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Let them eat cake

There’s no sugar-coating it: this election season, some politicians could get just desserts.

Updated: February 27, 2014 12:53:43 am

There’s no sugar-coating it: this election season, some politicians could get just desserts.

On Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s 66th birthday, AIADMK members had prepared a thoughtful surprise — a 66 kg cake in the shape of Parliament. As Jayalalithaa announced party candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, her supporters carved up Parliament and dug into it.

Even as she is safely ensconced as CM after having routed the rival DMK in the state, Jayalalithaa has done little to scotch rumours about her prime ministerial ambitions. Maybe the AIADMK chief would like to have her cake and eat it too. At least, that’s the message if one reads the icing on the cake.

Ever since Marie Antoinette suggested that French citizens eat cake and brought on a wave of angry Jacobins, dessert has gone political. Till this day, cake is often made out of a bitter batter, whipping up strong emotions. When Sachin Tendulkar cut a birthday cake depicting the Indian flag, it was seen as a threat to national integrity.

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Then there was Javed Akhtar’s off-colour joke — a cake in the shape of an Indian slum, presented to wife Shabana Azmi on her 60th birthday. But there are cakes that cannot be eaten. China’s cake theory of development, for instance, gave rise to a deep political divide within the Communist Party. While one faction thought wealth should be distributed, or the cake should be shared, the other wanted to focus on creating more wealth — making a bigger cake.

In India, with the poll season in full swing, parties are trying to figure out how best to carve the electoral cake as they enter into alliances and make pitches to different constituencies. Seasoned politicians might think it’s a piece of cake, but in this fraught election year, they should strategise well. Or else, they might end up getting just desserts.

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