
Read ACT 1, Scene 1 for background information.
Read ACT 1, Scene 2 & 3
Read ACT II
Sometime in March 2011
Lady Maindhi’s residence at 10 Lokpath
Plumberji: Good Morning Lady Maindhi. Did you wish to see me madam?
Lady Maindhi: (irritatingly) Yes Plumberji. What is this nonsense going on about corruption in the country? I am being told that the Supreme Court has started asking silly questions about spectrum allocation, commonwealth games, and some foreign accounts. Since when have the courts bothered about such trivial things? Don’t they have anything better to do?
Plumberji: I beg your pardon madam but our chosen people for some jobs seem to have gone overboard and now the media and the opposition parties have got some whiff of the situation.
Lady Maindhi: What nonsense? We had placed very trusted people in charge. Mumble Singh suggested the name of that raja for telecom and Golmali has been the chief of the Olympic Association for as long as I can remember. They have done no corruption. All the money they raised through spectrum sale and contracts for stadia has been fully accounted for and every rupee deposited in our accounts. And, of course, in the process if they have skimmed a few rupees off the top, should it really worry the courts? Ask Bahuji and she will confirm that what I am saying about Golmali is true. After all she is one great book-keeper. You remember when her father-in-law was a chief Minister. It was she who managed all the books. Tell the media to speak to her. As for the telecom guy, he is too daft to even understand what skimming-off-the top means.
Plumberji: Yes madam. But the problem is that the auditors have done some calculations according to which the loss in spectrum sale is a huge number that I cannot even write down on one piece of paper. Similarly the loss in hosting the games has been estimated to run to some billions. It seems our Income Tax department has been snooping upon some Nadia dame whose telephone conversations have been taped. I hear she has been promising heaven and earth to all and sundry. The opposition is asking for answers and won’t permit the Parliament to function.
Lady Maindhi: Oh Plumberji, you are so tiresome. Anyway, isn’t the IT department under you? How did they do such a stupid thing without your knowledge? And as for the Parliament, what difference does it make if it works or not? When has the Parliament done anything even when it functions? These opposition wallahs are just a bunch of buffoons. Throw a few crumbs to them and see how they will crawl. Go and do it at once. You know whom to use for this purpose. Speak to Kadaksingh’s sidekick, Dumbersingh who will arrange everything. Also talk to that Dotty Bukbuk and tell her to shed some crocodile tears on TV. That should soothe some hearts.
Plumberji: Madam, it is not just the opposition. It seems a new beast called civil society has suddenly taken birth. It is a very strange animal. At its head is an old demonetized Anna coin in a dhoti-kurta, while the rest of its body is made of thousands of clones wearing clth caps and claiming to be Anna coins too. This animal is threatening to launch a country-wide agitation if all the skimmers-off-the-top are not put in jail.
Lady Maindhi: But I thought the Anna coins had been taken out of circulation more than fifty years ago. How come they are still around? Why don’t you just put this beast in jail and be done with it? What is so difficult about it?
Plumberji: But madam, this animal cannot be put in jail. It is the size of a behemoth and no jail is large enough to contain it. We have to do something about it before it gets out of our control.
Lady Maindhi: Ok. If you are so disturbed then throw that raja and his rani into jail. Even dump Golmali there. Anyway he suffers from dementia and cannot remember his own name. If you need to round up a few more people you can throw a few of the Secretaries and under-Secretaries and some businessmen in there too. Only make sure that the really important ones are not touched.
Plumberji: Like, madam?
Lady Maindhi: Look, I don’t want you to bring any harm to my Aamdani brothers. Especially the older one! I have so much reliance on his expertise in creating wealth from nowhere. He was very well trained by his father. Do you know how close he had become to my mother-in-law? She did nothing without his permission. Unfortunately, the younger one has gone astray. He has made some very silly friends and married a has-been starlet. That is why he has been throwing rocks at some Miss Universe bimbo. But still, in his father’s memory, I’d like to protect him. You can haul up some of his executives and give them the treatment but do not harm him.
Plumberji: As you say madam. But the head of this civil society beast has threatened to go on indefinite fast if we do not bring in a piece of legislation and appoint an ombudsman that will oversee corruption in the whole country. They want to call him a LOKPAL.
Lady Maindhi: LOKPAL! Why would they like to have a caretaker for my road?
Plumberji: Not your road madam. The Lokpal will be a central authority that will have powers of investigator, prosecutor, judge and executioner.
Lady Maindhi: Now here is what I want you to do:
Throw that raja and his rani into jail.
Give his job to Kapti Sybil. He will make all the figures that you cannot write on a piece of paper vanish into thin air and show that the loss is one big zero. Next, unleash that Doggy from my kennel and let him loose upon this new beast. He will tear it to shreds in no time.
Tell our pet columnists and editors to start a campaign discrediting the move by the head of this beast. Call upon people like the over-bloated editor of Outrageous view and his supercilious, smirking namesake of Domestic Times to write scathing articles and editorials on the proposed fast. Start a blitz on our pet 24×7 TV channels and let our spokespersons Phoney Itwari, Jhanjhat Jhadu, with some guidance from Dotty Bukbuk, the screaming Behosh and her blinking husband throw every kind of accusation on this beast and discredit it completely. You see it will self-destruct in no time.
Now go and put this whole operation into active mode.
Sometime in April 2011
No. 10, Lokpath
Meeting going on between Mumble Singh, Plumberji and Lady Maindhi
Lady Maindhi:: Mumble Singh, I am told the crowds are becoming bigger and bigger at the site of the fast.
Mumble Singh: Yes madam. The old geezer is proving quite a draw, and attracting a lot of young people to his cause. We have tried to dissuade them gently not to be swayed by what he says, but so far it does not seem to have worked.
Lady Maindhi: What do you think we should do? Maybe you should offer to resign. Our Baabaa can take over. He is young like these crowds. I am sure he will be able to strike a chord with them.
Mumble Singh: If you think so madam, I’m most willing to step aside and let Baabaa handle the situation. After all he will have to do it one day. But are you sure this is the right time? Young people are most unpredictable. Also the image of our government is not very bright. You have put the Telecom minister and Golmali in jail. A number of senior bureaucrats and noted business barons are breaking bread with them. The Auditors and accountants are dead against us. Many more scandals are waiting to be exposed. Do you think we should let these burdens fall on the young, delicate shoulders of Baabaa?
Lady Maindhi: Maybe you are right. So what do you suggest?
Mumble Singh: Madam let us send Kapti Sybil to talk to this village fool. Sybil will twist him with honeyed words and promise him everything. Oh he can be no match for that wily fox. Let him promise that we will make a joint drafting committee with five of their members and five from our side. Plumberji here will chair this committee. Sybil, Chewing Gum, Oily Moily and Halfman will be the other members. Let them nominate any five from their side. I am sure that with Sybil and Chewing Gum they will make no progress at all and after the tempers have cooled and all the agitators have gone back to their homes, Plumberji will announce a breakdown in talks and produce a draft bill that has already been prepared by me. Under this bill we will prosecute everyone who reports any corrupt act while ensuring that nobody of consequence from the government is harmed by it. Even the opposition will go along with us. After all they too have the deepest desire to serve the nation.
Lady Maindhi: Do you think it will work? What if that country bumpkin goes on another indefinite fast?
Mumble Singh: Madam you have forgotten how short people’s memories and interests are? I am sure civil society will see that it has been bested and in order not to look foolish again will desist from repeating its mistake.
Lady Maindhi: Well if you think so, then please put Sybil on the job right away.
Suddenly Lady Maindhi looks ill and collapses on a chair nearby.
Plumberji: (Alarmed) Madam, madam, what happened? Orre koi hai? Jol lao, doctor ke bulao.
Lady Maindhi: Oh I feel unwell. Suddenly my legs seemed to collapse under me. There is a sharp pain in my neck, and my head seems to be reeling. Please leave me now. I need some fresh air and rest.
29th August 2011
No. 7 Ratrace Road, Prime Minister’s Office
Mumble Singh is sitting behind his desk. He is looking quite exhausted. The strain is visible and his face is chalk-white.
Enter Monty Spudseller.
Monty Spudseller: Phew boss! That was a close one. For a moment I thought you had blown it and nothing would save us. Seeing those crowds surging all over the grounds, and the support this one Anna was getting across the land, I thought our time was up. I truly thought so. In fact I had told my wife to start packing as we would have to head straight for Washington where there is always a value for my services.
Mumble Singh: Look at me. I have never been so taxed. These last 13 days have been the longest in my life. I had to resort to all kinds of subterfuge, chicanery and plain silence to thwart the members of this civil society. But they seem to have anticipated all our moves and cut through us like a swarm of locusts. Even I thought that I had overplayed my hand and I may have to quit and retire into the moonlight. You at least can still go back to Washington. Where will I go? Even that humble apartment in the North-East is a bogus address and I have never paid any rent. The landlord will not let me even enter. Eventually, I may also have to take asylum in America. I hope that Bush remembers how much I flattered him and told him that all our countrymen love him madly. But, then I recall how mentally deficient he is. By now I am sure he has forgotten all about me and this country or even about Iraq.
Monty Spudseller: Quite so. But now don’t you think the situation is under control?
Mumble Singh: For the time being, yes. You see, it was I who suggested that we form a committee and appoint five of our ministers on it. The idea was to string the civil society members along and then ditch the whole process. That part of the script has worked beautifully. Plumberji and his committee stand completely exposed as a bunch of cheats. These five were the closest threats to my continuance as the Prime Minister. Now they are neutralized. Baabaa will always remain a threat, but I had to plan my move with him with utmost caution.
Monty Spudseller: I don’t quite follow how you have removed his threat.
Mumble Singh: You are still a kid. Fortunately Wahe Guru came to my aid. He struck Lady Maindhi with a dreadful ailment which has forced her to go abroad for immediate treatment. Naturally Binaca with her husband accompanied her. Baabaa too had to go and keep an eye on his brother-in-law. You never know when he might make Lady Maindhi sign some papers that would give him control over the Swiss accounts. These scrap merchants can never be trusted.
With the Maindhi clan out of my hair, I could plan my course without hindrance. First I let Sybil and Chewing Gum detain and send the Anna to jail. That, I knew, would create immense anger against them. Then I ordered his unconditional release the same evening. I let him have his Grounds where he could stage his fast. For the next eight days I let him stew in his own juice. You see, I know he has a lot of resilience, having been in the army for some years. When I felt the time had come I allowed some middlemen like a model-turned-godman to intervene. This was all eyewash. These middlemen were made to talk to Plumberji, Kapti Sybil and Halfman. I made it seem as if the government was willing to negotiate. Every time a breakthrough appeared to happen, I’d scuttle it. The masterstroke was my intervention in the two houses of parliament. All were expecting that I’d make a big announcement. But I kept them guessing and ultimately made it clear that the demands of the civil society would not be met. The fast was now entering a crucial phase. There was desperation on both sides. Again luck helped me. Baabaa’s first cousin, the estranged son of his uncle, put the civil society draft before the speaker as a private member’s bill. This was a godsend. I immediately informed Baabaa about this and he went berserk. “How dare that fat buffoon try to steal a march over me? I’ll show him his place. Tomorrow I’ll make an intervention in Parliament that will make history. Then we will see who becomes the true heir of the family throne!” he said.
Well, then you know what happened next. Baabaa made his intervention. I had already got it drafted for him and all he had to do was to read it from his ipad. And what a performance he gave? Clenching his fists and speaking as if he was declaring war on an enemy, he played the role of the pugnacious brat to the hilt.
That speech of his, my dear Monty, has finally removed any remaining aura he may have had. You should have seen the outrage in the public. People were marching from all over the city to his house to express their anger. Cleverly, I arranged to shut down the Metro stations near his residence. That caused more inconvenience to the public and built more resentment against him. Today I can say with confidence that Baabaa will not be any threat to me for the rest of the term of my government. His mother, if she returns from wherever she is getting treated, will not be able to tell me to keep the seat warm for her darling son. Changing the sheepskins every week! Let us see now who has the last laugh!! Ha! Ha! Ha!