As you must have read, the government is shaking down captains of industry for donations to finance its election campaign. Yesterday, one of the government's members approached my friend, who lives on the 21st floor and has a larger industrial empire than that of the Hindujas, Birlas, Tatas, Wadias, Mafatlals. Mahindras and Dadi Balsara put together.
The member humbly folded his hands and said: "As you know, sir, unlike the Congress party, which has amassed a great deal of wealth all these years it was in the government, we are a poor party. Without money we cannot fight the elections and serve the country. We would like a small donation from you."
"But of course, I would be delighted to contribute, you don't have to ask," my friend said. "How much? Would Rs. 500 crore do?"
"You are joking," the member said. "Because we are poor and honest, and we cannot return to power without money, you are joking."
"I am terribly sorry, I had no intention of joking. I just mentioned the first figure that came to mine. Would Rs. 1,000 crore do? Tell me exactly what you want and it is yours."
The member said: "You are very generous. Rs. 1,000 crore is a lot of money, I do not know what to say."
"All right, all right, you don't have to say anything. I will say it. Make it Rs. 5,000 crore, that sounds more respectable," my friend said.
"But, but…," said the member.
"Don't say a word more," my friend said. "I know what you are trying to say. Let us make it Rs. 50,000 crore, that sounds like a tody sum. I should have thought of it in the first place. Sometimes I forget how expensive elections have become."
"You are so right, they have become very expensive," the member said. "The only chance poor parties like ours have of forming the government is through the backdoor. And then people criticise us for forming the government through the backdoor."
"That's a shame," my friend said. "I tell you what I will raise my donation fractionally and make it Rs. 100,000 crore. That should give you some chance of forming the government through the front door."
"I do not understand," the member said. "Other industrialists, we have to cajole, threaten, open cases against, make promises to, then they part with a few lakhs. You are giving away in crores."
"Each industrialist gives according to his capacity," my friend said, "I will make it an even sum of Rs. 500, 000 crore. How do you want it, in cheque or cash?"
"Just tell us, in what way can we repay you?" the member said.
"You don't have to repay me, the Congress-I is going to do that. I have paid them much more than I have paid you," my friend said.