Fighting back to the wall: Congress, BJP way

Fighting back to the wall: Congress, BJP way

The advent of summer and recess to Parliament's budget session are generally a columnist's nightmare. This is the period when Netas disappear to the...

The advent of summer and recess to Parliament's budget session are generally a columnist's nightmare. This is the period when Netas disappear to the cool environs at home or abroad, making the power corridors and the equally powerful cocktail circuit of the capital wear a forlorn look.

Not this time with the Goddess of Rhamnous in a particularly bad mood to the dismay of the First Family of Indian politics and its yesteryear showpiece, Jagdish Tytler. How things will pan out in the next five-six months is difficult to say.

The Congress is GOP, and it is not like the BJP which often indulges in self-destruction. If it remains true to this image, you and I can expect the present Pappu-WikiLeaks turbulence in the air to disappear with the chatterati blessed with a new talking point.

Remember how Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare were pushed out of headlines, and how Nirbhay saga, like the Mumbai mayhem of 28/11, caught the nation and the Netas off-guard but ended up as a footnote to history? Anyone who lives in Delhi develops a certain cynical view of men and matters. You cannot help it. Hastinapura, also known as Kutra Prastha, is such. Conspiracy theories abound in this city of Netas, Babus, Brokers and their jee huzoors.

Some of us in the media contribute no less to these theories getting currency. In fact, quite too often, the theory takes its birth as a joke in the morning at the INS building, which houses numerous newspaper offices on the Rafi Marg that leads to Parliament House, and by evening comes back as the most talked about headline of the day. So, like the economists who slip in several caveats before they hazard a forecast, Michel de Nostradamus of edit-page columns have to be very guarded in offering an all-weather comment.

To say that the Congress is falling on bad days is to say the obvious; even the uninitiated in politics will agree it is so. Otherwise, crown prince Rahul Gandhi would not have become the Pappu for netizens even as he was outlining his vision of India as a beehive to the captains of industry and trade in Delhi. And the Bofors phantom would not have re-appeared, albeit in a new avatar, and dubbed his father as a middleman who had pushed the case of Swedish group Saab-Scandia's Viggan fighter jet during the Emergency days.

The deal did not materialize in the end not because of any lack of effort on the part of Rajiv; the Americans did not want the deal to go through because of their very own Cold War calculus.

This is not for the first time that Rajiv Gandhi's role as an entrepreneur has come under scrutiny, as Hartosh Singh Bal points out in 'Open'. The Shah Commission, which investigated the excesses of the Emergency, had charged Rajiv Gandhi with going beyond the call of his duty as a pilot of the Indian Airlines and pushing for a deal with the Boeing Company.

Shah Commission is history; there is no official copy of its report in public domain. So is the Emergency. A Few turn up these days for the ritual observance of Emergency proclamation as the black day at the Constitution Club, which is bang opposite the INS building. This reluctance to remember history in a city, which has been a witness to history, has something to do with a concept called propriety.

Well, here propriety has more to do with the fact that the First Family is in the driver's seat, as is the case at present or was on the ring side seat as was the case during Vajpayee days in office.

A standing INS joke was that BJP's Atal locked himself every day for 30 minutes in his puja room at 7 RCR, and worshipped Sonia Mata so that Sonia Congress would not be gifted with its very own Raj Narain, and make him another Morarji Desai before the bar of history. It is possible to ask, as R K Dhawan, the all-powerful PA to Indira Gandhi, does, why we as a nation should bother about what a diplomat wrote to please his bosses. He has a point.

A diplomat-speak or a diplomat-cable to his headquarters is not gospel truth. While the former can be a half-truth as an occupational necessity, the latter is no more than a compendium of what is heard in the corridors and in whispers; like the gossip, which our sleuths pick up from the corridors of INS and the nearby watering hole and peddle as unvarnished inside track to please their bosses sitting in their air-conditioned offices.

One such office, as every political correspondent knows, is opposite the headquarters of a leading political party.A The Dhawan question brings into focus a much larger issue but there is no fun in getting sucked into a quagmire when the all-engrossing issue is how the Congress will handle the 1984 ghost of anti-Sikh riots that has come to haunt them suddenly without provocation.

The order of Additional Sessions Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj to the CBI to revisit the case against Jagdish Tytler has made the Congress War Room to press the panic button because there is a section within the War Room which believes that 'sins' catch up with the perpetrators in 30-years. The 'pogrom' will be 30-year-old in 2014.

Whether there is scientific or religious sanction for such a belief is not germane to our debate. It only underlines the fact that the Congress has gifted to its bête noire, the Gujarat Modi, a powerful weapon. You can trust the wily 'Maut Ka Saudagar' to project himself as a victim of Congress-secularist combine for what he did or did not do in 2002.

But will he and his BJP manage to take advantage of the 'spirit of divine retribution'? The jury is out even as the BJP is fighting with its back to the wall in Karnataka and the Nitish Kumars of NDA have no love for Modi.

The writer can be reached at

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