Old drama with old cast

Old drama with old cast

Malladi Rama Rao: Old drama with Old Cast, Celebrations are taking at one end of the street and there is mourning at the other end and both are part...

A song in an old Telugu classic, ‘Nityakalyanam-Pachhatoranam,’ neatly sums up the mood on either side of the political divide in the national capital today. Celebrations are taking at one end of the street and there is mourning at the other end and both are part of our village life, the song, rendered by inimitable P B Srinivas, tells us. How true it is?

The NaMo-led BJP is enjoying its glory under the Indian sun, and is scripting a new direction on the home and foreign policy fronts. The invitation to Saarc heads of government to attend the oath-taking of India’s 15th Prime Minister is a master stroke from a person, who for some of his detractors at home was a butcher, while the Pakistani media saw in his emergence a justification for the two-nation theory of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In diplomacy, just like in politics, signals are as much important as substance, and by this yardstick, NaMo has scored his first goal from a penalty corner. Suddenly, a routine swearing-in of a Prime Minister has been elevated. And it has come to be viewed as coronation, to quote a diplomat.

Young Turk, Milind Deora, has set the stage for some spring cleaning in the Rahul Congress. He has excellent credentials for the enterprise. Till the results were out, he was seen as the alter ego of Crown Prince, and used to provide a clue to the thinking of His Master. Milind’s father, Murali Deora, is the uncrowned Tsar of Mumbai Congress, and represents the old guard, which has been marginalised by the Ivy League brigade Rahul has brought in.

So, when he criticises that his master’s advisors and voices did not have their ears to the ground, and that they lacked electoral experience, he is heard with respect. And the critique is taken as a reflection of the mood among the rank and file.

What is the credibility of Milinds, Priya Dutts and many others of their ilk? It is an irrelevant question and entertaining such a question is challenging the Indira Gandhi legacy which the Maa-Beta combine cherishes and nurtures. Regional satraps and field-level workers and leaders have no relevance for the Grand Old Party, which believes in shining under the reflex glory of the dynasty. This is not cynical speak but an acknowledgment of ground reality Milind may be loath to accept.

Surprisingly, Renuka Choudhary has no hesitation to concede the home truth. But this decade-plus import from Telugu Desam to the Congress is shy of addressing Question Number One: who has forced them or coaxed them to sleep when the downslide was taking place, when every commentator worth his or her by-line was talking about the havoc the ‘toffee’ schemes of populism were creating at the market place, and when for short-term political gains the CBI was allowed to become a bull in China Shop and open files dating back to PV and AV days on coal and spectrum allocation.

Bureaucracy retreating into a shell and consequent governance paralysis are self-inflicted wounds for the Congress. Pressing the introspection button offers no instant nirvana. Not even holding MMS responsible for the loss.

Well, you have to be totally naïve to believe that Ma-Beta Gandhis in the Congress, the Netaji-Betaji Yadavs of the Samajwadi Party, ‘Behenji’ Mayawati in Bahujan Samajwadi Party, and Dravidian ‘Thatha’ Muthavel Karunadhi of DMK will do more than accepting moral responsibility.

The question of quitting doesn’t arise for them if their parties do not do well at the hustings, as is the case with Battle 2014. Same truism applies to Amma Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK, and Didi Mamata in the Trinmool Congress. So much so, Milind’s tweet, “Field work & electoral battles should form the basis for leadership posts in Congress,” is a misplaced wish list. It does, however, signal that murmurs have begun in the GOP.

Will the murmurs become louder and louder with every passing day? I have my doubts. As long as Congress leaders tend to believe that Gandhi name fetches them votes, and victory in the electoral battle, they will not embark on a revamp road. And they will not accept my theory that a rally by Sonia Gandhi in a constituency does not guarantee that seat for the Congress, and that the Congress victories thus far were a result of bi-polar nature of our polity – Cong Plus vs. BJP Plus.

In a manner of speaking, it is this faith in the dynasty’s USP at the hustings that has made Maneka Gandhi relevant to the Janata amoeba. She has since carved out a place for herself as the champion of voiceless animals, and has become a leader who cannot be ignored.

The point in the context of Sonia-Rahul Congress after Debacle 2014 is that you have to be content with the old drama with a very aged cast. There will be resignations by smaller satraps and they will be ‘persuaded’ to stay put, like it happened with Tarun Gogoi of Assam who had announced his resignation even as the results were coming in. He has since been coaxed to remain in the saddle at Dispur.

Assam Congress has its own dosage of dissidence, which the high command has been nurturing as part of its national policy of keeping the reigning satraps under check. Already the dissidents have identified their replacement for Gogoi. This all too familiar drama will go on for a few days to the joy and relief of editorial writers and will culminate in the anointment of a new proxy.

Surprisingly, the anarchist on the prowl, Arvind Kejriwal, has become a practitioner of the Congress culture. He has shown no interest in quitting after the extremely dismal performance of his party. As political commentator, Atul Cowshish, says, Kejriwal willing to step down as the convenor of AAP would have surely been the ‘breaking news’ all day long and a good subject to keep the TV raucous studios debates appropriately confrontationist.

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