Hanged to Dry – A satire based on a stray comment by Justice Markendeya Katju – Written in May 2007

Hanged to Dry

The current catch phrase for the common man is “Aam Aadmi”. The common man’s problem’s have not changed over the last sixty years. Therefore to bring some change in his life the political circus – politicians, media – change the superfluous ever so often. The latest – Aam Aadmi – is very apt. Aam the hindi word translates into mango, that is “manga” in tamil. That word in tamil is a slang for gullible. An extremely apt name for the common man – Aam Aadmi – Gullible man.

An aam aadmi, Mr. Alphonse, a retired man is reading the news paper after his lunch. The TV is on and his wife, keeps changing the channels frequently. As he is reading, he chances upon the following article.

This was evident when the bail petition of one of the government officials convicted in the case came up before the Supreme Court.
“Everyone wants to loot this country. The only deterrent is to hang a few corrupt persons from the lamp-post,” said a Bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and Markandey Katju, which was hearing a bail petition filed by fodder scam accused Braj Bhushan Prasad, convicted by the trial court.

Justice Katju, from whom the remarks flowed, was aware of the limitation of the court in view of the rule of law that governed the country. “The law does not permit us to do it, but otherwise we would prefer to hang the corrupt,” he said.

As he reads, he falls asleep. The India that we live in unfolds in his dreams. The wife switching channels finally settles on NDTV 24×7 because they are having a marathon session on Aishwarya Rai’s tiff with Abhishek Bachchan. The reporter talks breathless for 10 minutes. Alphonse listens carefully hoping that the reporter is talking about the Supreme Court ruling. He learns the following from the reporter – that Abhishek is the fourth hero with whom Aishwarya has been linked and Aishwarya is the third that Abhishek has been betrothed to. He also learns that Aishwarya has not talked to Abhishek in the last 42 minutes and that there is speculation that the marriage has been called off.

But suddenly another reporter butts in and says that the betrothal has not happened. They discuss the intricacies and a Pandit from the Kasi temple is brought in to give an expert opinion. A multimedia presentation on what a perfect orthodox betrothal is and how the current ceremony differed is discussed threadbare. Jennifer Arul comes on the satellite link. She talks breathless for 5 minutes and slowly it dawns on Alphonse that she is not talking of the Supreme Court judgment but on how the Aishwarya – Abhishek affair has pushed the Chimbu-Nayanthara affair to the back burner. But his only consolation is a small line scrolling on the bottom which says “Anna Hazare” goes on an hunger strike demanding the supreme court wish list be implemented.

But by this time the Aishwarya news being over the wife turns to SetMax. Charu and Mandira and the Set Max team keen to market the World Cup realizes that “Hazare” at this point of time would be a very hot topic. They arrive on the scene and start covering Hazare. Mandira gushes about how she came to know of Hazare from Amitabh’s drunken monologue on Vijay. Anna Hazare’s small band of follower’s are at sea to understand what this is all about.

Slowly it dawns on Charu that they have the wrong Hazare. Meanwhile the topic catches the imagination of a whole nation as the NDA stalls the parliament on this issue. The NDA floor managers in the parliament had run out of issues significant enough to stall the parliament. Last time the parliament was convened they had stalled it on the issue of a Native Indian being fined for stealing sneakers in New York Central Park. After 5 days of adjournment of Parliament it was learnt that it was a Red Indian and not an Indian.

But now they realize they have a real hot potato to embarrass Lalloo. The NDA MPs demand an ordinance immediately. Somnath adjourns the Parliament 5 times a day for the next 3 days. In those three days he threatens to resign 14 times – a record by even his standard. Abhishek Singhvi  explains on NDTV that they would have to read the judgment before commenting on that and that it would take time. He also added that the Court had not indicted Lalloo and the CBI working under UPA had already exonerated him. On the issue of ordinance he explains that an ordinance cannot be passed when the parliament is in session. Arun Jaitley later in the show explained that this was the precise reason why parliament has been stalled and there cannot be a democratic debate if MPs discuss in the parliament.

Jayanthi Natarajan in a different channel said that Sonia had drafted a letter to Manmohan on this issue and that the letter will be released after a meeting of UPA constituents is held. Asked what the letter contains, she said that it was a private letter but hinted that it would contradict whatever was decided at the joint meet chaired by Sonia.

Meanwhile the UPA joint meet is held and there they unanimously decide to introduce a bill approving the Supreme Courts comments. Immediately in Chennai both Ramadoss and Jayalalitha flay Karunanidhi. Jayalalitha issues a press statement which says that the accused is a Government Servant and Karunanidhi had worked against the interest of Government employees. She added that the “Minority” DMK Government must resign. Karunanidhi realizes the havoc such a statement can cause in terms of votes in the next municipal election immediately issues a press statement saying that the ordinance must exempt all Government Employees.

News Papers write editorials and articles on how Karunanidhi has been varying his stands. Karunanidhi writes a strong rebuttal saying that his stand has been misinterpreted by the Brahminical Newspapers. That shuts the mouth of virtually every news paper. Bowing to his threat to resign, an emergency meeting is called. P.Chidambaram solves the issue by saying that the Prime Minister must follow his example on how he solved the service tax on transport sector. If the 50 lorry owner refuses to pay tax, then ask the 5,000 lorry users to pay the Tax. That way you can give employment to more people also give them more avenues to take bribe.

So the meeting decided that instead of hanging the bribe accepter they should hang the bribe giver. The communists are also happy as their vote bank is the organized government employee and never the business or trading community which gives the bribe. NDA is upset as their vote bank is targeted. Alphonse realizes that he had just bribed the Post man yesterday for getting his letters delivered. Just as he is wondering whether he would be arrested for his folly, he hears the bell ring. He is arrested and after a much publicized hearing he becomes the first person to be hanged under the new law. He hopes that Arundhathi Roy would demonstrate against the hanging but is disappointed to know that Ms. Roy feels that bribe giving is a crime fit for hanging, bombing the parliament is a different issue.

At last he is hanged in a televised hanging. Just about when he begins to choke the lamp post breaks and Alphonse falls. Waking up he realizes he had just fallen from his arm chair and his wife is busy watching  a “Saas Bahu” fight on TV. He is still wondering if the lamp post that broke was a poor quality one bought by a corrupt PWD employee.

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