As I watch the Bengal elections, I imagine a foreigner friend asking me, “How can a candidate win an election without a debate?”

To show him we could also have what the west had, I decided to organize one.

We picked a moderator.

 “Your speech will make the difference!” said the moderator with a smile to the two candidates.

 “What speech!” asked Candidate One as he spat a large wad of paan right onto the floor of the stage and waved as the audience applauded his attempt at bravado.

 “Will both candidates please come on the stage!" announced the moderator.

 “One minute!” said both the candidates rushing off into the wings.

 “Where have they gone?” asked my puzzled foreign friend.

 “They are with the cameraman. Candidate One is promising him government contracts if he does not zoom in on his bald patch, while candidate two is slipping two thousand rupees into the same cameraman’s hand not to zoom where the warts on his face are! Ah, here they are."

The moderator beckoned them to stand on either side of him. “I will take the left side because according to my guruji it will bring me luck!” said Candidate One.

 “My astrologer told me the same,” said Candidate Two, “Today is an auspicious day and according to his to his astrological charts, the moon casts its shadow on the right side, and that would be disastrous for me. I will stand on the left!”

 “I want the left!”

 “I want the left

"Gentlemen, gentlemen!”  shouted the moderator, “Please don't fight. You both may stand to my left. You may start sir!”

 “Free electricity for everyone!” shouted the first candidate.

 “Free water for slum dwellers!” shouted the second man not to be outdone.

 “Free vaccine for everybody!”

 “Free loans for all. Give your vote, take your loan!”

The moderator banged his gavel. “What are you both doing?” he whispered.

 “We are debating!” said both the candidates glaring at him.

Don't you both understand?” asked my friend, “That if the public don’t know what you both have to offer, you both may not get any votes? They want to know what your foreign policy is? What your views are on inflation. They want a debate! They want to hear you speak against each other!”

 “No!” shouted the public who had come to watch, “We want to hear what we will get free! We want laptops, free weddings, free vaccines, free..”

 “And who will pay for all this?” whispered my foreign friend.

 “Nobody!” I told him, “The man who is the best liar wins, and like fools the people will give their votes to the most convincing of them!"

"The people are happy with false promises and pipe dreams!" said the moderator as he got off the stage and packed his bag to leave, “Debates are reality, they are not needed here..!”

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