Thursday, April 2, 2009

I is Back!

Phew. That was a long bout of bloggers' bloc. I have been silent even as a new disorder called karimullahphobia was discovered, fears were expressed over a government supported by "two fat women", a Modi besides the BJP butcher got more political coverage and a grandson took to mimicking the antics of his grandfather as though facial and nomenclature-al resemblances were not enough.Sigh. This Is the 'dance of democracy' and my rhythm is all awry!

Anyhow, better late than never, as the saying goes, and so I inaugurate my own chronicle of this election season which will be momentous for many reasons, not the least because I will be casting my vote for the first time. Yes, it took 6.5 years and the Mumbai blasts and Tata Tea to get me to fulfill my duty to Mother India, repay my debts etc etc. After all, it's for my children :P

First of all, Sidin Vadakut, hitherto known to me as a immensely amusing and eminently readable blogger, dispenses some useful gyan on some of the better sources of online information on the elections.

Then, there is the famous interview by Barkha Dutt of Sanjay Dutt and Amar Singh. It's an awesome piece and not just because Amar Singh and Sanjay Dutt are such natural partners(Amar Singh is stupidly eloquent and Sanjay Dutt is eloquently stupid). Those 41 minutes, with all the contradictions, the interruptions and vacillations, provide a fascinating view into some of the engines that run Indian politics. Amar Singh(who definitely was providing the cues for 'Munnabhai') managed to cast aspersions on the Congress, the Communists, Vir Sanghvi, the CBI, the Supreme Court and yet refused to go all out as he had to keep in mind the possibility of "doing business" with them. The only permanent enemy seemed to be Mayawati(with whom the SP has done business before). Most if the innumerable political parties that dominate India's political spectrum are of similar persuasion, negotiating an unending set of political and social permutations. Rank opportunism and greed play a huge part no doubt, yet these phenomena also say something of the inherent flexibility of representative democracy in India and the constant search and failure of organizations to forge the optimum social coalitions. This is why I suppose we 'adore' middlemen and fixers like Amar Singh and the late Pramod Mahajan.

Another interesting fact that struck me was how the Congress is benefiting from a perception shared by many regarding its 'weak' leadership. Manmohan Singh has been pilloried as the weakest PM ever with L.K Advani challenging him to a debate and making much of the lack of response. Sonia Gandhi, on the other hand has built up a reputation of being impossible to get through to. What is fascinating is that Sonia Gandhi's inaccessibility and Manmohan Singh's general good nature/weakness, while providing the impression of a vacuum, also permit ex-allies and potential allies to criticize and ridicule the Congress while exonerating Manmohan and Sonia from most of the blame. Notice how Amar Singh and Dutt make it a point to express the deepest regard for Sonia and Manmohan. The same strategy was recently employed with great distinction by the ever-ingenious Lalu Yadav.

So the regional parties and the Congress get to go all out against each other even as they try to reach adjustments. In the event of their failing to achieve the latter, they fight each other and post-elections, the whole paltan gets back together without any loss of face. Post-poll alliances, as Yogendra Yadav pointed out today, are what will most probably decide the fate of the next government and most of the protagonists of the drama have made sure all doors are open. Just like Amar Singh.

Of course, the downside to all of this is that(to quote Yadav) "sub-optimal alliances are always a sub-optimal option for the people.". Or to summarize, we are most likely screwed, but then, we are most likely screwed anyway!
Cheerful way to begin election analysis no?

PS. The interview is to be specifically noted for Amar Singh's reference to Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata being "domesticated"(somewhere around the 23rd minute) and for Sanjay's own idea of the role of his wife(the 30th minute). But then, what is a little chauvinism among politicians?


Anonymous said...

Now I'm depressed. There's no new reason to be, because I firmly believe in the truth that we are meant to be screwed - but your articulation just hit home!

Quirky Indian

Prasanth said...

The burden of the truth mate; the burden of the truth! :)

keep similing said...

It is nice to see you blogging again Prasanth. Keep it up

Prasanth said...

@keep smiling
Welcome! and thanks :)