It must be the pre-General Election fever that’s suddenly stimulated my already over-active imagination to come up with this little tale. I do hope it will afford some comic relief from the pre-GE angst that seems to be increasing by the day!
The Party is in a panic. A week before the General Elections, all the signs point to overwhelming support for the Opposition, and a shocking loss of seats for the Party in Parliament.
‘What shall we do?’ asks Minister-in-Chief. ‘We’ve never seen this sort of thing before.’
‘I have an idea,’ says Assistant Minister Number One.
‘We’ll instill fear in the people. Fear is the strongest emotion. It always works.’
‘How do you propose to do that?’ asks Assistant Minister Number Two.
‘Here’s how. Announce that the Party has foiled a terrorist plot to destroy the society completely. Not by bombs, but by something more deadly. Biological weapons. If the Party had not caught the plotters in time, every man, woman and child would be dead, or blinded, crippled and rendered sterile for life. Make the announcement just a day before voting day, and watch the people rush to cast gratitude votes for the Party!’
The meeting turns to see the reaction of Minister Advisor Supremo who is sitting at the far end of the table. He is shaking his head, in obvious contempt of the proposal.
‘With due respect to Number One, fear is NOT the most powerful emotion,’ says Number Two. ‘You know what is? Greed. Why don’t we do this. Announce tomorrow that if the Party wins, everyone’s pocket will bulge with cash. From our vast reserves. Watch the people’s eyes gleam with the dollar sign, listen to the clicking calculators inside their heads as they decide on how much to spend on upgrading their apartments or taking the family on a vacation in Europe!’
Minister Advisor Supremo coughs to draw attention to the look of disdain on his face that says, ‘How idiotic can you all get!’
‘Fear. Greed. There’s a third emotion that is far more powerful than either of these two.’ Everyone turns to look at Assistant Minister Number Three who says very slowly, ‘Sympathy. That’s what it is.’
‘Sympathy?’ echoes Number One, frowning. ‘ What do you mean?’
‘Sympathy? Have you gone all soft or what?’ says Number Two with a look of disgust.
‘Let’s talk seriously, we don’t have time to lose,’ says Minister-in-Chief wearily.
‘Never under-rate this emotion in a crowd,’ explains Number Three patiently. ‘When people are swayed by it, they are like putty in your hands. They will give every single vote to the Party!’
‘And, pray, how do you propose to whip up this marvellous sympathy for the Party among the thousands of people who are getting ready to vote for the Opposition?’
‘Easy,’ says Number Three, enjoying the attention he’s getting. ‘An assassination. Or rather, an assassination attempt. On no less than Minister-in-Chief.’
‘A single shot from someone in the crowd, as Chief is doing his campaign walkabout. Screams. Pandemonium. The assassin is caught as he tries to get away. Chief is on the ground bleeding profusely. Mrs Chief is kneeling beside his body, sobbing. The moment is captured by the TV cameras and flashed all over the world. The people are in deep shock. They keep asking, ‘How can this happen? How seriously hurt is Chief? Will he die?’ The least they can do is vote for his party.’
‘Our best marksman—do you think he is expert enough to do the job, that is, wound Chief only slightly, say, in the arm or thigh? Suppose he misses his mark?’
‘Maybe Chief can wear a bulletproof vest—it won’t show under his shirt.’
‘What do you say, Chief?’
‘Well, I’m ready to go along if it’s for the good of the Party. But are you sure this sympathy thing will work?’
‘It’s been tried before in some countries, and apparently works quite well,’ says Number Three, gratified that his idea is catching on. ‘We can count on the women. The tears will be streaming down their faces, and they will make their men cast sympathy votes too.’
Now everyone turns to look at Minister Advisor Supremo who suddenly stands up. By now the look of scorn and rage on his face is fearful to behold. He glares at every face turned anxiously towards him, and says, ‘Can’t I make you understand after all these years of advising you? Isn’t it obvious that the best thing to do is to send in the army?’