The Chinese cursed their enemies by wishing that may they live in interesting times. Times have surely changed. We Indians are enduring excruciating boredom and unending agony at the same time. Friends and foes alike are contributing to our discomfiture. The AAP that had trounced all opposition to utter silence in the Delhi Assembly elections stands shamelessly exposed without the proverbial fig leaf. It has ‘splintered’ more than once and its leaders have shouted themselves hoarse accusing everyone of back-stabbing them—the Central government, the media, the corporates, the opportunistic intellectuals. Wild allegations made entirely on anecdotal evidence and statements like don’t we all know have made it a butt of jokes. It hopes against hope that the villainous Central government dismisses it and imposes President’s Rule in the Capital, allowing it to assume the mantle of martyrdom. It is amazing how the antics of Arvind Kejriwal manage to hog headlines at the expense of much more substantial items of news.
Rahul Gandhi’s road shows have flopped, but he too seems to be providing inexhaustible source of inspiration and job satisfaction to those who identify themselves as the fourth pillar of democracy. His words become shriller without adding an iota of meaning. The body language, we are told, has dramatically changed and is now no longer exuding infection negativity. If one believes the cheerleaders in the Congress, he has reinvigorated the youth and rallied around him the united opposition against PM Modi. No other recognisable leader—forget heavy-weight old war horses—in any other party has shown the slightest inclination to follow this leader. As far as the BJP is concerned, it has very astutely cut him down to size by forcing him to revisit his constituency to control the damage done there by that very articulate and pugnacious lady called Smriti Irani.
Who is interested in RaGa’s unending discovery of India and the plight of poor farmers across the land? He cheekily reminds Modi of his duties but conveniently forgets his own sabbatical and even before that absences from the House and his own constituency. ‘Politics of vendetta,’ he shouts when his pet project, the Food Park in Amethi, is ‘killed’. Accusations all, in this case like AAP’s complaints, have been exposed as unjustified by available evidence on record. This government can’t be held responsible for inaction and lapses of UPA that had long years ago strangled that child.
Kashmir continues to boil and burn as those who preach sedition and bear no allegiance to the Indian Constitution appeal to the conscience of liberal Indians to come to the rescue of Geelani on humanitarian grounds. While the spokespersons deployed to fire salvos at BJP and Modi continue to adopt hawkish postures in TV debates, the silence of High Command is deafening. But there is nothing surprising in this. Sonia and Rahul know well that they are incapable of serving chalk dusting aces. They wait for the opponent to commit foot faults. Modi may have faltered at times, but he has deprived the duo the pleasure of securing a break point.
But how dare we lapse into tennis jargon when the only game, business or scam worth anything in this country is cricket? If it is not the tortures inflicted by politics, then it is the sickening saga of Indian cricket. Match-fixing is not dead nor are sensational exposures of undervaluation of IPL teams or conflict of interest between administrators of the game and team owners or their close relatives.
Not a word, not even as punctuation mark, about what is happening in the large states in the high land that are no longer referred to as Bimaru. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar seem to have fallen off the radar. Only the suicide or unnatural death of a prime witness who could implicate someone powerful finds passing mention, or dangerous delinquent behaviour of some rich brat related to a politician. Headlines that ‘balance’ coverage of Modi’s one year are a series of attacks on security guards at ATMs or woes of rape survivors and molestation victims. What is happening in Assam and Karnataka, Kerala and Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana or in the strategically sensitive sisters in the Northeast? In Maharashtra, another large state, it is considered enough if the Thackerays and Sena-Samna along with Sharad Pawar are covered to make things interesting.
Interesting times? Certainly not. Not in English, not in Chinese, not in any Indian language or dialect. Spare us the pain we groan. But we ourselves are to blame. The remote is in our hands.