Fresh footage is being viewed by Anand and Brajesh on the screen at the far end of the stage. Their silhouetted backs can be seen by the audience. The action is in central Delhi, where a huge 50 x 50 ft pit has been dug for a yagna. Piles of sandalwood go into the pit before being set alight by two holy men. Ghee is then poured on the fire, and the flames leap skywards. As far as the camera can see, there are saffron-robed holy men, with rudraksh beads around their necks. They are participating in the yagna. The visuals fade with a shot of the raging flames, and normal lights are restored on the stage.
Elections Delayed, Electoral Balance Upended
ANAND [turning to Brajesh]: That does look spectacular! But the big question before us is: When will elections be held? Senior politicians, like your father, want the polls postponed.
BRAJESH: I guess they are hoping that the Muslims will return and restore electoral balance.
ANAND: They know that the Muslims are not returning. They just want to delay the election to buy time and come up with a new strategy. Right now, they can’t face an election. Unfortunately for them, two election commissioners are on the other side. They want the election to be conducted as soon as possible.
BRAJESH: What advantage do those pushing for an early election see in it?
ANAND: It is obvious – with the Muslims gone, the triangular and pentangular multi-cornered contests now mean nothing.
See, if 30 per cent of the population are upper castes, 70 per cent are Dalit, Adivasis and other backward classes. Numerically, they fall far behind.
BRAJESH [a sense of alarm in his voice]: I do not know what will happen to Pitaji and Anita. She still believes something can be retrieved from the situation and has been talking about diverting the wealth of the Muslims towards welfare schemes for the upliftment of the poor and the marginalised. She believes Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, as well as the upper castes should equally shoulder the responsibility of building a socialist republic.
ANAND [amused]: A Hindu socialist society? It is a good dream, but I tell you it will always remain a dream.
The above is an excerpt from 'The Muslim Vanishes', a play written by renowned journalist Saeed Naqvi and published by Penguin Random House India. The script is a satirical reflection of the current Indian socio-political atmosphere and tackles some hard-hitting questions with a fantastical plot. Continued excerpt from Act 2, Scene 4:
Would India Accept a Dalit Prime Minister?
(A journalist from the news desk comes rushing in.)
JOURNALIST: This has not been confirmed, but our bureau has flashed us this exclusive input: the Dalit Samaj has apparently decided to declare their leader as their prime ministerial candidate. The formal announcement will be made in a few hours. It is Kalyug, sir! Kalyug!
BRAJESH: It is not possible.
ANAND: Do you really believe that Bharat will accept a Dalit prime minister?
Who Gets All Muslim Properties?
(The light on the stage fades. A woman newsreader’s voice can be heard in the darkness giving the latest update.)
NEWSREADER’S VOICE: There are reports of widespread protests leading to arson and the destruction of public property in several parts of the country. In the national capital, police have been deployed in several areas to maintain civil order. Police sources have identified the protestors as a coalition of lower castes. They have been out on a rampage ever since the chief election commissioner postponed general elections till such time as the Muslim community, which has mysteriously disappeared, returns.
The protests have taken an ugly turn, and the police fear they may not be able to cope with the situation for long. According to a senior police official, the army may have to be called in to restore law and order outside the Election Commission office, where a massive yagna is taking place to ensure the peaceful postponement of elections and the safe return of the Muslim community.
Army and paramilitary deployment have also been requested to protect places of worship.
In Lucknow, police have once again been rushed to Padain Ki Masjid, where women are conducting a Shiv Ling puja. It was earlier thought that police deployment was not required at the mosque since with no Muslims in the country, riots could be ruled out. But the Home Ministry has advised caution, since a puja in a mosque could turn communal and lead to riots should the Muslim community return.
The Muslim disappearance has led to large-scale attempts to take over or occupy properties, businesses and houses owned by the community. It started with the Dalits and OBCs staking a claim to all Muslim property, but it did not take long for the upper castes to follow suit.
(The above is an excerpt from Saeed Naqvi's 'The Muslim Vanishes'. Blurbs, paragraph breaks and subheadings have been introduced by The Quint for the ease of readers.)