Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chinta Shivir - The Futility of Durbar Politics

Chanakya had warned in his supposed sutras that rulers should always be wary of sycophants and subservient members of administration. However, what we have seen at the Chinta (not chintan, since there is more worry than thought being discussed in Jaipur) is exactly this very durbari mentality that Tavleen Singh has copyrighted (wish people were intelligent enough to see it).

A few candid admissions came from people like Chidam-broom (thank you Mr. R Jagannathan for the wonderful twist) about the Congress' inability to gain absolute majority on its own were refreshing for a change. However, as if on cue, news channels (especially those self styled conscience of nation who are always demanding answers) started discussing whether a certain OBC leader from a state of 6 crore Gujaratis could create deep fault lines in the Indian democracy. This debate got accentuated further by comments from a politician who still fancies Railways his personal fiefdom about 'secular' and 'communal' compartments. However, a few important points came out, thanks to the ex-officio spokesperson of the Grand Old Party, also known as Hindustan Times. A careful analysis of the statements coming across from the chinta shivir clearly shows that the Congress party has belatedly understood the true mood of the nation. That it took them so much time to realize the change in ground realities is typical of the durbar shahi mentality we get to see everyday. But power is important at any cost, so there will be attempts to cobble up alliances.

The alliance shall be a secular combination (honestly, that is the joke of the year even before it ends), and will have to accommodate a large number of regional parties; however, it would be more than difficult to get these new alliance partners as there are enough people still delusional about a declining party's influence by bragging fake enrollment figures to impress upon the forcefully imposed youth icon of this country (ironic, cause he is neither young nor has any iconic achievements to his name except for a surname and an address). How will they justify allying with parties like Telugu Desam, Biju Janata Dal and the Left Front without upsetting their own regional prospects in the states where they are vying for power from these people? Therein, the Congress party thinks, that the secular card will play out. However, a few people seem to have forgotten that the secularism card does not absolve parties of absolute misgovernance that they have indulged, be they regional or national. If Congress was secular, I wonder whether allying with parties Indian Union Muslim League, Majlis-e-Muttahadil Muslimeen, All India United Democratic Front and Abdul Hassan Madhaney is a badge of secularism.

Another important thing that was candidly admitted was that the party does not know how to deal with social media, and admitted that they were losing popularity in urban areas. Well, if the party was so concerned about people, it should scrap the draconian Sec 66(A) of the IT Rules, 2008, under which people who have criticized Congressmen or potential allies like Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress (oh yes she is important) have been thrown into prison. Hence, talking about fundamental rights works only if the ruling party decides step outside the durbar and meet, something which they failed to do repeatedly in the past four years. Moreover, social media is a hydra no one can control, so they better start accepting criticism from an increasingly aware generation of young people that does not accept doles as governance. And durbaris most stop trying to be more loyal to the throne than the emperors.

Last, but not the least, economy will be important, and reforms need to be thought about seriously. While its better late than never, the absolute lack of ideas of the current Cabinet to rescue the country from the absolute doldrums we are in should serve a lesson to parties across the domain - money does NOT grow on trees, and the sooner they accept it, the better it will be. No party has had the guts to call the Food Security Bill bluff, and whatever reforms have happened is only to pay for another white elephant. It is time parties, especially the Congress, realize that the people of this country do not want to be treated with empathy, but want the government to work to fulfill the aspirations of a rising nation. And durbaris cannot be the answer to good governance of this country.

The only way out of our country's mess is to end the durbar culture, but I do not see it happening. Till then, the Congress can only pray that Shahenshah ka parcham buland rahe (may the Emperor's flag stays afloat).

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