The year is drawing to an agonising end. The campaigning in state elections has touched a new low. Abuse and wild allegations have replaced all else—election manifestoes, promises of development and agenda for social justice. Party in power and those in the opposition are concentrating on retaining their traditional vote banks and poaching ‘leaders’ from the other side. Personalities/individuals, it is believed, sway the voter much more than issues and ideology.
The CBI fiasco continues to unravel but has since been upstaged by the government’s bullying behaviour to browbeat the RBI into submission. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister continues to be on his renaming spree apparently oblivious of the fact that the BJP may well have to pay a heavy price in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But then no one has ever suggested that this ‘Loose Canon’ can be steered safely.
The Finance Minister seems to believe that he is the only one who understands the Constitution, intricacies of high finance and abstract concepts of political philosophy. Economy under his charge has performed dismally but this hasn’t dented his arrogant self-confidence the least bit. Now taking a dig at West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, which have withdrawn a blanket pass to the CBI, he has pontificated that states aren’t sovereign in matters of corruption; whatever this may mean.
It’s a national tragedy to have a self-styled renaissance man at the topmost echelons of government in these hard times. No other minister is visible or audible. The Raksha Mantri has disappeared after a few lackluster cameo appearances in the Rafale Farce. Where is that good lady Sushma Swaraj? Your guess is as good as mine.
Punjab has experienced a terrorist attack on a religious congregation after a long lull but then isn’t law and order a state subject? Does the Centre feel that it can’t interfere because as no corruption is alleged in such cases the states should be deemed sovereign and left free to deal with the problem? The BSF, CRPF, ITBP and SSB are para-military forces under the home ministry. The Home Minister has a very unenviable job. The heavyweight National Security Advisor seems to have rendered him redundant. Even the usually voluble Nitin Gadkari and Ravi Shankar Prasad are reticent at the moment.
The Congress President sports an ever-broadening grin and keeps visiting famous Hindu shrines on the campaign trails trying to convince that he too is proud of his Hindu heritage and is not a godless, secular-liberal. All the family retainers hope against hope that maybe pilgrimages will bear fruit, RaGa’s prayers will be answered and that BJP will be ousted in at least two states.
Ironically, the Congress candidate fielded against Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has launched a broadside against her by announcing that she is a Rajasthani not by birth but only by marriage. This is quite hilarious. What does that imply about Soniaji—an Indian not by birth but by marriage and a naturalised citizen? But in India unlike in the US no disability is imposed on anyone contesting an election on this count.
Does this mean that no one born outside a state in the Indian Union can contest elections in that state? Swadeshi and Videshi are binaries easily understood but this is a new one. What do we call these ‘interlopers’—unwelcome guests? Intruding pardesis? Dangerous bahari? Are we regressing to a stage where only those born of pure local parentage from any constituency will be considered eligible to contest elections? Forget the articles of the Constitution and provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951. How dare the courts interfere with the will of the sovereign people? From the Jat-Maratha reservation agitations, to the reassertion of parochial linguistic or sectarian identities, the government in the Centre has chosen to remain a silent spectator hoping that these events will hurt the Opposition more. The strategy seems to be backfiring.
The ‘MeToo’ tide was a great leveller blackening faces impartially across the political and professional spectrum. Many in media have suddenly lost their whiplashing tongue. But this can only ensure temporary relief and provide a brief respite to a government that has talked itself into several tricky corners.
People have already started talking—not whispering—about the much reduced majority for the NDA in 2019. There are some who are throwing caution to the wind and are suggesting that even a simple majority may elude the allies and a coalition may prove difficult for it to cobble. Who would have thought these thoughts in 2014? But then, as has been said, a week is a long time in politics. The real question is: Can the coming weeks—totalling less than five months before the scheduled elections—prove more decisive than the past five years? email@example.com