Disaster struck suddenly (as it always does!). Within hours the fire had engulfed the whole of this remote hamlet and by morning all that remained was smoking embers and heaps of ashes…
A few days later a rather surprised military helicopter pilot on relief-and-rescue duty found a fat 'leader' boarding his helicopter along with his 'entourage'!
"Hey wait a sec!" the newly recruited pilot shouted. "Who are you and where do you think you are going?!"
The public relations guy smiled his trademark plastic smile and informed the new and naïve pilot, "This is the netaji from the ruling party and these are his private secretary, his press secretary, his make-up m_ – er – I mean his Officer on Special Duty and of course the bodyguards. They will be visiting the site of the disaster."
"But I can't take along all these guys! The chopper is already carrying relief materials beyond its capacity!"
"Throw off these sacks of grain!" the coordinator shrugged.
"Right now 'our' people need words of consolation more than they need food!" the netaji intervened to explain.
The sacks of rice etc. were duly thrown off. No sooner had the last sack hit the ground that another group arrived on the scene.
"The leader from the opposition along with his 'indispensables'," the coordinator informed the pilot. "Can't refuse to take them. They will create a ruckus!"
"You can offload the blankets," he offered helpfully as the pilot stood scratching his head in despair. "These guys sure know how to warm an audience with their words!"
Then as the chopper was about to take off a few more people boarded the same.
"The 'third front'!" the coordinator explained.
"I guess the packs of medicine will also have to be dumped," the pilot said shaking his head gloomily.
The chopper finally took off and half an hour later was hovering over the site of devastation.
"I say there is no water to be seen down there! Are you sure this is the place which got devastated by flood?" the leader from the ruing party said as the chopper started its descent.
"Flood?! No, Sir! It was a fire! The whole village got burned down!"
The ruling party leader glared at his private secretary, "Why didn't you tell me earlier?! I would have brought along a 'fire' speech instead of this 'flood' speech!"
Once the chopper landed the people rushed towards it expecting relief supplies.
"See how all these guys are rushing to welcome me even in their misfortune!" the leader from the ruling faction boasted.
"I would say they are out to welcome me!" the opposition leader asserted, waving at the crowd.
The leader of the 'third front' nodded, shook his head, and then again nodded and said (in his usual non-committal tone!), "Our party will issue a statement on this matter in due course of time."
The camera bulbs popped and the video cameras started whirring. The leader from the ruling party took the podium first and said, "My dear people! I am here on behalf of my party to share your pain. Floods cause a great deal of devastation…"
"Fire! Sir, Fire!" the private secretary interrupted him.
"…and so does fire!" the leader continued. "I have asked my government to airlift 50 boats as boats are vital for evacuation purposes in flooded areas…"
"Fire! Sir, Fire!" the private secretary hissed desperately.
"…of course since your houses have been destroyed by this terrible fire you can tear apart these boats and utilize the wood – and it is really seasoned wood that these boats are made of – in the construction of new houses! Moreover, I have arranged for 10 best quality pumps to be sent here which can drain out the flood waters…"
"Fire! Sir, Fire!" the private secretary reminded, gnawing nervously at his fingernails.
"…of course even a fool knows that you just have to change the direction of these pumps and there they are dousing the fires!" the leader plunged on.
"But now that everything is burnt down what use will these fire-fighting pumps be?" a reporter ventured to ask.
"Young man! Our party believes in the future! This is not going to be the last fire surely…," the leader explained and then shooting a triumphant look at his private secretary added, "…and of course the pumps will be useful in case of floods as well!"
Now it was the turn of the opposition leader to deliver his speech. "Dear suffering people! I would like to put it on record that the ruling party is solely and wholly responsible for this destruction!"
"How?!" one of the reporters asked.
"Well as you know this fire has been caused by a short circuit. For years when our party was in power the people of this village approached us for electricity but knowing that where there is electricity there are bound to be short-circuits and fires we always ignored this demand. This here party came into power and just for cheap publicity it brought electricity to this village and the results are in front of you! The party must take full responsibility for this destruction and resign from the cabinet!"
Finally the 'third front' leader took the podium, scratched his head and then his bottom, surveyed the gathering, yawned and in keeping with the avowed manifesto of his party said, "Our party will issue a statement on this matter in due course of time."
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at firstname.lastname@example.org)