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      Volume 10 |Issue 42 | November 04, 2011 |


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It's Hard to be a Good Loser

Aasha Mehreen Amin

It's not easy to lose a game. Think about it. No matter how sporty you pretend to be you just can't help that sick feeling in the pit of the stomach and the lump in one's oesophagus when you see the garlands around your winning opponent's neck, the tons of laddus distributed by their supporters and the embarrassed smiles from your friends and family. But because many times your loss is in public there is little to do but put up a brave face and appear to be a good sport.

When children lose in say, Musical Chairs at a birthday party, they may throw a tantrum and say things like: ‘It's not fair', 'you cheated', followed by tears and wringing of the hands in frustration. Politicians, strangely, despite reaching maturity in terms of age, have similar reactions when they lose an election. They will stamp their feet and cry foul at every opportunity and come up with bizarre conspiracy theories:

The police were biased towards my rival. This, despite the fact that the accuser is a nominee of the ruling party which makes it a little tricky for law enforcers to go against their own employers don't you think?

The electronic voting machines have been 'fixed'. And how exactly? They have designed them in such a way that if you vote for kodbel (my symbol ) the vote will actually be recorded for jambura (the undeserving rival's symbol).

For politicians in this country, losing is just not an acceptable possibility so there is no point talking about whether one will accept defeat gracefully or not.

Political candidates like to have a backup plan before the actual polling starts – just in case. A candidate for instance, after not being able to come up with anything better, may claim that the electronic voting machines are 'hackable'. A glamorous 'IT expert' with great English speaking skills may be brought in front of the cameras to confirm this possibility with some weight. Sometimes politicians become clairvoyant and make predictions: "There will be a terrorist attack on election day." Never hope to get a plausible explanation for such a premonition intended to scare away the voters from the polling centres. Perhaps the candidate can just feel it in his bones.

Despite a string of allegations against them – murder, extortion, land grabbing, nepotism or general corruption – political candidates will appear in public, in the garb of angels.

This does not mean just kissing babies; it means even hugging the opponent in public while later, tearing each others' throats on talk shows.

Finally when the results are out, the losing candidate will at first, literally, lose it. If it had been anyone else in my place the whole city would have gone in flames.

Such tantrums, thankfully, are short-lived when it is crystal clear that the opponent won not because the voting machines, media, law enforcers or election commission were biased. It was because the voters were the ones who were biased - towards the candidate they thought would best serve their interests. It's something we call a 'free and fair election'.



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