Saturday, July 19, 2008

SOS from the sinking ship

SOS from a sinking ship
By Susenjit Guha

If the Congress is what it was many decades earlier, then, why the fate of the Congress party is dependent on nondescript small players with whom it had refused to have any truck in the past?

Never before in the history of Indian politics had money flown around so freely and blatantly before a trust vote which will rehabilitate or perhaps take away whatever credibility remains of the Congress party in national politics.

And the time has come for some serious stock taking of the esteem with which Dr. Manmohan Singh is held. Criticism has been stepped up since he went ahead with his one point agenda of doing the N-deal with the US. Signs of gratification--- seen whenever Musharraf met Bush---did not sit well on India's Prime Minister when he met the most unpopular US President on the sidelines of the G 8 summit few weeks back.

That brings us to the inevitable question of the Congress party's credibility which is on the wane.
Nowadays, Rahul Gandhi looks more like his father: a be-spectacled Rajiv Gandhi, when he rode the crest of popularity among India's youth. Tired of vintage Congressmen and their politics, the youth in the eighties took to him like ducks to water.

Congressmen are now banking on a repeat performance from his son---which in these trying times they make themselves believe as there cannot be any other alternative---which may have urged Rahul Gandhi to try and separate the old from the young across party lines. According to him, all young MP's of India support the deal while---which he did not say, but it was implied---fossils in the Left and across other parry lines vehemently oppose it.

Some time back Rahul Gandhi played to the gallery in his ancestral constituency of Amethi by lauding the Congress read his grandmother's achievement of deciding and then managing to break up Pakistan in 1971. All this happened when Indo-Pak relations were on the mend. But the head honchos of the government failed to turn up at former Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw's funeral. He saved precious lives of Indian forces by refusing to attack East Pakistan in April and drown them in the deluge that characterises the nation's monsoon.

If the Congress is what it was many decades earlier, then, why the fate of the Congress party is dependent on nondescript small players with whom it had refused to have any truck in the past?

Why convicts have to be brought over to be present on D-day, the make or break day of the trust vote?

Why one MP political parties on the fringes of state politics have to be compensated more than they are worth?

And we all know the past of Shibu Soren and the stand taken by Dr. Manmohan Singh against him in the past. Does he know anything about the N-deal, leave alone having a clear stand on the issue? But his support of 5 MP's is vital for a sinking Congress party even if it means foregoing the coal ministry for his sake.

Banking on the Akalis to go with a Sikh Prime Minister has not worked. They will vote against the Congress.

In West Bengal, at this critical juncture, a major Congress leader has broken ranks to float another party.

Even the Samajwadi Party, the professed saviour and antidote for the Left's withdrawal, is finding it difficult to keep its flock together with the general secretary and some other MP's careening towards Mayawati who looms large in Uttar Pradesh.

If something new has come about in this power play in Indian politics, it is her name for the candidature of Prime Minister. We have had a Dalit President, so why not a Dalit Prime Minister if she can outgrow UP and come out of the confines of UP politics?

If at all we have to emulate a big power like the US, we should take a lesson how a black man came into reckoning for the White House for the first time in the nation's history along with a woman who may have lost the nomination, but cleared the ground for a future woman President. Real changes on the ground for perhaps more path-breaking changes Americans can really believe in.

And what have we been doing? Trying hard to get into the good books of a US President, who is regularly breaking new records in unpopularity not only in the US, but in nations considered as their traditional allies.

Why the overkill to get through the deal when it is nearly impossible for the most unpopular US President in the world to impact or see through its successful outcome?

Or, is there a fear that the next president may strike it off since many in the US are against the deal?

Can we ignore growing US involvement in Pakistan which may directly impact India if we slide under the so called strategic cover or alliance which critics are talking about?
There have been very few debates about the hazards of nuclear reactors in the US and other developed countries. It is common practice by the developed nations to pass off polluting and disastrous industries to developing countries eager to eat out of their hands.

But now the events of July 22 should be eagerly watched. Anything can happen in politics and in India; parameters are getting lower and lower during crunch times.

One thing is for sure.

The Congress is very unsure about the future which is a far cry from the heady magic of the past which had helped it to romp home with resounding victories. It is evident from the ludicrous logic and arguments put forward by some commentators on prime time television which may have gone down well in a monarchy with moronic subjects, but not with an emerging India where the electorate can only be taken for granted by political parties closeted in the past, not ideologically, but practically.

After all who would argue that money into politics was nothing new since Gandhiji too had accepted money from industrial houses? That is the problem. Confusing the nationalistic compulsions with the present trust vote at a time when the Congress cannot stand by itself.
The real enemy of the Congress is not the BJP or the Left. It is the inability to realize that it has ghosted.

Stakes are different in 2008. Nearly every state has its share of regional players itching to assert themselves and get whatever they can all that they could not have bargained for earlier if the country had not been brought to this state for the N-deal when inflation, around 12% with no signs of going down, is hitting stomachs across India.

Meanwhile the price bar for MP's is on the rise.

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