As Polls Near, Prospects Are Improving For Entertainment, Not For Democracy
The trickle is already a stream and it is just a matter of time before it swells in a flood. The desertions from the woebegone Congress range from veterans like Jagdambika Pal to newly nominated candidates Bhagirath Prasad in Bhind. It is difficult to dismiss either as a loose canon or habitual turncoat. One has remained a loyal footsoldier of the High Command despite step-motherly treatment and humiliation heaped by the brash young supporters of Rahul and the other is a highly respected, academically inclined bureaucrat with a reputation for integrity. Before this, it was Purandeswari, daughter of NTR and sometime Minister of State in UPA II who had joined the BJP following in the footsteps of a former home secretary, former Chief of Army Staff, and former Mumbai police commissioner.
Since, a former head of RAW has thrown in his hat in the ring with these worthies. Amid hopefuls clawing to climb the BJP bandwagon include Venod Sharma who has many claims to fame—till yesterday the right-hand man of Hooda in Haryana, one-time Central minister, wannabe media mogul and inheritor to a multi-million industrial enterprise ranging from sugar, liquor and hospitality. Most recognise him as the father of Manu Sharma, convicted after public outcry in the Jessica Lal murder case. He is now trying to rely on the strategy of indirect approach by joining INLD and has started praising dynamic Modi and criticising undemocratic Congress. Spin doctors in Congress trying the ‘reverse swing’ haven’t been very effective.
The BJP has done much better forging pre-poll alliances. Ram Vilas Paswan has with his young son come out from the political closet while Congress’ parleys with Lalu Prasad have, to say the least, only added to the confusion. To top it, Lalu’s insistence to invoke MISA to subdue dissenting senior colleagues in his party have backfired badly.
As if this wasn’t enough to make UPA’s cup of misery run over, Amar Singh with Jayaprada in tow has joined Ajit Singh’s RLD. Singh, as all of us know, is an ally of the Congress, but none can overlook that he can, with his exceptional gift to give the slip taking anyone’s cup from his lips, leave any eel deep down in the dark sea squirming in frustration. With friends like these who needs foes? The already slim chances of Congress are about to vanish.
Their star campaigner is as usual missing from action. What people are discussing is the wrangling over seats in BJP and feuds within the ‘first family’ in Tamil Nadu, private jet takeoffs of AAP leader Kejriwal and Rs 20,000 dinners by his supporters. Who has time for irrelevant inanities mouthed by smart alecks in the Congress? The boss may have ticked him off more than once, but that doesn’t bother Salman Khurshid who is quite content letting the ‘loyal’ viewers (who do not change channels the moment they spot him on the screen) know that his command of Hindi is so much better than Karan Thapar’s. Kapil Sibal, when he can spare some time from his poetic pursuits, assumes the mantle of ghost raiser. Who doesn’t know that it was Nathuram Godse who murdered Mahatma Gandhi and that he was a member of RSS. It is also not a state secret that he was convicted and hanged. Sibal is also not the sole repository of knowledge that RSS was once a banned organization. What is more to the point is that RSS isn’t a banned organisation at present and complicity of this organisation in Godse’s crime can’t be proved by strenuous allegations more than six decades after the dastardly act unsupported by ‘fresh evidence’.
The smear campaign is more likely than not boomerang on the Congress. What the millions of young voters in this land remember is that the nation has been ruled by NDA led by the BJP with a prime minister at its helm who was proud to proclaim his relationship with RSS. ‘Guilt by association’ has its place in criminal law, but stretching it so elastically to suit political purpose can only expose the legal eagle to ridicule.
Truth be told, one is relieved with the re-entry of Urdu couplet-sprouting Amar Singh on the stage. The man with a reputation that can easily give any weasel an inferiority complex sounds so much more credible and without cant than any of the sanctimonious spokespersons of our national parties. By now, Singh has ‘seen and done’ this and that, he has been the mouse (that roared) and he has been the cat (who bells his tormentors). It will not be easy for the likes of Diggy Raja and Mani Shankar Aiyar to unzip their lips when this Thakur is swirling his digital lathi.
Prospects are improving for entertainment but not necessarily for democracy or good governance.