Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rampant Decadence versus Forgotten Democratic Imperatives

Is the Canadian TV journalist Larry Zolf’s remark, “For socialists, going to bed with the Liberals is like having oral sex with a shark” apt for the AAP-Congress mating in Delhi? ... After reading this piece, if you surmise that our political leadership and large swathes of elite are decadent, insensitive, myopic, petty, communal, casteist and exploitative – well, you are staring at the facts.
There was a time when the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh had earned the “Mullah/Maulana” sobriquet for his pro-Muslim stance, especially during the events that preceded the Babri Masjid demolition. Now, his party has entered the Nero mode – what with Bollywood stars hired for entertaining these neo-Nawabs and their guests at Saifai even as Muzaffarnagar riot victims cry out for succor. This is the party that is supposed to represent the OBCs even as it claims to be ideologically Lohiaite. For them democracy is only a means to grabbing power by hook and crook. The elected forget their electors until the next elections. But why blame politicos alone, whose conscience died the day India became independent (with rare exceptions, of course) anyway? What about those who are expected to have evolved sensibilities – the upper classes and the artistes – but participated in that megabuck orgy? This is a classic example of brazenly organized hypocrisy wherein film stars, politicians and the so-called elite participate without even a hint of hesitation. One watched their reactions on TV with disbelief. Such people cannot ever feel mortified enough to blush. They need oodles of blush-on to hide their ugly faces.
Last week was reality check time for the AAP. Arvind Kejriwal realized how even best of intentions are not enough to sustain a political party in public esteem indefinitely; it is important to back those intentions with positive actions, although doing so is easier said than done. The very first attempt at holding an open hearing of public grievances ended in chaos, sending the CM & Co. scurrying to the rooftop. Then we had the spectacle of a Delhi cop defying the state’s Law Minister even as the media’s cameras whirred and clicked. The cop’s brazenness is the direct result of the mal-structured government, where the state’s police come under the central government, thus turning the AAP government into a toothless and clawless tiger. Worse, the fact that the AAP government owes its sustenance to the Congress’s support reminds one of a Canadian TV journalist Larry Zolf’s remark, “For socialists, going to bed with the Liberals is like having oral sex with a shark.” In the Indian context, one can rephrase this with suitable substitutions.
It was, of course, quite confounding to watch two Delhi State ministers taking upon themselves to enforce the law of the land. They are neither trained police officers nor experienced in managing the realities of a metro’s complex nightlife. They ended up generating avoidable pain and bewilderment. To add to the ever-evolving confusion, the Binny Bomb threatened to damage the AAP’s hitherto haloed image. Whatever the truth in Binny’s allegations, it goes to show that the AAP leaders need to be careful about who they have in the party’s fold. They are not operating in an ideal environment although AAP’s main driving force has been idealism… In this season of allegations and innuendos, an ex-bureaucrat too decided to contribute his mite. Former Home Secretary, RK Singh, alleged that Shinde had helped a ‘D’ Company man. Shinde, naturally, did not like it.  
Narendra Modi, the Great Saffron Hope that had refused to wear a proffered skullcap last year, on the plea that he was against appeasing minorities, was all over the small screen last week wearing a skullcap (shown fleetingly on news channels)! And that too in the company of the much derided Salman Khan! With both of them flying kites together on the occasion of Gujarat’s Uttarayan festival, it (kite flying, not the festival) appeared to be an apt metaphor. Possibly, both the neta and the abhineta wanted to see which way political winds were blowing. If Modi really wanted to send out a message to the minority community, he could have chosen one of the Hussains or Naqvis from among the umpteen BJP Muslims. Was it something to do with reaching out to the Sunnis, or was Modi worried about the credibility factor? As for Salman Khan, who is supposed to be a Congress acolyte, it must have been a tough back-flip, him suddenly appearing not just in the company of Chotta Sardar but also, earlier, showering praises on the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan! Competing with NaMo’s desperate attempts at makeover were the AAP-Congress duo Arvind Kejriwal and Kapil Sibal in a rather tight clasp – too tight to be honest, honestly! Remember, Sibal has been sneering at Kejriwal and his fellow agitators in public, right from the days of the Anna Hazare Movement and Kejriwal had never been shy of telling the world of what he thought of Sibal. Seeing the smiles on their faces, one wondered who engineered these emoticons for the occasion – which, incidentally, was Milad-un-Nabi. Surely, in Indian politics, such bonhomie could neither be an act of statesmanship (a concept alien to our politicos) nor a result of emotional spasm (they do get spasmatic, but not emotionally, further elucidation is left to your imagination, dear reader). It was more a case of “Turncoatism Zindabad!”
The Grand Old Party has doddered through another round of decision-making vis-à-vis its Prime Ministerial face for the 2014 general elections. It must have been an excruciatingly tortured process for them, because they were unable to make up their minds. No, not about the person – the world knows it is the ordinance-tearing, cabinet-decision-overturning scion of the Nehru-Gandhi Family, the one and only hope of the Gandhi-capped Khadi-clad fraternity. They agonized over the prospect of exposing the GOP’s precious jewel to the hazards of hustings. With twin challenges coming from Modi and Kumar Vishwas, what if the GOP is drubbed in the elections? It would be catastrophic – no not for the Family, which can look after itself, but for the enthusiast(s) who first proposed the idea of ousting Manmohan Singh and replacing him with Rahul Gandhi; nobody wanted to be at the receiving end of the “off with his/her head” syndrome. Everybody knows who will get the credit if the GOP returns to power. In all this halla-gulla, nobody spared a thought for the Great-Rescuer-cum-Fall-Guy Manmohan Singh. One has a sneaking feeling that Mr. Singh was the most relieved person after having announced his retirement from the race for PM’s gaddi. If you have read Enoch Powell’s Joseph Chamberlain, you would be familiar with these words, “All political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.”

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