Saturday, July 26

Whose Trust Is It Anyway

It has been four weeks off the air - but one doubts if any piece of history has been missed waiting to sprout. Sundry stories of 'human interest' - that quaint journalistic quirk - have jostled for mindspace with a strangely muted run-up to the Olympics and quintessential theatrics of a US presidential race. Elsewhere, a roller-coaster of oil prices has been the headline in an overall gloomy prediction for world economy. In any case, these have now passed beyond the realm of speculation to ostrich-like accepted fact. All told, in the search for where to take Echohum to post the modest debut in the last weekend of June, there has not been much to report but sterile intention.

At an individual level too, the past month was humdrum existence. Attempts to break the monotony via 'Weekend Getaways from Delhi' proved mostly unsuccessful. In sports (including armchair variety), despair was unusually consistent. Sample this: a change in tenancy of Wimbledon Centre Court, another vote for Spanish conquistadorial instinct at Europe 2008 and two forgetful outings for Kimi (retirement in Canada and frittered pole at Magny Cours). Team India's last hurdle capitulation (simultaneous loss of batting form and proverbial Dhoni luck) too was par for the course but my forecast's accuracy would hardly be cheer enough. In short, Echohum's virtual journey may well be cathartic.

As things stand, the best argument for memorable vs passing moment during the interregnum came from in-the-end-not-so-close governmental arithmetic exercise that went by the name of 'Vote of Trust'. Despite my natural inclination towards things political and established prurient interest in intrigue in high places, this latest offering of political suspense left more bad taste than potential for honest drawing-room gossip, with some apprehension as to who and how governs We, the People.

Reasons for such cynicism are plenty, starting with the actual proceedings in the Parliament. The debate (if one can call it that) around whether Shri Somnath Chatterjee should owe more to the symbol adorning his electoral ballot or so-called propriety in putting constitutional kursi first, was a chapter in the decline and fall of probity in public life. Indeed, one almost believed this solitary vote represented a national crisis: multiple TV channels ran helter-skelter for a soundbyte on whence-Speaker, plus platitudes offered on the subject by opinion-makers of all ilk. Of course, as is the wont in these cases, the ink has not yet dried on this one; the bitterness continues as these words are being written.

Frankly, apart from these 'concerns' on the Chair, one does not know what else to note from the discussion leading up to the vote. Inane opening remarks by the PM, zero-surprise rebuttal from the Leader of Opposition and a series of speakers whose earth-shattering postulates were given a total miss by the two newspapers and three news channels one sampled - but for three exceptions.

The first two of these were scions of prominent political families. Both tried to balance party affiliations coursing through their veins with an attempt at apolitical, hope-in-the-youth appearance. The mainstream media sources cited above made suitably nostalgic noises, harking back to glory-hallelujah Rajiv Gandhi days when talking of this duo. Who cares for the mismatch between intention and delivery in respect of Mr Clean (post the original remarks in the mid-80s Bombay Congress plenary) - hope springs eternal, they say.

The third personality given generous coverage was this irrepressible Hindi heartland comic act who his die-hard supporters (much shrunk as their numbers may now be in his erstwhile fiefdom) would have us believe is Lord Krishna reincarnate. The post being already long enough, with more due, one shall refrain from waxing eloquent on him. Suffice it to say for now that his posturing, like the dynastic hopes mentioned earlier, was completely sterile even if characteristically entertaining. It killed me (sorry Salinger).

Of the spectacle of currency notes being held aloft, much has been said (and captured for posterity by news TV). Yet one could not help but wonder if this was akin to classical conditioning tell-show-do, an acknowledgment of our polity's passage in horse-trading acumen from insinuation to omnipotence-omnipresence. It was almost Freudian to watch money being waved on screen over the heads of Hon members as if the nation needed to reminded of the lure of lucre and the multiple-choice bidding: thou shalt switch sides (albeit temporarily), cross vote, or merely abstain! Like l' affaire Somnath, this one plays on.

Who's Left? Pardon the pun, but let me skip the rest of shenanigans - Sonia ji, Mayawati ji, Amar Singh ji et al - and talk of M/s Karat and Co. What has never ceased to amaze me about this branch of the democratic family is the remarkable insularity of their world-view and dogged pursuit of 'high moral ground' that simply does not gel with their backgrounds. The average Leftist is not illiterate, yet manages to be amazingly illogical - and current cracks in the citadel notwithstanding - the entire flock toes the same line, Gulag or no Gulag, and a Nandigram to you if you disagree!

To analyze Karat-speak, a quick history tour is instructive. During Quit India and just after Independence, the Party advocated the British cause, going so far as to label our Freedom-at-Midnight 'fake'. Next, in the 1962 War debacle (and later), they sounded suspiciously similar to their comrades north of the MacMohan Line. Now, after a near-full term stint of power-without-accountability, Shri Karat & Co decide to pull the plug. No, not for rising prices, economic reform or any such issue more in keeping with their avowed shibboleths, but a Nuclear Deal. Apart from perfunctory noises of it being anti-Muslim, Marx and Lenin followers did not even attempt to provide reasons for opposition to the pact. As a matter of fact, it is unclear as to what they gained now (or will, as and when elections do happen) politically or otherwise.

One wonders if there's more to this anachronistic anti Americanism, especially given the extent of nuclear power acceptance in China (all set to overtake France in civilian energy use). Their odd argument of retaining the military testing option too ought to come more naturally to the BJP - certainly not the Commies, given their vociferous opposition to Pokharan II or consequent nuclear armament policy. Perhaps some day Com Karat can enlighten us why (it is beyond imagination to expect anything consequential from Shri Yechury). Until then, it is an idle mind or thick skin that would try decipher method in the Left's madness.

All in all, a month's hiatus summarized by a Tuesday tale: a 'victory' that may be Pyrrhic, a 'vote' of no note, and 'confidence' alas...


Mahesh Misra said...

The somnath chatterjee debate owes itself to much deeper considerations. His constituency being reserved post delimitation and a long-standing undercurrent with comrade karat being other factors apart from the fact that once a constitutional position has been obtained, one ought to d-link the party from the position.(IMHO)

I am bemused at the nation-wide shock on the flexible morals on display during the trust vote. when a lady has agreed to accomodate a political party known have played a part in her husband's killing, what more can surprise anyone? Beats me.

Rahul said...

It took a while coming, but finally when it did, it seems to have captured even the finer details that otherwise would have escaped attention especially the pre parliament ones, as the latter seems to have left an idelible mark in the minds of people in general and on the Indian Democracy in particular. Whatever political debates that we may get into w.r.t the chair, coalition politics, regional influences, my strong belief keeps getting stronger about the fact that only way out of this mess is to somehow contain the likes of incarnations of Krishna, BMW's and the Pehelwans' of Politics and their bete noires' and bring them to submission by constitutionalising Bi-Party politics in the State.

Sivakumar said...

I Echo your comments. Thinking a little bit more, Humm, I would not expect any less than this spectacular performance from our politicians.

What then is left to echo and hum about is where do we point fingers.

AK said...

Alright!!! So, our dear friend is quite enraged with the recent happenings of parliament...but why??? Guess!!! we all enjoyed the was inspired by one of our Hindi flick's courtroom climax scene... the hero is about to be sentenced for life and right before the final verdict the heroine gets the alibi and our hero is saved...Wow!!!

Mind you, its not some flop hero that we are talking about here, its the King(Mr. Singh)of the industry...while he was undergoing this trial the country's share market dwindled...God knows how many investors were on the verge of suicide... The Central Bureau Of Investigation (equivalent to FBI...ha ha ha) left the famous Arushi murder case and helped the heroine in blackmailing the prosecutor's eyewitnesses to speak in favor of our King... The trial thawed a nuclear deal.... More so... right after our hero was told "you are free to go (rule)" the fireworks rocked Bangalore & Ahmedabad...What a way to celebrate victory...

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Until we unite next..wish you luck for the third...its eagerly awaited...