Garam sitting and Dude were sitting in Congress Alpha's new office which had been donated by Naqli Wadia. They were going through the layouts of the newspaper Ads designed by 'Bakwas India'. Just then Lala entered. His face was red and he looked very agitated.
'Garam Singh, I have just received an important piece of information which I thought I should immediately share with you,' gasped Lala plonking himself in a chair.
'Easy, Lala, easy. Please tell me why you are so excited.'
'Samaj Sewak is planning the grandmother of all rallies.'
'When?' asked Dude.
'On August 20th ' just five days before the elections.'
'So what, Lalaji? What is there to panic about?' Dude asked gently.
'You don't understand. He is going to collect a crowd of around 90,000 people. This will be a massive show of strength to prove to the public in general and media in particular how popular Samaj Sewak and Janata Khichdi are. He is slated to announce 20 populist schemes like free education for every one, rice to be made available at ninety three paise per kilo, two laddoos extra per child in the mid-day meal scheme, free passes for the India Pakistan match to be held in Ulta Pradesh next month etc., etc. The entire media will be there and they will really go to town publicizing that event,' Lala said.
'Lala is absolutely right, Dude. You are a bachha in the political arena. You don't understand these things. Just days before the elections if SS manages to hold a rally of around 90,000 people and announce sops, you can sure that the public will simply lap it up like badam kheer.'
'As of now all the opinion polls are indicating that we are running neck and neck. One rally like this and we'll be reduced to also-rans. We have to do something to ensure that the rally fails,' Lala said.
'But what can we do?' asked Dude.
'Where is he getting 90,000 people and how?' asked Garam Singh.
'From what I have heard,' Lala said, 'He is bringing villagers from near by areas in trucks. Each villager will get five hundred rupees, one shawl and a packet of 'long last' condoms free.'
'Can we not hire all the trucks and keep them with us? No trucks, no rally,' said Dude.
'No chance of that. The lorry drivers' union is supporting Samaj Sewak. They are planning for a price hike and SS has promised he will meet this demand.'
'Suppose we trigger off some violence in the rally itself. Now that both Chakku and Pyaare are with us we can put their talents to good use.'
'No chance, Dude. The security is supposed to be the tightest ever. The CRPF, CISF, BSF and SS's personal body guards the Purple pythons will be there with their AK-47s, rocket launchers and Molotov Cocktails. Chakku and Pyaare will be simply smashed,' said Lala.
'Why don't we also hold a rally the same day?' suggested Dude.
'But, Dude, we have neither the financial clout nor the Government machinery to support us. Where will we get the trucks to get the villagers? And what about security? Our gang of Chaku and Pyaare will not be able to control a crowd of 90,000,' Lala said.
Then are we going to just twiddle our thumbs and allow them to steal a march over us?' asked Dude.
'No, no I am not saying that. But we'll have to think of something better than your fancy ideas.'
The three of them guzzled beer and thought of suitable strategies to encounter the menace posed by SS's rally.
Suddenly Dude jumped up.
'I've got it! I've got it!' he declared.
'What's it?' inquired both Garam singh and Lala together.
'Listen,' Dude began and explained his plan.
'Bahut badiya,' Lala nodded.
'Yes, I like it,' agreed Garam Singh. 'Dude, you have once again come to our rescue. I think your idea will succeed. You just go ahead and make all the arrangements. And remember the news should not be leaked. We should take everyone by surprise. If SS comes to know he'll either postpone the rally or simply changes the venue. We'll make all the arrangements well in advance and a day before the rally we'll declare our plans. By then it will be too late for SS to do anything. If he backtracks he will lose face.'
A day before the rally the entire cabinet of SS was at the airport to receive him. He was returning after a two week tour to Kyrgistan where he had gone to discuss joint venture possibilities. The tour had been an extremely successful one. They had finalized a joint venture project on Bhelpuri Making and a consultancy assignment on 'Corruption in Government'. Kyrgistan had just attained democracy and the Government was absolutely new as far as corruption was concerned. As per the agreement SS's Government would set up a separate cell in Kyrgistan which would give hands-on advice to the Government on the various nuances of corruption.
As SS got down from the plane Laddoo rushed to him with ten garlands. SS was a tall, extremely thin man of around seventy five years of age. He had sparse hair and hardly any shoulders. Laddoo, after touching his mentor's feet fifteen times, whispered in his ear. 'Sir, there's a major problem I would like to discuss with you. It is confidential and very urgent.'
'Come in my car. You can brief me on the way home.'
In the car Laddoo said, 'Sir, Garam Singh is organizing a rally at the Boat Club tomorrow.'
'Tomorrow! But that is the day of our rally and the Boat Club is opposite Ram Lila grounds, the venue of our rally. Has he gone mad? With the kind of arrangements we have made no one will turn up at his rally.'
'No, Sir, the picture is quite different.'
'Don't talk in riddles. What do you mean different? Haven't you organized everything ' trucks, volunteers, villagers, shawls, hundred rupee notes, 'long last' condoms, security?'
'All that had been organized, sir, but'
'But what? Come out with it, you ass!'
'Garam Singh's rally is going to be slightly different.'
'What do you mean by slightly different? Is he organizing a sammelan of Hijdas?'
'Not exactly that sir but he has roped in Makhmal Malini, , Shacrook Khan, Mallika Sherbat, Priyanka Khopdi and Aadha Naan Swami.'
'Have all these clowns joined Congress Alpha?'
'No sir. They are going to present a cultural programme and I an afraid'.'
' that people will come to our rally but slip away to watch these filmy buffoons sing, strip, dance and yell?
'Y' Yes' sir.'
'Laddo, I think you are gradually becoming senile. It is high time you retired.'
'No buts, you idiot. I, Samaj Sewak, the longest serving Chief Minister in Mera Bharat Mahaan', will be addressing the biggest rally ever organized and you mean to say that people will flock to see a bunch of whores and pimps jumping around? You are mad, completely insanel!'
'Yes, sir '. I mean, no sir' I mean s'. sorry sir'?
'Stop worrying about all these things and concentrate on making the arrangement. I want the press to be there in full strength. Give them VIP treatment. I want good coverage. Also, get the entire proceedings videotaped. We'll distribute these cassettes during the final phase of the campaign.'
On the day of the rally, by ten to ten, the Ramlila grounds were packed. The rally was to begin sharp at ten. For some reason the Chief Minister was held up. By ten thirty the crowed started getting restive. To control the crowd, Laddoo ordered the distribution of condoms, shawls, and finally 500 rupee notes. By eleven the distribution was over. At eleven fifteen the CM entered to a standing ovation. After the welcome address was over, Laddoo invited the CM to address the gathering.
SS walked up to the podium, waited for the applause to die down, cleared his throat and began speaking: 'Dear brothers and sisters, today is a day of records. This is the largest gathering ever assembled on any occasion. You and I have created history and made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. I am also announcing 25 packages for the benefit of the common man. This is the longest list of welfare measures ever announced. Moreover, I am going to address you for five hours which will also be a record. So, brothers and sisters, left us salute God and begin.'
Just then from the Boat Club grounds strains of very loud music could be heard. SS's voice was completely drowned in the music. As SS kept gesticulating, Makhmal's voice could be heard:
Back bak karne laga
Yeh buddha kich kich karne laga
Tum isko do vote na
Isse tum lo note na
Bak bak karne laga
Yeh ghonchu kich kich karne laga.'
There was a huge commotion. People could could be heard screaming. 'Yaar, Makhmal Malini is singing.' 'And see, Mallika Sherbat and Priyanka Khopdi ' both are in bikinis.' 'Shacrook Khan and Aadha Naan Swami are also there,' 'Chalo bhai chalo dekhte hain' 'Haan, haan chalo'
The huge gathering got up as if mesmerized, turned around and started walking towards the boat club. The security personnel tried to stop the crowd but they were completely outnumbered. Within ten minutes there was not a single person in sight ' only Laddoo and the security men were seen running helter-skelter.
Samaj Sewak continued screaming in the microphone begging and cajoling the crowd to come back.
At the Boat Club, after the crowd had settled down, Garam Singh appeared on the stage and announced, 'Ladies and gentlemen, please lend me your ears. This is the time for the first political break. I have come to introduce myself and my friends to you. Please vote for us and I promise you I'll organize such rallies every month.'
After five minutes Shacrook Khan and Priyanka Khopdi came on to the stage and started singing and dancing.
In the next political break Dude addressed the rally followed by Lala and the rest of the stalwarts. The rally continued till midnight.
The next day Samaj Sewak was in his chamber going through the newspapers. Laddoo was sitting in a corner biting his nails.
'Just look at these headlines Laddoo, you idiot : 'Samaj Sewak's party all out for no score', 'Makhmal and company strip CM into oblivion', 'Janata Khichdi ki daal nahi gali'. And look at these photographs ' all showing packed crowds at the Boat Club on one side and empty Ram Lila grounds on the other. Even the Security force joined the Boat Club tamasha. And all because of you, you imbecile,' Samaj Sewak screamed.
'B. . . . but, sir, what could I do?.
'You donkey, you shouldn't have distributed the five hundred rupee notes, condoms and shawls in the beginning itself.'
'But, sir, the crowd was getting very restive because of the delay,'
'That delay was also organized by that scoundrel Garam Singh. At 9.45, as I was about to start for the rally, he landed at my residence with a couple of journalists in tow. He refused to budge till eleven. That bastard has really landed me in the soup. This morning the High Command phoned. He was mad with rage. He abused me left and right. He was to address our rally next week but now he has refused. Laddoo, stop biting your nails and call an emergency meeting. We have to think of a strategy to come out of this mess.'
The day of the press conference had finally dawned. The venue was Hotel Kafila. The banquet hall of the hotel was packed. The videographers and photographers had already set up lights. The placards indicated that both Indian and foreign media were fully represented. Time, Newsweak, Economist, Life, Harvard Business Review, Indian Yesterday, Ending TV, Fashion TV, Scar TV, Pee TV, Kab Tak, CNN, Animal Planet, et al were all present. The Press Conference was being telecast live on Fashion TV, Animal Planet, CNN and Pee TV. Unthonee Muni, Garib Das, Lala Dharma Seth. Moong Dal, and Fakir Chand were occupying the front row. There was tremendous expectation in the air.
Precisely at eleven a.m. Makhmal Malini entered with Dude and Garam Singh on either side. Dressed in a light pink sari, the aanchal over her head, devoid of any jewellery and with very little makeup, she looked enchanting and yes, vulnerable. She sat very demurely on the dais between Dude and Garam Singh.
Garam Singh took the mike and commenced his address, 'Brothers and sisters from Mera bharat Mahaan, America, England, Hongkong, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and the rest of the world. Today is a very sad day for Bharat Mata. It is a shameful day. Today my innocent beti Makhmal is going to tell the world her tragic tale of betrayal. It is such a shameful thing that even today we have not been rid of wanton, lecherous and lascivious scoundrels who, in order to satiate their lust, are destroying the moral fabric of our society. Even in today's enlightened times we have in our midst Ravanas, Duryodhanas and Dushasanas who are ruinming the lives of our Sitas, Savitris and Draupadis.
Today the entire world will know the name of that wretched swine who has betrayed the pure and innocent love of pyaari beti Makhmal. I beseech you, my dear friends, I beg you, I implore you to carry this saga of love, lust and betrayal to the farthest corners of the world - I plead before you to start a revolution to cleanse our society of these evil predators. Let us give this swine such exemplary punishment that it will be a lesson to all monsters of this type. For the sake of our sisters, mothers and daughters, for the sake of Mother Earth, I beg you, dear friends, please listen carefully to the sad story of dulaari beti Makhmal and start a moral Kurukshetra. With these few words I am handing over the mike to pyaari beti Makhmal.'
There was thunderous applause. Makhmal took the mike from Garam Singh, adjusted her aanchal over her head and began speaking :
'After hearing the fiery eloquence of respected Shri Garam Singhji, dear bothers and sisters, I am sure your blood must really be boiling. With the kind blessings of respected Shri Garam Singhji, today I'm going to declare the name of the swine, that wolf who has mauled both my body and my soul, the scoundrel who has not only molested my sentiments but also the feelings of Mother India.' She paused, and her voice choked. She covered her face with her handkerchief and sobbed into it.
'Dulaari beti Makhmal, please go ahead. Remember you are doing this not only for yourself but also for the sisters, mothers and daughters of Mother India.'
Makhmal wiped away her tears and tried to regain her composure.
'In an interview with CNN you had mentioned that the person who has ditched you is very powerful.' Questioned the correspondent of India Yesterday.
'Yes, he is very powerful. That is the reason why I didn't have the courage to mention his name earlier.'
'Then how come today you have picked up sufficient courage? Aren't you scared any more?' asked the reporter of Pee TV.
'Today I have realized that I am I not alone any more. There are equally powerful people to support me. And moreover now I have the sympathy of the all powerful fourth estate. The very fact that all of you have come here proves that I can count on your support.'
'Is the scoundrel who betrayed you a politician?' asked the correspondent of Time.
'Yes, yes, he is the master of the art and science of politics.'
Garam Singh who was getting very impatient said, 'Pyaari beti Makhmal, do not delay nay more. The time has come. The whole world is waiting with bated breath. Remove the mask of respectability from the monster's face.'
Makhmal turned towards Garam Singh and said, 'You are absolutely right, respected Shri Garam Singhji, the moment has come.' Then she turned towards the audience and declared, 'Brothers and sisters, please listen very carefully. What I am going to reveal to you will shock, disgust and revolt you. The rakshasa, the scoundrel, the swine, who has raped me mentally, physically and emotionally is none other than this hypocrite Garam Singh!'
There was a stunned silence for a moment and then pandemonium broke loose.
'Garam Singh!! What are you saying?' gasped the correspondent if Fashion TV.
'Garam Singh and this kind of conduct? Un . . . unbelievable,' stuttered the reporter of Animal Planet.
'Beti dulaari Makhmal! Have you gone mad?'
'Don't call me beti, you dirty bastard, you two-faced monster, you swine. After molesting me, after battering me emotionally and physically, you still call me beti! Don't you have any shame at all? You wanted me to implicate Samaj Sewak so that you could win the elections. You even bribed me to do that. But I am a pure and innocent daughter of Mother India. I cannot be untruthful. You dirty swine, you will have to pay for your crimes,' Makhmal spat out, her voice shaking with barely controlled rage.
'This is a conspiracy. She is speaking a bunch of lies,' shouted Fakir Chand, Garib Das and Moong Dal simultaneously.
There was confusion and chaos all around. Makhmal was whisked away by her bodyguards. Garam singh started screaming incoherently as the motley of media persons surged ahead and surrounded him.
On the day of the polls the weather was bright sunny. The newspapers had predicted a ninety percent voter turnout. The papers were filled with the details of Makhmal's Press Conference. The picture showing her sobbing into her designer handkerchief had caught the imagination of the paparazzi. It was splashed all over the front pages. And next to it was a photograph of Garam Singh screaming in frustrated rage. A few of the newspapers had even brought out special supplements on the Press Conference.
The News Channels were telecasting glimpses of the Press Conference ' especially the denoument, 24 X 7. Viewers' polls, spot interviews and random surveys with Makhma' sob saga as the theme had become the staple diet of almost every channel.
The CDs of the Press Conference were selling like hot cakes. Makhmal had become an international celebrity overnight. She had already been sent feelers by BBC's Channel Four. They had offered to make a documentary on her life. The film was to be scripted by Shobha Day. Penguin Bharat had also approached her for the publishing rights of her autobiography to be ghost written by none other than the Goddess of big things : Aroon Dhat teri ki Roy!!
At around eight p.m. Unthonee Muni switched on his Plasma TV. A sexy looking thing in an itsy bitsy two piece came on the screen and announced, 'Welcome, viewers to the 'Yucks Kya Election Hai'-the election special brought to you by Yucks Soap. Prannoy Coy is sponsored by Sexy Udad Dal, marketed by Totaram Marwari and Cousin Brothers, Mud Island, Bombay.' She disappeared and the screen was filled with a voluptuous lady bursting out of a T-shirt and jeans.
'Good evening, viewers to this Election Special. We have made extensive arrangements to cover all the constituencies in Ulta Pradesh. The results of a few constituencies have started trickling in and we have trends from the rest,' Prannoy Coy said.
'The trends indicate that there is a swing of 72.0909 percent in favour of Janata Khichidi and a swing of 68.7670 away from Congress Alpha. I have managed to get hold of Shri Garam Singh's private number. The phone is ringing and in a few moments we'll be able to hear the baritone of Graram Singh.'
'Hello,' Coy said. 'Mr. Garam Singh, this is Prannoy Coy from Ending TV. All the viewers are dying to hear your response. I want to ask you a couple of questions. . .' there was a funny sound at the other end of the line. It sounded uncannily like a pig with Jiggs Cholera's batata wada stuck in its throat. Suddenly all that the viewers could hear was a beep beep.
Prannoy Coy's face had turned purple and then gradually became crimson red. After around two minutes he replaced the receiver and said, 'Viewers, unfortunately we cannot give you the rather interesting and bold view of Mr. Garam Singh since we are not permitted to use four-letter words of any language. I can only tell you that Mr. Garam Singh was questioning the legitimacy of his Pyari Beti Makhmal's birth in great detail.'
Copy paused, drank some cold water, wiped his face with tissue paper and continued, 'We now bring you the trends in the various constituencies and polling booths.'
For the next one hour the viewer was subjected to an onslaught of numerical, pictorial and verbal verbiage.
Finally Coy appeared. 'Friends, I am happy to announce that we have managed to get some very important people here. To the extreme left is Fakir Chand of Congress Alpha available for comment. Dude is not to be traced, Garib Das is suffering from diarrhoea, Moong Dal from epilepsy while Lala Dharam Seth has suddenly lost his voice. Welcome, Mr. Fakir Chand, we are glad to have you with us.'
'Thank you, Mr. Coy,' Fakir Chand said. He was bleary eyed and looked utterly exhausted.
'To the right of Mr. Fakir Chand we have Mr. Doubting Thomas. He was till yesterday in Congress Alpha. This morning he joined Janata Khichidi. To his right is Mr. Ladoo Chamaar, the confidant of Mr. Samaj Sewak.
'The first question to all you gentlemena is that now that the trends reveal a thumping victory for Janata Khichdi, are you surprised? First I request Mr. Thomas to answer.
'No, no, I am not at all surprised. Congress Alpha is a bankrupt party. It has no ideology, no morals, no values. Garam Singh, its leader, is a scoundrel who deserves to be hanged . . .'
'Wait a minute,' screamed Fakir Chand jumping up. 'Don't forget, you turncoat, that till yesterday you were swearing allegiance to Congress Alpha and loyalty to Garam Singh.'
'Who are you calling a turncoat, you pimp! I know that you used to pimp for Garam Singh.'
'You rascal, you are calling me a pimp? Wait till I get my hands on you!'
Fakir Chand jumped up, tore the mike from the stand and lunged at Thomas who picked up a chair and moved forward.
'Gentlemen, gentlemen,' Prannoy Coy screamed, looking helplessly around for support. He found Laddoo hiding under the table, cowering away to glory.
Suddenly there was a sudden crash and the screen went blank.
As Unthonee stared wide-eyed a legend appeared on the screen, 'Sorry for the interruption'. And just below the legend were the following immortal words: 'This part of the programme was sponsored by Joansons' Bandaid and Red Alert Ambulance, Kabaristan Road, Jahannumpur.'
Previous Page | Continued
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