As we are approaching 2019, the signs of stress are showing among not only the rank and file but also in higher echelons of command. What else explains the vulgar trolling to vilify Sushma Swaraj? It’s not only the ruling BJP leadership that is restless. The Congress too is struggling to cope with motormouths. Ghulam Nabi Azad has chipped in the chorus composed by Saifuddin Soz that is bound to trigger a reaction that may unpleasantly shock the already fractured party.
Not many are bothered about the state Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha. People seem to be reconciled to the fact that the BJP-led NDA combine will return to power albeit with much reduced numbers. It is this projected ‘realistic’ scenario that appears to be prompting prominent political actors in different parties to mimic contortionists.
Fissures and fallout lines are getting impossible to hide—from BJD to PDP and the family fiefdoms in Tamil Nadu that masquerade as political parties. As the elections near, old grudges, clashes of feudal interests will resurface. An effort will be made to disguise these primordial bloody clashes as ideological battles to save ‘secular democracy’ or Swadeshi Hindutvavadi Culture. From Kathua to Kerala, Jharkhand to Maharashtra, Tripura to Haryana-Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the lynch mobs are out on the streets.
Don’t call it ‘moral policing’. There is nothing moral about what the ruffians protected by their political patrons indulge in. Like there is nothing honourable in ‘honour killing’. Vigilance, Nehru had once said, is the eternal price of freedom. Vigilantes have made the word an abuse. This confusing state of affairs is likely to continue for a while. Remember the old nursery rhyme—Humpty Dumpty? Well the riddle now is, who is Humpty Dumpty? And who are the King’s Men and War Horses? The rhyme ends with the lament that neither could put Humpty Dumpty together again but we live in different times. Humpty Dumpty transforms into a crude indestructible wooden toy that once went by the name of ‘Bharat ka Jag-Jag Khilona’. You knocked it down and it would get up again to tease and challenge you. There is no dearth of such Humpty Dumptys in Indian politics.
Those ‘vanquished’ repeatedly in electoral battles refuse to accept defeat. They time and again put together a ragtag army of mercenaries and manage to overthrow the top dogs in various battlefields. There was a time when it was the Congress president who was the butt of jokes. His father too in his time had suffered such slurs. Today, times have changed. There are many dynasts strutting the stage and actors in the political arena who surpass the smugness of Humpty Dumpty.
Open season has arrived for formation of opportunistic alliances that are reminiscent not of marriages of convenience or live-in relationships that throw together odd couples but also one-night stands fraught with life-threatening risks. In this high stakes game, men and horses are dispensable. Survivors can expect to enjoy heaven on earth. Indian politicians appear to be living by the dictum ‘Nothing Venture Nothing Win’ and sincerely believe that fortune not only favours the brave, but it happily loads the dice in favour of desperadoes and daredevils.
Dozens of sideshows divert our attention from dangerous developments that threaten or democracy. Rule of law is in tatters. Frenzied mobs are not the creation of social media. They are born and bred by criminals and politicians. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between the two. Crimes against women and children, Dalits and minorities are proliferating. White collar criminals continue plundering public sector banks. No one is shocked by roads caving in in the national capital or newly constructed flyovers collapsing in the Prime Minister’s own constituency.
Survival of a government dependent on hastily cobbled majority hogs headlines more than loss of human lives in natural or man-made disasters, disease or drought. Purveyors of ‘good news’ dish out details of record-breaking collection on the opening day of a Bollywood box office hit such as Sanju or another scintillating knock by Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni. But please don’t forget that Indians can’t live by movies and cricket alone.
Sooner rather than later all of us will have to become numerically literate. Statistics to substantiate government’s claims about economic growth, controlling inflation and generating employment will have to be validated in the real world. We have nothing against Facebook posts, Instagram or Tweets. Preaching tolerance in virtual cyberspace is fine but what about practicing it in real life? How long do we have to wait for those at the helm to take the lead and rein their men and horses before the fate of Humpty Dumpty overwhelms them?