- From the archives of
THE STATE OF THE NATION
Vol 1, issue 4
- Frogs married off in West Bengal
Two frogs (names withheld to ensure privacy) were today married off by a village committe (of an undisclosed village called Mangalpura) in Malda, West Bengal, in a bid by the locals to influence, according to the village Sarpanch, Comrade Stalin, “the fascist rain gods like Indra and Neptune who give rain to places like Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which have enough water to quench multinational corporations, and leave us poor people with hardly a drop of water to add to our daily whiskey.”
The frogs – locals call them Him and Her – were married off in a short ceremony analogous to Hindu tradition by the Mangalpura priest Tarapada Sil. As per the demands of the bridegroom’s family, a special basket woven out of mango leaves was presented by the bride’s father as a keepsake. When contacted, both parties denied that it was anything in the form of a dowry. Most of the villagers saw it as a social occasion, and were highly appreciative of the singular candy that was the main course of the wedding meal.
The frogs, both of them belonging to the Golden variety, were carefully chosen. “It is very important that they should be compatible,” said Mr Gosh, an expert in animal husbandry. “So we used the same mangalsutra to tie them to each other so that they cannot escape. Also, in order to ensure that they do not run – I mean, hop – away, we will be placing them in a six-foot ditch and cover the upper four feet in loose soil.”
However, the incident was marred by controversy. Shortly after leading television networks announced that two frogs had been married off by the locals, the French High Commissioner is said to have sought a Government inquiry into the matter of forcible marriage. It was only after the Minister of External Affairs, Natwar Singh, clarified that the newlyweds were indeed frogs and were neither French nor human that the complaint was withdrawn. As an apology for jumping the pun, the Alliance Francaise have announced a week-long Frog-on-china Food festival at all their centres.
Also among the guests to the wedding were National Human Rights Commission Representative, Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America, responding to an anonymous tip-off that a marriage was taking place without the consent of the parties involved. Mr.Clinton was eventually assured that the marriage was indeed a cohabitant one, with the full consent and participation of the frogs involved, and even posed for a picture with the newlyweds. As a wedding gift, Mr.Clinton gave them their very own pet, a baby snake.
Not soon after Mr.Clinton left the scene (with a local girl he had hired as a temporary secretary called Maaniga Lavenskosh) officials from the People for Animals organisation arrived on the scene, distributing pamphlets titled, “Man’s Puppetteering with Nature’s Children.” According to an unnamable source from within the organization, the PFA had received an anonymous message about the wedding. “This is barbaric, inhuman and inanimal,” announced one of the older volunteers. “This is all superstitious nonsense. There is no way that marrying off two frogs is going to bring rain.”
It was all a case of misinformation and ignorance, explained the official later. “Frogs come out only during rainy seasons, not the other way around. Look, everyone knows that if you want rain, if you really want it to rain, you have to get a man – or is it a woman? I am not sure about that – with a mule. Now that brings rainfall!”
Also protesting the wedding were the Anglican Church of Good Message and Better Evangelism. “This is a case of religious harassment,” said Sister Care on arriving at the scene. “This is a case of forcible conversion. This marriage in itself is null and void.”
Responding to the question of whether she was referring to the species of the couple, the nun responded, “Of course not! It is the right of every one of God’s creatures to find a mate, get married, settle down and procreate. That was why He sent Noah all over the world to save at least a couple of every animal. We are only saying that this is not the way the marriage should have been conducted. The rituals and chantings are not the way to Christ, and they are definitely unsuitable for two born-again Christians like Him and Her.” She later clarified that she had personally baptised them when they had popped out of the Mission’s pond. She alleged that the Sangh Parivar was behind the kidnap and the subsequent ‘conversion and submission.’
When contacted, the Government’s Foundation for Education and Eradication of Superstitions (FEES) chose not to respond to the query as to whether they had prior information about the incident. Chief Secretary K R Iyer promised an official release as soon as the Chief Minister, Buddhadheb Bhattacharya, returned from a sudden and unavoidable engagement at the Alliance Francaise centre. “Until he returns,” Iyer said, “he is ignorant.”
- Nawab Kebab
In a horrific reminder of the lawlessness of the present times, the Nawab of Pataudi, also sometimes known as Tiger Pataudi, was arrested on the charge of shooting a black buck and two hare at a protected sanctuary in Haryana.
Police constable SK Booda confirmed the arrest, but refused to divulge any information on the particulars of the arrest. “Yes, we have got the Tiger,” he said at the Press Conference. “He won’t be hunting any more. No more comments.”
Responding to the arrest, the United States’ State Department issued a denial. “The United States has never released, and probably will never release, a black buck. All our bucks are green.”
While it is not clear exactly what has transpired, the facts, as they are available, are these : Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi is a former Indian Test player with a healthy – but not unnatural – average, he was arrested and he is in custody for shooting three animals. When contacted, cousel for the accused, Ram Jethmalani, had this to say, “My client never shot anybody, living or dead. While it would be improper for me to try the case in public even as it is in judice, I would like to ask every right-thinking man how someone who couldn’t hit a ball with a six-inch blade in his younger days could hit a buck and two rabbits with a hunting rifle he has in his possession.” Mr.Jethmalani refused to divulge any more details about his defense.
Mr.Pataudi was, however, more responsive when contacted by his mobile. He expressed anger at how he has been victimised by a corrupt and inefficient system, demonised by a bunch of ‘leaf-eating human bovines’ and tried by the press. When reminded that the case had not yet been thrashed about by the press, he replied, “See! If this is the support I get now, what will I get once you publish the true facts of the case?”
However, the Tiger eventually explained what had happened that fateful afternoon. “I was going on a drive with my right-hand man, Wolfe of Pataudi – he’s part German, you see – through the park when I saw this beautiful creature standing near the road. So graceful and poised, such a natural pose. So I took a picture of her, got her phone number and promised to call soon. Just a platonic friendship, you know, I am a happily married man. And I was on my way, chatting with Wolfe, when I saw this buck standing on a patch of grass a few hundred feet away. Since I was having a cramp in my hand, I asked Wolfe to shoot.”
Wolfe, being German, was a little weak in English. When he was ordered to shoot, he shot. “I wanted him to use the camera, but the idiot knows only to operate the lupara (shotgun). We did not know what to do, and we did not want to leave the body in the open. I’ve always believed in dignity, especially in death, and all I wanted to do, now that I was inadvertently a cause of the black buck’s death, was to take him home and preserve his form for all of eternity. I just wanted to stuff him, that’s all.”
The rabbits, according to the accused, was another accident. “Wolfe accelerated when he should have slowed down,” the Tiger said, “and we ran over the poor things. So I collected them too. They were dead anyway, so I thought we could stuff ourselves. That was when the policemen caught us.”
The district magistrate has set a bail of forty-five thousand rupees, “or about a thousand bucks, but green ones,” said the magistrate.
- Advani Resigns
Following the controversy that erupted during his visit to Pakistan, when former Home Minister and BJP President Lal Krishna Advani called Mohammed Ali Jinnah, widely regarded as the propounder of the infamous ‘Two-nation’ theory, a secularist, he has submitted his resignation to party General Secretary Sanjay Joshi. The BJP Parliamentary Committee will meet later to discuss whether or not to accept the resignation.
Barely a couple of days after LK Advani termed Jinnah as ‘secular,’ widespread protests within and without the party have brought about the resignation, said a party official who wished to remain anonymous. Jinnah is widely regarded in most of the average Indian’s knowledge as the communal and divisive leader who would not listen even to the Mahatma on the issue of Partition. Jinnah eventually became the first President of Pakistan.
Sources have also indicated that the resignation was a direct response to VHP Leader Parveen Togadia’s remarks that anyone who called Jinnah secular was a traitor to India, and to Hindus. Acharya Giriraj Kishore later clarified that Togadia did not target Advani specifically. “He just said anyone calling Jinnah secular was a traitor,” he emphasised, “He never said anything about Advaniji.”
Meanwhile, seeking to cash in on the troubled times, other parties came out with their own opinions. BSP President Mayawati said, “The BJP is a party that is fascist in nature and communal in colour. They are always directed against the minorities even as we, the BSP, have fought and died for them. Look at the BSP, I say. Look at the way we have inner-party democracy. They keep electing me unopposed all the time.”
When reminded that the sycophancy within her party had led to a huge expense sheet for a state already reeling with budget cuts, she replied that it was because of the insistence of all the loyal followers within her ministry. “They insisted we should celebrate, they insisted the public loved it. Besides, the public were starving. If they can’t have rice, they can at least have cake.”
Senior CPM Leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet had this to say about what he saw as a move by the BJP to communalise Pakistan. “By adjudicating Jinnah as secular, Advani has sought to increase his own popularity within that country. We all know that his next step will be to establish RSS Shakas all over Pakistan. This is blatant communalism and it has to be stopped.”
Responding to a question that Pakistan was already a state following the Islamic Sharia, Surjeet said, “As of now, Pakistan is secular. It is when Advani steps in that Pakistan becomes communal.”
RJD President and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav claimed that it showed the BJP’s divisive nature. “When we say secular, they say pseudo-secular. When we detoxify the system, they say we are persecuting them. When we say Jinnah is communal, Advaniji says he is secular. If there is any inner-party democracy within the BJP, Advaniji should step down, just like I did before Rabri became the Chief Minister. When I say earthen cups, they say regression.”
Clarifying that the Railways still hadn’t dropped the idea of replacing engines with bullock-carts, the Minister explained that it was more a case of finiding the required number of bullocks and feeding them. “For some reason,” he said off camera, “most people are reluctant to entrust me with procuring fodder. I’ll launch a CBI investigation soon to determine the cause.”
The main rival of the BJP, the Italian National Congress (though officially still the Indian National Coingress pending approval from the Election Commission expected in December) chose to join issue on Advani’s remarks. “While Jinnah was seperating the subcontinent,” senior Party spokesperson Ambika Soni told SoN, “Pandit Nehruji was busy bifurcating Kashmir so that the Hindus and Muslims wouldn’t fight. Jammu went to Hindus and Kashmir went to Muslims, so that religious minorities could be removed. What could be more equitable, more symbolic of secularism in India?”
A member of the Swaraj Shabd, an RSS-run monthly, raised the issue of Nehruji’s preoccupation with Lord and Lady Mountbatten, particularly Lady Mountbatten. Ms Soni responded that it was in keeping with his secular credentials, because Lady Mountbatten was a true Christian. To which a member of the Malayala Manorama raised the objection that a true Christian would not revert to adultery, no matter how much of a dunce her husband was.
The meeting tapered off into other topics, and ended with a proclamation of the party’s official line on the issue. “Insofar as the Congress Party is concerned, this is merely a drama to capture the public’s attention,” reads the release, “This is Advani’s copy-cat attempt to show how popular he is by adopting the Sonia Method. All this melodrama does not fool us; if Mr.Advani would be so kind as to be honest, he will admit that he learnt all this from us.”