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Politics of Cynicism

Politics of Cynicism
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Malladi Rama Rao: Politics of Cynicism, AP Re-Organisation. AAP’s tryst with Jan Lokpal and the Congress party’s clamour for AP re-organisation are on...

“Long years ago, as the editor of Illustrated Weekly of India, Kushwant Singh asked: Why monkey’s bottoms are red? As devoted fan tribe of the Sardarji, who taught us how to laugh at ourselves, we lapped up his column, thoroughly enjoyed it but found no answer to his question. That was then. Not any longer thanks to the politics of cynicism with concern for ballot box on full display in Indraprastha, which, GVG Krishna Murthy, a former Election Commissioner, says is a thoroughly enjoyable Kutra Prastha”

AAP’s tryst with Jan Lokpal and the Congress party’s clamour for AP re-organisation are on the same page. And have taken cynical politics to new heights. There is unanimity across the board on the need to end corruption but the problem with Arvind Kejriwal and his one-time mentor, Anna Hazare, is their contention that Jan Lokpal mantra is the only taraka mantra to get rid of corruption in all its manifestations. Likewise there is no problem in reorganising Andhra Pradesh or any other state for that matter. Some of us believe that not one but three states should be carved out of Andhra Pradesh not because small is beautiful but because Haryana has shown the way how a small state can prosper and can become a tourist destination even though the nature has not endowed it with any tourist spots worth the name.

The NDA regime saw the creation of three new states in the North and the demand for those three states had seen long years of struggle and much bloodshed particularly in respect of Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. In the ‘90s, Narain Dutt Tiwari led the demand for carving out Uttarakhand and braved police lathis though he ruled from Lukcnow once as the protégé of the crown prince of the day.

Both now and during its days as the Jana Sangh, the BJP has been the proponent of smaller states. In the early days of independence, and, in fact, till L K Advani became the eternal charioteer, the party had small pockets of strong influence everywhere in the cow belt but these were not strong enough to propel it to the driver’s seat. The Congress, on the other hand, had a wider turf to boast though with a weak base. Our first-past-the-post election system (FPTP) had enabled the GOP to triumph at the hustings. It was this reality that made the BJP advocate proportional representation (PR) system of elections. The Congress opposed the twin demands in the past but after the advent of Sonia Gandhi and her UPA politics, the party saw merit in the concept of small states. One need not be surprised if the Sonia Congress advocates a combination of FPTP and PR systems as a way to cleanse our electoral system.

The party with governance as its USP has messed up the T-issue but it sees Thursday’s show of eight minutes that mocked Parliament and shamed democracy differently. Tabling of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill is being projected as the fulfillment of a statement of its intent on T. And, well, it is achieving a basic requirement for some electoral gains! All this is no more than politics of grandstanding about which this columnist wrote a couple of weeks back.

This is exactly what Arvind Kejriwal is doing in Delhi and it is lending credence to the view that his AAP has become a Congress clone after surviving in power for two months plus on Congress crutches. He has made much song and drama on his Jan Lokpal Bill. He had threatened to resign if he were to be thwarted from pushing the bill through Delhi Assembly. But when the House met, for its special three-day session on Thursday, the Jan Lokpal bill was nowhere in sight. Instead he has a new issue to articulate – FIR against Mukesh Ambani, two Congress leaders, and Gas Price fixation. He has not answered the basic question how his Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is going to investigate the case when Mukesh Ambani lives in Mumbai and his gas fields are in Andhra Pradesh. Of course, there is the much larger question: Is the ACB equipped to handle a case of this nature. The ACBs in the states and the CBI at the Centre are focused on petty corruption – by Chota Babus, who need a small envelop.

Arvind Kejriwal is not the proverbial socialist bull in the china shop, as he is made out to be. He knows that as Delhi chief minister he has limited turf; he also knows that the general public, particularly sections of middle class and the nouveau riche, who are his constituency, are brought up on a diet of Arnab Goswamis and Barkha Dutts and, therefore, they donot know what he knows. So his grandstanding on gas price, particularly telling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose heart bleeds at the wrong time in the wrong way, to not increase the gas price till his ACB completes its open-ended probe.

His decision to reward Delhiites who supported his protests against Sheila Dixit’s power bills falls in the same bracket. These supporters did not pay the electricity bills between October 2012 and April 2013 heeding his call as he was moulding himself as the anarchist on the prowl. Now it is payback time for him, and his government has generously decided that these sections will not have to pay any penalty. “Pay just 50 per cent of the dues”, his Cabinet has decreed. What about the balance? It will be a Rs 6 crore subsidy from Delhi exchequer. What about others who had willingly allowed a hole to be made in their pockets by paying the electricity bills in time? And what about the AAP’s poll promise to reduce power tariff if voted to power. Well, these are questions to be answered some time later, not necessarily by AAP and its Kejriwal, whose focus as on date is limited to garnering as many talking points as possible for the April-May campaign.

Long years ago, as the editor of Illustrated Weekly of India, Kushwant Singh asked: Why monkey’s bottoms are red? As devoted fan tribe of the Sardarji, who taught us how to laugh at ourselves, we lapped up his column, thoroughly enjoyed it but found no answer to his question. That was then. Not any longer thanks to the politics of cynicism with concern for ballot box on full display in Indraprastha, which, GVG Krishna Murthy, a former Election Commissioner, says is a thoroughly enjoyable Kutra Prastha.

(The writer, Delhi-based senior journalist, can be reached at mramarao2008@gmail.com)

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