Disclaimer: Names, characters, businesses, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This is a series about what would happen to our country if she ever elected a lousy government. God forbid this happens.
It was a hot mid-May day in Delhi, and Wormtail sat on his porch, entertaining a bunch of journalists. He was a happy man today. Just the previous evening, he was sworn in as the foreign minister of India. The journalists too had waited for this day and were busy massaging his ego. Lutyens Delhi felt like one big happy family that morning, with the usual Lutyens crowd smiling at each other and hugging each other without being their usual bitchy selves.
Wormtail didn’t quite know if he could offer the bootlickers anything substantial that morning. The high command hadn’t sent any instructions as of now, so Wormtail spoke little. Things would be decided later in the day, at the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (PM, HM, FM, RM, and EAM). The timing of the meeting hadn’t been decided, for obvious reasons. Wormtail waited patiently. The call finally came at one in the afternoon. “The prince has woken up,” a servant told him on the other end. “He’s getting ready. You can start making your way to Lok Kalyan Marg.”
In less than a minute, Wormtail was on the move. And since the prime minister’s residence was a stone’s throw away, his convoy drove into 7LKM less than three minutes after he had gotten off the phone. Wormtail was proud that he was the first one to reach. These little gestures which put obedience and servitude on full display, were always appreciated by the family. But as Wormtail walked into the familiar living room, he was surprised to find that the rest of them were already seated. The lawyer from Mylapore smiled at him politely. He had been allotted the defense portfolio this time around, and Wormtail was sure that he had already begun scheming about how he would expand his billion-dollar global empire. The moneybag from Bangalore who had stood by the family during every crisis, twirled his mustache. The prince couldn’t have wished for a better finance minister, Wormtail thought approvingly. And strategically seated right next to the prime minister’s chair, close enough to whisper things into his ear but with enough gap not to draw undue attention, was the wily Gujarati who had been the family’s key strategist for decades. He was the new home minister. Four grown men with enough acumen and resources to achieve literally anything under the sun, waited like servants for the prince to finish his morning business, bathe, get dressed, and emerge from behind the curtain.
It was only at quarter to two in the afternoon that the government began its business of the day. The prince finally emerged and took his seat. His little poodle followed him inside, and the first few minutes of the meeting were spent in the prince smiling dumbly and caressing it. The four grown men were also forced to smile dumbly and watch the prince caress the poodle. Then the prince looked up and said, “Let us make this quick. I’m not feeling very well.” The four grown men immediately knew that the prince was terribly hungover from the post-swearing-in after party, but their faces didn’t betray the fact that they were all aware of this.
The Bangalore moneybag began, “Sir, we need to give some leeway to the ministers, especially our allies, to fill their coffers. The dry spell has been quite long this time.”
“Quite right,” Wormtail quipped.
“Done,” said the prince. “Anything else?”
“You shall do no such thing,” a forceful voice said from the door.
Everyone turned towards the door, and there in all her glory, stood the matriarch. The four grown men stood up slowly with a glow on their faces, as if they were undergoing a spiritual experience. Could it really be? Had the matriarch really reemerged from her retirement (on the first day itself), and decided to be part of their meeting?
The matriarch slowly walked up to the prince. The prince stood up. She placed her palm on his cheek and said, “You look pale, son. Go on, get a Thai massage or something. In the evening, mommy will whip up a big bowl of pasta.”
“Ok mommy,” the prince giggled, unable to hide his excitement. He turned around and made his way out, with the poodle following closely behind. The matriarch now sat on the prime minister’s seat. She said softly, “Gentlemen, you are my closest confidantes. What I tell you will not leave this room. Now listen carefully.”
“Forget what the allies say right now. Forget what the opposition says right now. What we will implement will ensure that we are never thrown out of power again. Everyone will fall in line.” The four men listened with rapt attention. They were loving this.
“There are three kinds of media, as you all know,” she went on. “Our people, those who try to be objective, and those who are blatantly against us. Keep our folks happy gentlemen, give them foreign trips, advertisements, whatever you need to do. Now with the objective ones, threaten them and tell them that we will bring about draconian laws to end their objectivity. And with those who hate us, do what you need to do and make them shut shop. In the next one month, before Maharashtra and Haryana go to polls, we need a full-fledged movement in the country against EVMs, so that we can return to the ballot. Returning to the ballot would mean returning to our winning ways forever.”
“What about the election commission? How will we fix them?” asked the Mylapore lawyer.
“You will,” the matriarch shot back. “You and Wormtail have made careers out of fixing judges and benches, use your skills now.”
The wily Gujarati strategist had remained quiet until now. He cleared his throat and said “Madam, election commissions and courts can be taken care of. The question is who will take care of white beard, black beard, their state governments, the khaki shorts, and crores of their supporters? As you know, they got more votes than we did. We are here by sheer luck. Who will stop them from taking to the streets and taking to social media to expose our plan?”
“That’s where you come in,” the matriarch said. “The agencies are in your hands. Use them fully. Throw them in jail, make them run from one court to another, frame them for terror. But not like the last time when we just gave them a taste of it. This time, do it with the intent of finishing them entirely.”
(…To be continued.)