Barf bags out, earplugs in. We are listening in to an august debate on a vital national issue as we write this.
We see the old familiar faces rise to their feet, gesticulate importantly, jab the air with their pudgy digits, go red in the face as they belabour a point. But we don’t hear the words they say. Because their words are non-particles of nullity: aimless inanities aimed at accruing into a cosmic vacuity that adds up to a black hole of diddly-squat.
So here before us stands the posturing pasha of a regional party. His specialty is unadulterated waffle with bits of banality thrown in. For three decades he has gotten away with serving up this vapidity supported by a bit of theatrical gesturing. “We are an ancient nation, we shall not allow petty differences to break up the fabric of our great nation.” Here he pauses so that the two and a half MPs from his party slumped in the back benches wake up to thump at their tables in a feeble attempt at support. “Madame Speaker, I shall personally pledge my life to ensure peace and harmony are restored.”
After this staggering bit of corniness the said pledger of life sits down to rest his tired mouth before he faces an afternoon session of challenging vacillation at the House of Ming, where the only decision he will be required to take is choosing between the Shark Fin Soup and the Sweet Corn Chicken.
Behold the next speaker. His specialty is doublespeak of such an astonishing standard that no one has ever been able to pin him down to anything. Not even the CAG.
So here’s a lesson in equivocation, evasion, and beating about the bush that should be taught in MBA courses. This gentleman has decided to keep all potential allies happy. Ask him if the inciters of the violence were in the wrong and he’ll say yes. Ask him if the victims had a role to play and were responsible for the violence and he’ll say yes. Ask him if he would like the shark fin soup and he’ll say yes. Er, the chicken soup, too? And he’ll say yes. Net result: two soups and two votebanks, because his specialty of jargon, doubletalk, gibberish and gobbledygook is so opaque that in six decades of speechifying no one has understood a word of anything he’s said.
Which brings us to the next speaker — a PhD in Hypocrisy. This is a man who has perfected the art of insincerity. “Our brethren,” he begins with a stomach-churning display of phony sanctimony. “Members of the House, our dear brothers and sisters are dying under bullets of hatred, losing their lives to a hail of gunfire…” Ask this speechifier if it will be the shark fin or the sweet corn chicken and he will burst into tears imagining the horror of so much boiling and, shed tears about the fowl and fish that he is about to consume in a very short time at lunch.
Then rises Mr Bluster whose trick is to rant, rave, thunder, bellow, to such a decibel level of noise that no one notices that his bullying bombast and his bumptious braggadocio camouflage a heart only set on one issue: shark fin or chicken.
And so and so forth, gentle reader. The great spectacle of our political hot and sour soup churns on.
Malavika Sangghvi is a Mumbai-based writer