(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
(We were going to write another long screed about how everything is just the absolute worst, but minutes before we were about to begin, an anonymous party insider sent us the following Congress Working Committee Memo which enumerates all the things the party wants the government to ban. So we immediately decided to send this in instead because this scoop is so exclusive that even most of the people it was intended for haven’t seen it yet.)
Dear cherished members of the Gandhi family, honourable prime minister, honourable prime ministerial aspirants, respected elders, treasured friends, esteemed colleagues, and Digvijay Singh,
I write this letter to you in anguish. There has been an onslaught of negativity towards the UPA government. We have been treated very unfairly. Everybody talks about all of the bad things we have done, and not the good thing everyone thought we did but found out later that it was a bad thing too. Since the assembly elections are sort of a semi-final for next year’s general election, we have to take some preventive steps to stop the misinformation campaign against us. Due to this bombardment of dubious information, people are getting the impression that we are corrupt, old, out of our depth and not prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. These untruths about us are probably being spread at the behest of a foreign hand by mischievous elements for the benefit of our political opponents. Clearly, getting bad information is the only reason the people of this country have expressed their desire to vote against us. There is no other possible explanation of why anyone would not think that we’re the greatest thing to happen to the human race since the invention of the ‘Reply All’ button.
So, in the spirit of upholding democracy and freedom, we ask that the central government ban the following:
Opinion polls: Clearly, these unscientific measures of groupthink are biased. And damaging! Look, one of the most important things in this country is other people’s opinion. A large percentage of our population base their lives on projecting the sort of image that everyone around them approves of. People are ready to spend their whole lives living in an unhappy squalor as long as they don’t become the topic of gossip among their friends, relatives and neighbours. People are even peer-pressured into killing their loved ones. Don’t you think they can easily be persuaded to vote for someone on the basis of bogus polls?
Election Symbols of other political parties: I, for one, see no need for any political party that is not led by a member of the Gandhi family. However, thanks to a glaring oversight by our founding fathers, the constitution allows for as many political parties as the people want. The only thing we can do to make people forget that other options exist is to remove or hide anything that reminds them of political parties opposed to us. As they say, absence makes the heart grow amnesic! So, for the next six months, say goodbye to aeroplanes, arrows, bells, bicycles, books, bows, brooms, bulbs, bungalows, corn, chairs, clocks, combs, drums, elephants, flowers, grass, hammers, hand pumps, ink pots, ladders, lady farmers, leaves, lions, lotuses, mangoes, pens, sickles, spades, spectacles, stars, the sun, tractors, and umbrellas.
The News: This is the ground zero of the misinformation campaign. Some so called reporters keep damaging our chances in the election by trying to inform the public. The ‘Modi media’ is quite disrespectful to some of our esteemed leaders. These propagandists show our leaders in a bad light by reporting what they said, verbatim. We will not let them get away with that anymore! So we should get rid of all political news, at least for the next six months. Also, why does the public need to hear about politics anyway? It’s such a complicated business! It probably depresses them, anyway. In my opinion, we should ‘humbly suggest’ to all the news channels they’d be better off by reporting on bollywood shenanigans than making a mountain out of a political molehill.
The Internet: We live in the information age. There is so much information for everyone to process! Something is always blaring at us, demanding our attention. A smorgasbord of things that we absolutely cannot miss! So much to must watch! and do read! that being on the internet can feel like a full time job. Therefore, it is only fair that we limit the number of websites that internet users in India can access. It is just like banning the consumption of illicit drugs or local hooch. It’s doing the people a favour they didn’t ask for! Tough love, etc. As someone suggested in our meeting the other day, printing out the whole internet so we can determine what is or isn’t allowed seems like a good idea. In the interim, we can limit people’s access just to websites that display cricket match scorecards and Sanjay Jha’s Rahul Gandhi slash fiction livejournal.
Remember, we need to convince the people of this country that all these steps have been taken because of legitimate concerns and are not the last gasp of air before the final demise of a craven government.