By: T R Jawahar
Imagine a Kollywood pot boiler in which there are only villains and comedians. Now, who would rescue the familiar damsel in distress? And if indeed someone tries, what would be her fate, given the character of the cast? The political parties are currently playing one such tragic joke on the nation, a distressed damsel ever in the dumps, thanks to them.
Two aspects figure prominently in the imbroglio: Allies and lies, constituting the actors and the script respectively of the democratic drama. But first to the second. The bluff on parade is unprecedented. What we see and hear is not what’s actually happening. A couple of samples from the chief protagonists: None less than the PM of the country declares that any movement on the N-deal would be made only after Parliamentary clearance. And then within hours he makes a nocturnal knock on the IAEA doors in an unconscionable act of official deceit. The pack of official lies also includes the spin about the provisions of the safeguards agreement being top secret, whereas they are not!
The Left for its part feigns surprise and shock over the PM’s move. Now, the economist might have economised on truth vis-a-vis the country on procedural matters, but he certainly did not lie to the Left on his intent. On the contrary, we learn that at each of the committee meetings with the Left on the N-deal over the last two years, the UPA had categorically communicated along with specific details that the deal would be pushed through, come what may. For the Left to be talking of betrayal now is a blatant bluff. And it’s bad press too for them, to be at the receiving end of a joke by a Sardar!
The coats of lies clearly conceal deeper intrigues though it is not clear what they are. But the Cong’s unseemly haste in pushing for the deal at all costs, MSingh’s personalised approach to Uncle Sam and Sonia’s stony silence in the face of a regime fall, all raise genuine doubts about the deal. It would suffice to say that a nuclear scandal would be more explosive than booming Bofors! Again, a lot of constitutional hair-splitting is happening over whether the PM sought a trust vote or the President bid him to seek one. But the question begging to be asked is: Why did not the Left, which is so agitated over the deal, follow up its red-letter withdrawal notice by bringing a no-confidence motion in Parliament, as and when it is convened. Is that not the most natural thing to do? One can clearly perceive a shadow fight between the ‘secular’ comrades in arms, the Left and Cong. A red-letter can always be trashed, but a no-trust move would live to haunt even after the next polls, if not for posterity. Also, a door ajar is a door not closed, just in case! Trust secularism to stage a comeback once the US imperialism Vs Nuke-for-nation issue is settled during the trust vote.
We will travel the short distance from lies to allies. The Left having left for now, leaving the UPA Government in the lurch, the Samajwadi Party which left the UPA not very long ago, has lost no time in taking off from where the Left had left: Amar Singh and Co, who were waiting at the gates for the Left to leave, were inside RBhavan with their letter of support even before Prez Prathiba could finish reading P Karat’s letter of withdrawal. My strong suspicion is that the SP is a plant by the Left to steer the Congress through the rest of the term so that the comrades, having hunted with the power hounds for four years can take a symbolic run with the hare, read people, till the polls. The seamless passing of the baton of support proves this. But whatever the motives, the sudden change of fortunes must be quite mortifying for Mulayam!
So how come this Sonia-slayer of 1999 vintage has turned saviour? Strange are the ways of secularism but there is more behind that smokescreen. The proof of an alliance is in the spin-offs and the paytime has already started. The CBI is back to checking on Mayawati’s treasure trove, leaving Mulayam and Sons at peace for the time. Amar Singh is already in the thick of promoting and lobbying for business houses. The heads of P.Chidambaram and Murli Deora, Finance and Petroleum Ministers respectively, have already been sought. Quite a few plum portfolios in the cabinet, not to speak of posts like CBI directorship, are on the SP shopping list. Many Cong strongholds in UP are up for grabs by SP. We have no information if Jayapradha, Jaya Bachchan and the like would become Governors or Ambassadors, but that is likely. Yet, the Cong is more than willing to oblige. How conveniently national interest coincides with vested interests!
Even more fortuitous is the fate of petty parties and Independents. Remember those one-vote-wonders like Saifuddin Soz and Giridhar Gomango of the past? As the magic figure of 271 beckons again, tradeable horses, single or in small packs, are in great demand. And they have demands too; The JMM, Deve Gowda and Ajit Singh with three apiece and the TRS with one along with sundry other outfits have asked for creation of new States, among other other things, as barter for Parliamentary support. What a tragedy that such fractional fringes have the gall to determine the nation’s geography! The IAEA and the US seem easier customers and the N-deal a trivial contract compared to these wheelers and their dealings.
Down here in TN, the PMK, out of DPA will however be with UPA. The MDMK, originally with UPA, but now nowhere, with four horses, er, MPs, will split … two for and against. The DMK will stick with the UPA at centre and also keep the comrades in the DPA here. That’s how secular rationalism (or rational secularism) works here. The AIADMK, the architect who demolished the NDA edifice in 1999, will watch proceedings on TV this time.
The slog overs of the UPA innings is likely to be quite rewarding for the tail enders. Now with so much at stake in so little time, who would spare a thought for damsels in distress?