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A nation blindfolded

Friday, 23 April 1999

We are not sure if God frequently surfaces in the form of man, as is commonly believed. But what we can be dead certain is the fact that his arch enemy Satan often manifests himself, especially in India that is Bharat, in the form of politicians. These incarnations of Satan, who are now running amok with the people’s sensibilities, have cast such a nasty spell on the nation that it is well nigh impossible for the prajas who elected them in the first place, to retain even a semblance of sanity.

There could be no other logical explanation to the goings on in the political arena than taking refuge in the unnatural and the irrational. And for the teeming millions who had inflicted this handful of pests on themselves, there could be no other option but to bemoan their fate. The curse, call it the millenium curse, is well and truly upon us.

It would be an understatement to say that there is something very basically wrong with our polity. Things have now come to such a pass that the country can neither move forward nor backward but remain painfully suspended in a maze of anarchy and disorder, a sort of Trisanga naragm.

The scourge of politicians have indeed taken a heavy toll, not only of the nation’s riches but also of its psyche. The epidemic is now all pervading and has invaded the very roots of the country’s integrity and well being thereby impeding its prosperity and peace. Whatever the party, whatever their ideology and hue, when it comes to pursuit of power and pelf, our politicians are at their wily best and very united too in their mission.

If only these characters demonstrate the same solidarity and zeal in nation building, things would have been much different. But alas, their penchant for self-preservation has always won over patriotism, their quest for wealth has always been at the nation’s expense and above all their instinct for survival has always prevailed over the nation’s.

They have always prospered even as the nation disintegrated, and they are always in a position of strength, be it ‘secularism or communalism’ that is at play. But what about the nine hundred and odd million who elected them? They are never in the reckoning.

Even six hundred senses would not suffice to decipher what is going on in the political theatre. Pundits are busy (mis)interpreting the constitution, the President is busy meeting ‘distinguished’ visitors, the politicians are busy flirting between secularism and communalism and the entire country is busy...doing nothing except groping in the dark.

No laudatory obituary can be sung for the Vajpayee government for it always had a foot in the grave from the beginning and its demise was only expected. If it was’nt one ally it would have been somebody else, even its own big brother, the RSS. Rather there were several pall bearers waiting in the wings for the inevitable funeral.

It was always a question of time, like a baby born with a hole in the heart. Yet when Vajpayee ascended the gaddi, the nation did see a ray of hope, because the BJP was touted as the only untested party outside of the omnipresent Congress and the transient Third front. It is solely for this reason that the fall of the BJP government owing to the unrelenting gravitational pulls of itself and its allies- in political parlance it is called weight of own contradictions-merits a lapse into pathos.

The BJP’s contribution in these thirteen months to the pool of national disillusionment has been supreme. If the nation gets pushed into the paws of a Congress rejuvenated by a transfusion of Italian blood, the BJP has itself to blame for the not so grand resurrection of the party of yore from virtual debris.

If there are no tears for the exit of the Vajpayee government, there could be no cheers too about the alternative, even as fears abound about a mid-term poll if current trends are any indication. Congressmen’s appetite for power and intolerance of others enjoying it is legendary.

But what the secular friends of the Congress have failed to see is the party’s preference for absolute power, and not mere crumbs of office. The moment the BJP government had been felled, out jumps the Congress wolf which was in waiting, demanding that it be given the entire pound of flesh. Would the other hounds in the hunt heed the Congress’s aspirations, even if it is for the sake of upholding that dubious concept called secularism? The Congress must be kidding itself. Mulayams know better. But would they be serving the cause of the much bandied about secularism if the ball is lobbed back into the BJP court? Would the nation’s interest be salvaged if fresh polls are ordered?

But as usual it is the people and their nerves that are being put to severe test. They are never a party to deals that have a direct bearing on their bread and butter and in which they are the purported partners and intended beneficiaries too, something that is untenable even under ordinary law. But then there is no point telling that to the lawless politicians.

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The wolf in waiting

Saturday, 10 April 1999

The particular creature, though eminently carnivorous, rarely attacks. This is not to be mistaken for a lack of appetite on its part for its pound of flesh. Rather such a trait is its first nature and decades of experience has taught it that one can still have a full meal by feeding on the carcass without exactly felling the prey.

The Congress, like the wolf, rarely has blood on its paws nor are its fingerprints ever found on the scene of crime, yet it is an open secret that it remains the hidden ?hand and the mastermind behind almost every political coup that is being enacted. When the wolf gets hungry, it loses no time in provoking the hounds for the hunt. The gullible and the why alike fall for the call and go for the kill, and the wolf gets its fill besides the gratification of seeing its enemy decimated owing to its own follies.

The Congress has its own ways and none of them would seem strange, if one really understands its proclivities. Much has been said and written about the Congressmen?s despair when out of power, but there is also no gainsaying the fact that the party still is the best bet for the nation, considering the woeful performance of non-Congress regimes.

This perhaps is the wolf?s biggest advantage, the fact that if others fall then there is always the good old Congress to fall back on. All its past crimes get buried in the turmoil of the present and the party suddenly sees a bright future. There is this growing conviction that the next dispensation is mot certainly going to be a Congress one and we may well start reconciling ourselves to a foreign-born Prime Minister. Howsoever one may resent this sort of democratic colonisation of India, the writing seems to be on the wall.

But that is the future story, and in any case, once in power, the party would easily shed its wolf skin to don a more respectable cloak. The botheration is now about the present when the Congress seems to be at its wolfish best. It wants to hurt but is unwilling to strike. It wants the cake but does not want to pay the price.

It wants the enemy destroyed but would want no part of the blame. And it wants power desperately, but wants it to be delivered, packed and sealed, at its doorstep, on its terms. To put it in more current and popular terms, it would attend tea parties but would refrain from partaking of the tea. What a virtue!

And what a ploy! It is really astonishing that a party which actually lost the polls should be wooed so assiduously by all and sundry and worse still, that it has the temerity to hoist itself on a pedestal and feign disinterest. These modern political Vishvamitras are really a very subtle lot. They surely know how and where to corner their damsels, read power, away from the public eye. And yet it would seem that it was the damsel that threw herself on them. Just watch these conmen sorry Congmen, the next time when they appear on any of those ubiquitous channels. Be it spokesman Ajit Jogi with his trademark grin, the articulate Aiyar and his asides or the scholarly Jairam, their sense of glee at the ongoing turmoil and more particularly at the BJP’s discomfiture is unmistakable.

One cannot also miss the gleam in their eyes as if they have just sighted Mckenna?s gold. From Pranab to Pawar, all exude the air of persons who have scented power. Yet they never say so. Instead they would like to pass it off as if they are no hankering for it. One worthy says that the Congress would not hesitate to fulfil its ‘constitutional obligations’ if the need arose, whatever that means.

Another saint claims that the party is not keen to hasten the end of the BJP regime and would rather wait for the government to fall on its own. But if was their leader who really took the cake for the best performance in malingering when she nonchalantly announced that she would not rush into power knowing full well that she would be pushed into it, in any case.

All this after the Congress showed adequate symptoms of power hunger during the last few weeks preceding the current crises owing to its apprehension that the Vajpayee government may survive after all. This is not to take the blame off the clinched ‘weight of contradictions’ ailment that the ruling combine has been suffering from for long.

And the Sangh Parivar’s misplaced  paranoia is also unwarranted and is a shabby alibi to hide its own shortcomings. But the fact remains that it was the Congress’s palpable restlessness that emboldened the likes of Swamy to get into the act.

Having clandestinely ignited the explosion which was in any case waiting to happen, the party now wants to play truant with the nation?s nerves. But would it not be better for the aspiring PM to stop playing hide and seek, dispense with the cold feet and come clear on how per party is going to fulfil its ‘constitutional obligations’ instead of waiting for it? to happen?

Is not the lure of power enough motivation to walk that extra mile, having come so far? Why this shadow boxing and all this saintly stuff? Who is she fooling? Do the Congressmen really believe that the people can’t tell a wolf from a sheep? Whatever the strategy of the Congress party under the euphoric spell of the current Sonia-mania, it is the nation and its progress that are being held to ransom and any precipitate step without a clear alternative is only going to accentuate the turmoil. The wolf will then have blood on its hands.

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