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     Volume 4 Issue 15 | October 2, 2004 |

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Politics, Persona and Plato


One of the virtues of our new-found democracy, assuming period since popular ouster of Rowshan-pati, is that poll hopefuls plan long and hard long before the hard general elections. With almost point-six of the present government's tenure past, the time to create and build a persona is now.

Elections demand a lot of time and money. If you don't have spare time for your beloved (read precious) constituents before the elections and money that you would require for major and incidental expenses, you should not even start dreaming of getting into the rat race, pun not intended.

After the elections, you don't need to spend any time with the lot because they have shown their love with their tinted thumb and also you would be expected with 300 beloved others to be in the Sangsad Bhaban trying to put a quorum together. Where is the time to go to the elaka? Or the Sangsad for that matter?

Fiscally speaking you are likely to cover your expenses within six months with an embarrassing profit margin inclusive of bonus points, but there is a condition you must have the right electoral ticket. If you are on the wrong boat you are likely to be thrashed and kept lying for drying like dhaaner sheesh on a rural street.

Indeed if you have the khayesh to seek re-election you must be aware of the point-six factor and commence using your time and money, and seek forgiveness from the people who matter, and promise anew.

For a hopeful, it is now routine to travel to one's elaka each week, getting involved in local development works for religion, education, health and communication, dishing out money to persons commanding a pull among the voters, and donning suitable attire that appeals to the electorate.

The poster picture is of vital importance. Goof it there; and your chances are gone with the roll of the offset reel. To make an impression across the board, photo sessions are given in different outfits. One in a simple pallid panjabi to prove he is human, a natural choice from among the mass; another in tie and jacket to prove that his office is air-conditioned.

Waistcoat is rare because of our stifling weather but what else can you do if you have spare clothe because of your height. In the photo no one is bothered with what lies below the waist. That is for our law-enforces to find out in good time.

The photogenic look should not be glum. You cannot admit to your opponent that you have already lost it. Suicidal! Again one must not be too much smiles. It may appear haughty to claim a win six weeks before the casting of votes. Bayadob! If need be use Photoshop, but you have to portray just the right mood. Therein is the significance of the all-important 'mood-doll', in other words bhaab-murti, which can only be destroyed by what one says to a foreigner and not by what a foreigner can see or hear or smell or feel.

During the campaign a battered car works wonders for a candidate. It suggests that you are rich but not filthy. Crinkled clothes are a great scorer too. Stubble on the chin is a sure winner unless you are a woman contestant.

Election to this country's parliament is now two-phased, maybe it always was. The first hurdle is to win the nod of the kingmakers in a chosen party. That's the tough part choosing a party. Make a thorough study of the situation and see where you fancy your chances in terms of contestants, amount of money required, distance from capital, etc.

To make it easier for the kingpin to decide in your favour it is essential that you annihilate and eliminate all your opponents and emerge as the top dog before the all-important interview. The second phase is in a way lot easier because to a large extent it depends on which way blows the wind. You are helpless in defeat and in victory you cannot help it.

Political theorist Plato penned in 'The Republic' that "the ideal society should comprise of three classes--philosopher kings, military men, and merchants. But their membership in a class would depend on their education (uh! uh!): those who had completed the highest level of education would make the wisest decisions and thus should be the rulers of society".

The greatness of Plato is that he predicted about Bangladesh almost twenty-five centuries ago. Monarchs who dream we have always had and are constantly reminded of. (Even Dave 'what-more-can-he-do' is dreaming about a fat foreign bank account. More about that some other day.) Militarily, we have never been short of ambitious martial men. And merchants! Well, our businessmen and industrialists have almost always considered it their right to run this country like a factory exploitation of the workers. Its Plato's education ideology that makes the otherwise cool guy appear rather beroshik.


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