Two men traveling in a tram. It is a hot & humid Kolkata summer. They got into a debate. Getting into a debate is not uncommon in this part of India, it is rather an opportunity to flex intellectual muscle, but with ongoing election fever, any debate other than politics, shall raise eyebrows.
Mr. Das, looking out of the window of slow moving tram, said, “fourteen years have gone by and yet the things have not changed.”
Mr. Saha, wiping the sweat on his forehead remarked, “What are you talking about, CPM (Communist Party) is no longer in power, it is DiDi now. (Didi, referred to head of ruling TMC in West Bengal)
Das, smirked, “Saha, let me tell you, National Parties in India are just rubber stamps. They over last 14 years could not make government on their own.”
Saha for a while could not get head or tails of it, but he did not let his Bengali spirit cow down so easily. He said, “Sauti (true), but you need to have evidence for same.”
Das was now in full spirit, ignoring the beautiful Victoria Memorial and some cool breeze that gushes along on this stretch of tram ride. He straightened and said, “You know for all these years no matter who was at the center, the state parties where the ones who ruled.”
Knowing that he had Saha grappling to grasp, he continued, “Saha as per past stats, state parties have cornered 28% of seats in national elections, which leaves the national parties to no alternative but seek their support to have 51% majority”. He added, “Worst is that this gives state parties unusual say on national issues and corner key portfolios in the central government. Remember, this is without them having any say in any other part of India.”
Saha understood that Das has got a one up on him, but he still probed further, “Do you have the stats handy?”
Das was now enjoying the breeze as tram moved forward on signal turning green. “Yes, of course, I have the proof. Here you go.”
With this Das showed Saha a piece of paper and it read as follows:
Seats won in the year 2009 2004 1999
National Parties 376 364 369
State Parties 146 159 158
Unrecognized Parties 12 15 10
Independents 09 05 06
Total 543 543 543
State Party Seats/Total 26% 29% 29%
Saha knew today Das had come prepared. He acknowledged it and added, “Yes, that is what makes Didi in West bengal, Amma in Tamil Nadu and Bhenji in Uttar Pradesh, key to this elections”.
Das remarked, “Sauti (True), if stats have it’s way they have key to 28% of seats and are the kingmakers.” They both laughed together and got ready to get off the tram.
By ‘dod’ Rangers