Ten Constitutional Changes and a Mango Lassi
…need a Prime Minister who can explain this to the nation. This is where I miss the Nehrus, and Vajpayees, and the Vishwanath Prataps of yester years. Manmohan Singh over the past years has alarmingly proved his impotence as a leader, and while we are at it, an honest impotent leader. The new-India seem to care more about the “honest” part than the political impotence part. The new-India does not seem to hate political impotence, they just hate politicians making more money than them.
A month or two back, over a hundred thousand workers marched in Delhi in what was one of the biggest protest marches the national capital region has seen in recent years. Do you know what their demands were? I didn’t see it on TV. Did you? BBC and Reuters reported it though. Only the BBC and Reuters, whose propaganda it is to portray India as a poor country with no workers rights, social security, and with one of the highest food inflations in the world. A week back, Medha Patkar’s fast entered it’s eighth day. Yeah right, eighth day. I didn’t see the TV channels exploding. Did you? Is there something we are missing or something missing in all of us. If the collective conscience of a nation does it’s reality check based on reality TV, when what is playing on TV determines our political priorities, it speaks a little tiny bit about ourselves.
I would like 10 Constitutional changes and a mango lassi to go with that
Like Shanti Bhushan and Anna Hazare want the Lokpal panel discussions televised. Policy making should be like MTV Roadies, or so they say. And as a tax paying citizen who votes, I chose the government representatives, I wonder who chooses the “Civil Society” representatives. Then I wonder why the civil society representation has no women in it. So much for civil society. I am not nitpicking here, a policy making committee in our country now has men (only men, and all upper caste men) who made back door entry through a well televised protest, and my “well educated aam aadmi” friends are asking me not to trust people who I elected, and trust people I did not elect. This I find irrational. The incredible arrogance of that, as P.Sainath put it.
And then last week another random Baba ordered an ala-carte of ten constitutional changes he would like to have, and decided that unless the democratically elected government of the country gives it to him, like they did with the demands of another individual a few weeks back, he would go on a fast unto death. The democratically elected government of the country went overboard to prevent, and once it started, end, the peaceful, Gandhian protest by this Baba and over a thousand of his followers. Even after the government assured the Baba of the steps it would take to meet his demands, this Baba reneged on his written promise to end his peaceful, Gandhian protest, thereby lying to his followers and rendering his protest non-Gandhian. Once the Baba cheated them, to be precise, within minutes of the Baba cheating them, the democratically elected government of the country suddenly realized it’s larger constitutional responsibility, and also the mammoth power entrusted in it (this includes nuclear weapons and one of the largest standing armies in the world), and ordered a local Superintendent of Police to go arrest the man.
The Baba had obtained permission to do Yoga at the historic Ramlila Maidan, and as per the government, this was the first time Yoga was creating a law and order situation. They were wrong – Bhagwan Rajneesh’s Yoga had set a historic precedent in Oregon state of the United States, and unless one is a strong supporter of communal riots and tearing down mosques, nothing good has ever come out of the ‘JaiSriRam’ crowd over the past thirty years. Also to note Sadhvi Ritambara (known for her incendiary anti-Muslim oration and implicated in the Babri Masjid terrorist strike) was with the Baba, dreaming and fasting for a corruption free India.
Back to the incident, as the police cordon tightened the Baba refused to be arrested, and over the mike (goes to show he is a political novice) asked his women followers to form a ring around him, and then, on live television, his followers started pelting bricks at the police rendering his protest violent. Now there is this adage in Kerala, where reportedly every child is a protester at birth, that when you deal with the police force in a volatile situation, you can try to bend them, but never break them.
What happened in Delhi after that was sheer brutality by the police force. Nothing new, the same brutality, workers and students protesting across India are subjected to on a daily basis, the same brutality Dalits complain about in the southern hemispheres of our national newspapers, the same brutality peasants and tribals stripped of their ancient lands go through as their protests get muted. To be precise, the police used only tear gas and lathis, not even rubber bullets and water cannons, so it was much better. Like that other adage in Kerala, our police is much better than other states, they badmouth and once in a while beat us up, while in other states they rape and murder.
Bollocks (word of Anglo-Saxon origin, refers to testicles)
The reason the government gave for chucking Baba Ramdev out of Delhi can be called Bollocks. Rather very childish bollocks. A democratic nation needs the safety valve of protests in the interim of elections to lobby and influence the legislative process. It is a basic human right, and in our eternal struggle to catch up with China, India should give breaking up peaceful protests a miss. The Hindu fanatic mobilisation and the Baba’s squeamish immorality notwithstanding, armed police action against a public protest is deeply condemnable, and it displayed the Indian state’s rampant tendency to bark at public protests of it’s choice and bite at certain protests. The biting part usually reserved for worker’s strikes and peasant protests, was in this particular case oddly pointed at televised air-conditioned protests of the new-India with islands in Scotland and Wales. Surprising.
But what is important here is the government’s official response after the crackdown. We as citizens didn’t know who was in charge. To a nation waiting for answers, there wasn’t any. The government could have easily pointed out the political reason behind the crackdown, and that reason is justifiable. One of the largest groups supporting the Baba was a group called Youth Against Corruption also known as ABVP (was formed just in time by BJP’s student wing), VHP was shipping it’s cadre to Jantar Mantar for a new kar-seva, RSS had openly started mobilising cadre for the protests – all signs of a farcial hindu fundamentalist attempt at the central government. And in search of the real political reason, one needs to look no further than the heartland. No further than UP.
With Jagan Reddy’s by-election sending clear signals of where Andhra is heading come 2014, the Congress needs either a good showing or a powerful alliance in UP, and INC’s ability to dictate terms in UP is all dependent on it’s showing in the assembly elections. As for the BJP, surely there will be no Delhi without UP. These are real numbers, not bollocks. In UP, Mayawati had announced her intentions to advance the UP elections to possibly end of this year, and then Rahul Gandhi joined the famer’s protest in UP, Congress announced the Kisan Manch mobilization, BJP announced Ram Rajya as it’s poll plank for UP, and nd then all of a sudden Ramdev happens, taking the wind out of the violent farmer protests in UP. The day after his arrest Ramdev asks for permission to continue his strike in UP. Not Mumbai, not BJP cities like Ahmadabad or Bhopal, but UP. And Mayawati knowing the Baba is a black sheep and a trojan horse, said “Bollocks!”.
A new 7 Race Course and a Prime Minister to go with
See the reason can be political, but you need a leader to take responsibility, and be able to explain to the polity where we are headed. This is where I miss the Nehrus, and Vajpayees, and the Vishwanath Prataps of yester years. UPA government faces a vacuum when it comes to leadership. Digvijay Singh is the only person speaking the politics of matters, in a party that vacillates between soft-Hindutva and it’s secular constitutional obligations. I am a pseudo-secular citizen(isn’t that what they call people who want Narendra Modi in jail), and I expect the government to crush any right wing misadventures because I cannot have another Babri Masjid like terror attack or another Punjab or another Gujarat. Corruption when compared to right wing fundamentalism is a lower priority issue for me, because the India where I live 20 years from now could be a Pakistan or a Rajapaske Lanka or a Gujarat if right wing forces are not defeated every single time they seem to have an upper hand. Because my India is a Sufi, and I would like to have it that way.
But I need a Prime Minister who can explain this to the nation. Manmohan Singh over the past years has alarmingly proved his impotence as a leader, and while we are at it an honest impotent leader. The new-India seem to care more about the “honest” part than the political impotence part. The new-India does not seem to hate political impotence, they just hate politicians making more money than them.
I am not saying I need another Prime Minister, all I am saying is it would be great if Manmohan Singh could just step down, and someone, my first choice being Rahul Gandhi step into seven Race Course. Rahul Gandhi will never be able to say “it’s these arseholes around me who are corrupt, I am a nice guy, but I have no power”. Vajpayee and V.P.Singh who managed crazy coalitions never shirked responsibility. When his own party man Narendra Modi killed thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, Vajpayee didn’t do much. But he said “what face will I show to other nations now”. Yeah, that’s how you lead a nation, that exactly how we felt those days, each and every pseudo-secular Indian, and that’s why leadership is called the face of a nation. We haven’t had that spirit here since 2004. Manmohan is a failure, Manmohan must go. And as someone put it, need someone in 7 Race Course who can call out the dancing Sushma Swaraj in Rajghat saying Rajghat wouldn’t have been built in 1948 if the essential philosophy of hate her party subscribes to wasn’t there in the first place.
In looking for a solution, all of us should have the basic humility displayed by one of the one hundred thousand workers who marched in Delhi, Akhil Samantray who had come from Orissa to take part in the march said “We have come here so that our voices reverberate inside the house (parliament) and they can see what pain the common man is going through”. Yeah voices should reverberate inside the house of democracy where each and every individual of this country is represented, and if my MP does not act on the burning issues the workers, the marginalized, and the middle-class of this country faces, I will press my forefinger on the voting machine and set the Republic straight. And for the time being I would like to my government to ward off Babas, Swamys, Lawyers, Nobel Prize Winners, Film fare winners, pimps, and other lowlifes who try to hijack this democracy.
And for an immediate solution, we need a new Prime Minister, and if possible someone elected to the Lok Sabha. I’ll tell you why. I think this nation is in trouble and we have been rudderless for long, we have GDP’s growth numbers but no direction estimates. India is marching forward, but we are unsure about where we are marching. Because we have the highest number of poor people in the world, and one third of our kids are malnourished. Because right wing politics all across the world including the Nazis and even the BJP have come to power raising a hailstorm around corruption. So I need a leader who can explain that corruption is just a symptom and the bigger infection is somewhere else. I need a coalition which ensures there is social control over the leader, like the left did in UPA-I years. This is all politics, and this opportunity to set things right is the beauty of politics. And I think we need a leader who can set things right. And if you want to call him a politician, you can call him a politician.