Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Election 2009

This year's election has been long over, a new government installed, and the result has been hailed in the media and the blogosphere in general as a victory for stability, for youth, for defeat of religious fundamentalism, and for development. I differ with these views on many counts as I do not think that voters throughout the country have come together and voted this present combine to power, in order to achieve all this. For example, if we look at the Mumbai results, Congress would not have won if SS and MNS did not divide their votes between themselves. So, the result is more due to the complexity of electoral arithmatic that the Congress/UPA played better than their opponents. If there is a single underlying trend, it is the consolidation of Muslim votes towards the winniers and away from the losers. More of electoral arithmatic there.

I am writing this not for analysing the results.. I am not qualified to do that, and also there have been some excellent analyses already. I shall extensively link my post to columnist Santosh Desai's op-eds in the TOI. For analysis, read this: Analyzing the constant election analysis ,
then this: What the election results say about us.

What particularly depresses me is the ascend and more ascend of Dynasty in Indian politics. My deeply-ingrained democratic outlook cannot ever conform to this. The whole thing is nauseating to me. Look at who have won: the INC -- once a party of stalwarts, now reduced to a single-family owned loyalty-to-the-family-bound party (I do not belive Rahul Gandhi will ever seriously do anything to topple the system where he and his immediate family are is the main beneficiaries... we all have noticed how he often mentions his 'family' in his speeches, almost equating it with Congress and India); the NC (the Abdullahs); the DMK (Karunanidhi and his children from many wives).... no need to give any more example. The parties which are based on families and personalities rather than on core ideologies have done better. For that matter, I do not think much of ideologies, becasue that pushes a a party towards dogma and rigidity, but then in a matured democracy it is also not desired that if a situation arises where the core leadership of a major political party suddenly gets eliminated by a mishap, the whole party collapses!

The parties that are structured and where power does not flow down bloodlines, are, on the one side of the spectrum, the leftist parties, and on the other, the BJP. Both have done comparatively poorly in the hustings. I cannot think this is a good trend... I'd not like to die seeing Priyanka's son as the future PM... :(

Please read anothe excellent article from the same santosh Desai that appeared on the 8th June's TOI: Dynasty: Undemocratic but alive and kicking

If we look at the media, almost the whole of the English media is partisan... we have seen Pronnoy Roy visibly getting irritated when he spoke with an NDA fellow -- smile returned to his lips only when the bearded face of Suresh Kalmadi came back into his focus again :) Less open in his bias, and (cleverly) subtler in his analysis, is Vir Sanghvi. He will occasionally even write against the dynastic politics, but his main focus then will be on the Karunanidhis and the Sharad Pawars, and not on the Gandhis (who I think are the real fountainhead of this dynastic malaise). He will also deride the Congress some times in his articles, but then it will be against Sheila Dikshit and her BRT corridor, which will be, needless to say, sweet music to the ears of the High Command! Sanghvi's masterstroke, however, is to regularly trash P V Narasimha Rao, never failing to use the term 'crook' to describe this ex-PM, who probably for the first time in recent history posed a real danger to the family, who was the harbinger of economic liberalization, did many more good things (I’ll write later on him), but who also allegedly bribed JMM (now now, what a coincidence, Manmohan Singh has also been alleged to do so in the aftermath of Left withdrawing their support during his last term, but then, as ironical as irony can go, one is termed a crook and the other a saviour, for committing the same sin!)!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Fallout

The unlikeliest victim of the recent elections has been . . .er . . . my dear wife, and for the unlikeliest reason! The joy of living has been wiped off from her face, so to say, by a single, ruthless stroke!
Looking back, I can clearly see that the dark clouds did not simply pop out of thin air; they gathered in bits and pieces, over time, unseen and unnoticed…
The most important character of this story is my father-in-law. Gentleman to the core, always gives way to others, always ready to lend a helping hand. Even in arguments, his tone is persuasive, and his patience is endless.
He is not meek, though. I have actually seen him getting angry once or twice. In one such occasion, he had accompanied me to a railway booking counter where a young tout broke into our queue and though there were some murmurs of protest, nobody could actually do anything about it. FIL watched this brazen act for some time, and when it became unbearable, with a few long steps he reached the guy, wrapped his strong arm around his waist, and simply threw him out! And the fellow just fled the place with his tail tucked in! With his six feet height and athletic build (a very good footballer in his times who also played tennis), FIL can inspire genuine awe in wicked hearts when he desires.
His only weakness lies in his soft corner for the CPI(M) party. The party always has to be right -- here he has very little patience for any contrary argument. His support is purely ideological. Never have been a party member, nor does he visit the party office; I doubt if the party even knows that such a loyal supporter exists. We are well aware of this weakness of his and the golden rule to follow is, avoid political arguments as much as you can. But hara-kiri is still committed sometimes !
My mind goes back to the days when my parents-in-law visited us in Delhi around one and a half years back. They arrived from a Bengal where issues like Nandigram and Singur had been in full boil then. The whole Bong diaspora of the world were passionately debating them. To add to Buddhababu’s already filled cup of woes, the infamous Rizwanur murder (or suicide) took place just at such a time. In our drawing room, like many other Bong drawing rooms, we debated animatedly on the case -- I and my wife terming it murder or at best instigated suicide, FIL seeing it as a plain case of suicide that the media had been hyping up just to defame the left front govt. (the party line). Things were turning so hot that I felt it prudent to slip out from there. But it was already too late. FIL chased me into the next room, calling me in a loud voice, “Listen, S**** (here he took my full name including the surname… in other words, I had it on the full blast), I am telling you this now, and you will get proof of it soon, blah blah...” (I do not remember now his line of argument, but whatever it was, it was meant to be the closing line of the chapter… no arguments, baas). And yes, I better accept this, my state was not much different from that of the above-mentioned tout-in-the-queue. I mean, the tail propahly tucked under! Later when my BIL came to know about the incident (he was in Kolkata when it happened), he heartily laughed on the phone for a whole minute.
This year, just before the elections, we all met again, in Bangalore, at my BIL’s place. While on a sightseeing trip, we had the imprudence (again!) to delve into the matter of the coming elections, and naturally the political temperature within the family rose again. Left Front, or Mamata – which way should it be this time? My wife, her brother and the brother’s wife, though their hearts still lying with the left and in no ways with Mamata, argued vociferously that the lefts should be shown the door in this election. FIL, needless to say, equally vociferously argued back, with a lot many dismissive grunts thrown in. MIL and I more or less acted as neutral umpires, and when the talks were getting too hot, veered it to something else, something docile.
Our days at Bangalore passed swiftly, without any more political talks, though, I suspect, the volcano just remained dormant. Our vacation was soon over and we returned to Delhi. Life was back to normal. And then the inevitable happened.
Yeah, you guessed it right, the results were out and the Left received a severe drubbing. We came to know that FIL was sulking deeply. Now, I am not actually aware how the daily telephonic talks went between my wife and her parents in the days that followed, but I know of a particular conversation between my wife and her mother that took place about three or four days after the left’s debacle, which somewhat went like this:
Wife, at the fag end of the chit-chat: Oh Ma, know what? I am not getting this particular sari here; next time we go to Kolkata, I will surely buy some from there.
MIL, in a crestfallen voice: Shobbonash! Hell! How’ll be doing that? Your father has already vetoed it. He said, ‘If S dislikes the state of affairs in Bengal so much, why does she rush here every time to buy saris, that too in dozens? Let her buy them from her beloved Delhi then!’
I leave the story here, and with an ominous note too, as I can see more dark clouds in the horizon, in the form of the not-so-far-away state elections of 2011!