Editor's note: The following article is a work of satire.
Chief Minister of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy had a cute smile on his face on Sunday as he looked to his left and right. He was about to commence the emergency cabinet meeting he had called for to discuss and approve the Common Minimum Programme for the coalition government of his Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress.
My source — I call him Deep Throat — watched the proceedings through a keyhole in the massive ornate door of the Cabinet Hall and revealed what went on.
Here's the story as revealed by Deep Throat.
The proceedings were all sugary sweet but only till the last item of the Common Minimum Programme was thrown up for discussion, when Congress ministers exploded in anger and trooped out in a collective huff. But first, the good news.
This is how Kumaraswamy began the meeting: "I am mighty proud of the great progress Karnataka has made in just one month since we came to power. But I cannot for the life of me understand why this motormouth BS Yeddyurappa is making all sorts of allegations and jumping up and down like a channapatna toy. I am happy, however, to present to you at last the Common Minimum Programme. This will help us shut the doors on all evils and open new vistas to transform Kannadigas into the most contented species on earth."
"Hip, hip hurray!" yelled the ministers. The meeting was so hunky-dory, but wait till you read the whole story.
The first item on the Common Minimum Programme was 'equitable distribution of portfolios'. A JD(S) minister stood up, took off what seemed like a cross between a Gandhi topi and a tennis cap and doffed it with reverence before saying: "We are pleased with the just allocation of portfolios made by the honourable chief minister in ways that will make Machiavelli gasp in his grave. For instance, Shri Kumaraswamy pacified two contenders for the industries portfolio by dividing it into the 'indus' and 'tries' for them. Similarly, he nicely sliced up labour into 'lab' and 'our'. The best example, of course, is the bifurcation of Bengaluru Development into 'dev' and 'elopment' and allocation of the latter to Shri DK Shivakumar. Even the world's tallest statesmen are breathless with amazement over this..."
Minister of Elopement
"And I am breathless with shock,' Shivakumar said in disgust, interrupting him. His eyes were red. "My portfolio is getting auto-corrected in newspapers and WhatsApp to 'elopement'. Misunderstanding it, Hindu outfits are sending me SMSs, threatening to make kheema of me."
A Congress minister could be heard joking: "But you stopped elopements of MLAs, ha ha."
"No jokes," Kumaraswamy said with a murderous scowl. "May I take this opportunity to announce that I have accepted a suggestion by Shri Shivakumar to build a permanent resort — posh like the Buckingham Palace and impregnable like Fort Knox — outside Bengaluru for potential JD(S) and Congress defectors. This will save us cash that might otherwise go to resorts in Andhra and Kerala."
Words like "genius" and "marvellous" could be heard over the noise of desk-thumping by ministers of both parties. Shivakumar twirled his moustache.
Expose one scam a week!
"The next item in the Common Minimum Programme," Kumaraswamy continued, "is that we should dig up a minimum of one scam a week against Narendra Modi. As our learned colleagues are surely aware, Modi never stops beating his own drum to call himself an archangel of integrity. Modi's stooges claim that the very mention of corruption gives him goosebumps. This myth must be debunked and..."
The chief minister stopped when a large hand, hairy like a gorilla's and with diamond rings on all five fingers, went up. It belonged to ex-convict Shri Timbuktu Reddy of Congress. "I have already met this week's quota, sir," he announced, thrusting his chest forward.
All heads in the room, except that of Mahatma Gandhi in the portrait on the wall, nodded in approval.
Reddy elaborated: "We have evidence to prove that Modi is the Gabbar Singh of Sholay of corruption. He is the baddie behind a nefarious company in Guwahati." He raised aloft a mobile phone. "You see here the video of a rally Modi addressed in Mysuru recently. Modi is looking at a man in the audience for a full four seconds. And this man has a daughter who is the classmate of the cousin of the guy who designed the kitchen interiors for the managing director of this company that has zipped the exchequer of Rs 5,000 in tax."
The cries of "shame!" that followed could be heard half a kilometre away.
Without fuss, the meeting went on to debate on other subjects in the Common Minimum Programme related to the election promises of both the JD(S) and Congress.
No bisi bele bhath, sorry
When the chief minister came to the last bit about the Indira Canteens launched by the previous Congress government, the faces of Congress members fell. The party's two elderly ministers collapsed in their chairs as though hit by grenades.
Screaming, they went round the Cabinet Hall like headless chickens. One of them tripped and crashed to the floor. Despite the chief minister's repeated attempts to ask what the matter was, this went on for some time. Calm returned only when Kumaraswamy's brother HD Revanna stood up menacingly and rolled up his sleeves.
Finally, a Congress minister spoke up. "Why did you," he asked Kumaraswamy, "replace bisi bele bhath on the menu with the favourite delicacy of your father Shri HD Deve Gowda? This is nothing but hijacking the coalition to satisfy the political and culinary appetites of your own family!"
Looking surprised, Kumaraswamy replied: "It makes sense, does it not? Bisi bele bhath is a khichdi, which reminds people of what our government is. I have replaced it with ragi mudde. Made of only ragi flour, it's an embodiment of homogeneity — what the government should be."
Unable to digest this, furious Congress ministers rushed to the door, yanked it open and walked out.
"Lurking outside the door, I ducked out of sight just in time," Deep Throat said.
The author wrote a weekly satire column called True Lies in The Times of India from 1996 to 2001. He tweets at @sprasadindia.
Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 11:54 AM