Tales from India- The Political Circus and More
Syed Ali Mujtaba
In India people look for short cut to fame and success. There are some tried and tested formulas to get there. This holds true about politics as well. There are aspiring political leaders who make impertinent speeches and gain instant publicity.
Take the case of Varun Gandhi, the great grandson of the architect of secular India. He has hit the headlines making inflammable remarks against the Muslim community. Varun says; “This is not a hand [Congress symbol], it is the power of lotus [BJP symbol]. It will cut the head of the Muslims.”
Now imagine if similar words uttered by any Muslim against the Hindu community. What could have been the reaction in the country? A hell might have been let loose and the entire community be flogged for such innuendos.
How Varun Gandhi will be treated after openly inciting hatred among religious communities? One has to wait and watch this case. The general impression is this power drunken politician would get away gaining instant publicity.
Now let me take you to other stories of the great Indian political circus. The tale from the “republic of Bihar” is; its leader Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu Prasad Yadav, the sworn political enemies, have shook hands to fight the Lok Sabha election together. One may recall Paswan had shown his thumbs down to Yadav when the latter was desperate to form the government after the assembly elections. At that time Paswan had sworn to free Bihar from the clutches of the Lalu raj. Now by aligning with Yadav, he has given fillip to the return of the jungle raj in Bihar. Well that’s why Chameleon thy name is Indian politician!
When we are talking about Bihar, Uttar Pradesh is not far way. A diehard communal leader has turned secular. Kalyan Singh, the former UP chief Minister an ardent fan of Hindutva has joined the Samajwadi party. By doing so he now likes to be considered as a secular leader. It was the same Singh who hailed the demolition of Babari masjid an act of piety and preferred jail to acceptance of his complicity in this crime. He now has changed colors and may like ton be accept in his new avatar. This can only happen in India.
A reverse to Kalyan Singh, is the case of Subramiyam Sawamy, the president of the Janata party. Sawamy, a Harvard university Professor and ex finance minister of India has taken shelter under religion for his political survival. He has changed his political track and vociferously championing the cause of Hindutva. It’s very hard to believe a person of his caliber may stoop to such levels that could spark riot in the Madras High court. TV channels had a field day showing pitched battle fought between the lawyers and the police force on February 19, 2009.
Uma Bharti, the sanayasin who shot into fame during the Ayodhya movement built by the Bhartiya Janata Party is once again in the news. She now likes to canvass for the BJP, the party she left in a huff calling some of its leaders ‘power brokers’ (sattey ke dallal). The defiant leader went on to form her own political outfit called Jan Shakti party. Now Uma Bharti claims she has no money to run her party. So she wants to canvass for the BJP once again.
Well in India any thing can happen. If a slum dog can become a milliner a milliner can also become a slum-dog! Think of Ramalingam Raju, ex CEO of IT major Satyam. After the Satyam scam surfaced, this milliner has become a pauper. Raju who once enjoyed quality life now is spending time in jail. Is this not a milliner becoming slum-dog!
The big story from India is the report published by the Swiss Banking Association claiming Indians are the biggest depositors of black money in banks located in Switzerland. Indians have estimated USD 1.5 trillion in Swiss banks, that’s more black money than the rest of the world combined.
Now compare this with the report of a noted human rights activist Harsh Mander. Mander says in India’s national capital New Delhi, about 3000 people die of hunger annually. Many of them are destitute, reduced to begging as only means of survival. He adds in Delhi an estimated 150000 people are forced to live under open sky. The State provides barest minimum night shelter that’s less than four percent and there is no emergency food support made available.
Harsh Mander, have petitioned to the Supreme Court for the right to food for every citizen, work for all able bodied persons, and direct food transfers to vulnerable groups. The feasibility of his proposal remains in doubt despite the fact that so much money is stacked in Swiss banks; sufficient food reserves are available and in fact reported to be going waste. All this suggest there is utter powerlessness of the people of India even though this country is being touted as the biggest democracy in the world.
Indian story of trial and tribulation, hate and jealousy, hypocrisy and greed, love and admiration, success and failures is never ending. One has to pick a few to drive home the point; ‘Jai Ho’ its wonder that is India, the swan song currently reverberating in the Indian landscape.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org