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The Fifth Column

25th April 1999

Lesson on how to govern

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My Dear Vajpayee,

I was so shocked and surprised to hear that your government had collapsed after a vote of no-confidence last week. If only I knew a little earlier, I think I could have been of some assistance to you.

You see, Vajpayee, you should never have let this vote of No Confidence get out of hand. You could have, for instance, summoned the Speaker, and told him all the secrets you know about him - and, I'm sure he has many.

Then, I'm sure the poor fellow would have gone back to Parliament with some feeble excuse like saying he was not sure of the signatures and that would have been the end of that Vote of No Confidence!

Then, Vajpayee, you made another mistake by antagonizing that Jayalalitha girl. You know, these small Tamil parties are so important for coalition governments like yours.

I know they make next-to-impossible demands once in a while, but the fact is that they are needed for your survival and therefore they have to be tolerated. If they do get really out of hand you could always send their leaders to visit a prison and you can be sure there will always be someone to assault them!

The other mistake you did, Vajpayee was not to hold state elections. When you hold these state or regional elections, all the MPs in the Opposition are so busy working for that election that they forget the work - that they are supposed to be doing as the Opposition and you will have no Votes of No Confidence to worry about!

Now, don't think that all this advice is too late for you. After all, you are still the caretaker Prime Minister and while you are in charge, you could still try to do something.

For instance, you are always fighting with Pakistan over Kashmir, aren't you? Well, you could fire a couple of nuclear missiles and say things like "we have captured ninety percent of Kashmir," If that doesn't make you look like a war hero, you could always dress up in military fatigues and get your President to confer on you the rank of General.

Of course, you can forget all these problems if your cricketers start winning their matches in the World Cup. But, remember, Vajpayee, don't let Azharuddin's brothers take to politics because then cricket becomes a family business and Azhar will end up as a dictator !

And Vajpayee, you have to always watch out for Sonia, 'A politician who is the wife of a popular leader' who has been killed is a very dangerous opponent.

It maybe true that many of them appear and act as if they know nothing about politics - and that is true also - but, believe me, people vote for them !

So, best of luck for the weeks ahead. One last hint: why don't you try having elections to the different states on different days? Then, you rig the first election and you win the rest automatically !

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha.

PS - It strikes me that your initials are AB. Something tells me, AB, that those are initials which may make you stay in the Opposition forever. Think about that !

Rajpal Abeynayake's Column

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