But there is no Lok Sabha any more – it was replaced with Mohalla Sabha in 2014, the year the Aam Admi Party came to power

Voices Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 05:30
By Anand Ranganathan It is impossible to miss the U-turn. That’s because there isn’t one. Our ferry docks near the Vivekananda statue. A man wearing a Gandhi cap looks in our direction. We wave back gingerly. He greets us with a cough and pushes us inside a Jugaad. Our journey recommences. An hour passes before we arrive at our destination. My journalist colleague nudges me with his elbow as we pass through the gates, opened just enough for our Jugaad to squeeze past. “So,” he whispers, “How does it feel to be back on home soil?” I am too shocked to reply. Besides, the Jugaad is making the sort of racket we used to witness in the Lok Sabha. But there is no Lok Sabha any more – it was replaced with Mohalla Sabha in 2014, the year the Aam Admi Party came to power. The Congress party that provided outside support to AAP in the initial months, withdrew their support when the Janlokpal bill was passed. They soon withdrew their withdrawal of support when AAP sent the entire BJP top brass to jail, but then withdrew their withdrawal of the withdrawal of their support the day AAP passed the bill that turned the whole of India into a prison. Now, AAP functions with inside support after having amended the constitution, and The Great Wall of India, that runs along India’s borders, sealing everything inside, exemplifies the AAP commitment to a corruption-free India. It was completed in a record time of two years. On the day of its inauguration, when reporters asked Minister of Prisons Ashutosh his thoughts on the Great Wall, he said, Nixon-like, “It’s a great wall!!!” And great wall it certainly is. Of a uniform height of 21 feet and a running length of thousands of kilometres, it has 19,348 gates just like the one we have passed through – the Kanyakumari Gate. The Jugaad comes to a slow death and we wait, taking in the air that is at once rancid and jasmine-scented. It turns out to be a long wait. The Minister Prisons is having a high-level meeting, so informs his secretary who has joined us for a chat. “Ashutosh sir is unhappy,” he says, “The prisons are overflowing. Too many accused. Where will they all go?” “But what do you mean, overflowing,” I ask him, “We can take many more, surely?”The secretary smiles and adjusts his Gandhi cap. Something tells me he doesn’t like my reply. “You want a quick tour?” he asks. “We’d have preferred being shown around by the Minister Prisons. That is what our newspaper sent us here for.”“Ok, wait then,” he says annoyed. We wait. And wait. The year is 2017. India is a giant prison and every Indian is an accused. All one has to do is to point at someone with the phrase “There he is! There he is!” and the unfortunate soul is at once labelled an under-trial. Those who aren’t accused – these would be government functionaries and coughing members of the AAP – operate from Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Startlingly, the accused also include AAP members. Ever since Prime Minister Kejriwal came on TV and exhorted the virtues of coughing – “It proves an individual’s sincerity in cleaning his inner self” – all AAP members unable to produce one cough every three minutes were labelled accused and transported to India. Coughing, not Namaste is now the party’s official greeting. A handful of non-accused media outlets – our newspaper among them – give the government functionaries company on the islands. My friend and I work for one such media house. We are here, inside India, to do a report on the condition of the accused, an action necessitated by the scathing Amnesty International communiqué of last week that accused India of mistreating its accused. “The accused have no voice in India,” the communiqué had said. “Damn fools,” had screamed our editor before he dispatched us on this journey. “Where was the need to send those Amnesty fellows to the prison housing the speech-impaired? Ashutosh is livid. And so would I be if you don’t file a report by this weekend.” “Tea??!!!”We turn our heads. It is Minister Prisons Ashutosh. We are petrified. It is as if all those exclamation marks are meant as flying daggers to pin our bodies down. We nod.“You want to see Ambani first or Rangrajan??!!!” he asks.“Rangarajan?” I answer, perplexed, “The ex-RBI governor? He, too, is accused?”“Of course he is!!!”“But why?” interjects my colleague, “I thought your grouse was with Ambani?”“Who do you think invented the formula that allowed Ambani to walk away with all that extra gas money?!!! It was Rangrajan! Bhushan-ji, our hon’ble Minister of Accusations accused him!! He went on a run!!! Run lasted 2 years!!! Now he is not running, only sitting – awaiting trial!!! You want to see him??!!!” We are stunned. My colleague asks for the restroom. “To your left!!!” screams Ashutosh, “Then take a U-turn!!”While I wait for my colleague to come back, Ashutosh gives me some statistics: “967,548 industries closed down last year because we accused their owners!!! This year we promise double-digit growth in these numbers!! Just last week Minister of Industry Ilmi-ji had an argument with Minister of Corporate affairs Medha-ji at a dharnatheque. Angry, she pointed her out with “There she is!”“My god!!!” I said, overcome by exclamotion.“You want to see Medha-tai?! She’s housed here!!!”“Perhaps I should wait for my colleague to return. He sure is taking his time, isn’t he?” Woe befall on me, for at that very instant Ashutosh spotted my colleague emerging from the toilet and blurted, “There he is! There he is!” That was enough. Half a dozen armed guards appeared from nowhere and whisked my friend away.“But-but,” I protested, “You can’t possibly do this!!! This is insane!!!”“Oh, yeah??!!” sneered Ashutosh, “There you are! There you are!” And here we are – my colleague and I, in a tiny cell, and as he paces up and down, I am trying to finish this piece, using paper and ink that the ever industrious Mukesh got smuggled in. Ah, there he is! Anand Ranganathan is a scientist at the ICGEB, Delhi. The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.
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