Too Many Predators

Balancing Act in Indian political drama is not that easy. Everything is different here ; it’s another world. Here regionalists flourish in national politics without chasing any national agenda while the so-called national parties do hardly bother about national interests. With the Congress-led dispensation at the centre facing a crisis of survival after the withdrawal of support by one of its eastern allies—Trinamul Congress, it is time for regionalists to call the shot. For regional satraps it’s an opportunity to make their presence felt beyond the border of their kingdoms. There’s just so much hypocrisy and opportunism wrapped up in regional political culture. In India it’s fine to become a revolutionary without doing any revolutionary work. Also, it is equally tempting to remain progressive in all seasons simply by making noises against communal forces.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—the symbol of India’s communal face—called the Bharat Bandh on September 20 to protest against drastic ‘market measures’ seeking high jump in fuel prices and allowing multinationals in retail trade. Then some regional parties including an ally of Congress—Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam (DMK)—and yet another supporter of the Congress regime, Samajwadi Party, too protested on the same day on the same issue, indirectly making the bandh a great success, without openly indentifying themselves with the BJP programme. The Communist Left and non-communist left as well did their tight-rope walking well by teaming up with the regionalists to record their opposition to the entry of foreign direct investment in retail and hiking of fuel prices beyond tolerable limits  for wage earners and salaried people, not to speak of the marginalised.

They know very well a bandh or two can hardly make any difference in the real world of survival. Then their protest stance is more about ritual than survival.

DMK like any other mainstream party is reactionary to the core and these days it is being run by the partiarch more like a family business enterprise. They are still in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and, yet they didn’t hesitate to join the BJP-sponsored bandh, again to keep it on record that they too opposed the Singh-Chidambaram scripted mayhem. But what is happening in their home state Tamil Nadu in Koodankulam is not their concern. The police ransacked Idinthakarai and adjoining villages and destroyed the protest venue completely. Even the community kitchen near the Church was vandalised so that anti-nuclear agitationists could not sustain their agitation. They want nuclear power plant at Koodankulam at any cost. So the police of another regional outfit—ruling AIADMK—turned the entire area into a burning hell for villagers who tried to stop ‘fuel-loading’. In truth 8000 riot police commanded by ADGP were sent to Koodankulam to teach the poor fishermen a lesson for refusing to kowtow to the powers that be.

For one thing the ‘Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given clearance for fuel loading and nuclear establishment is going ahead with the commissioning process despite the scathing report of Comptroller and Auditor General of India about lapses in safety measures’.
DMK, claiming itself as the sole crusader for the welfare and well-being of the Tamil people, is interested in demanding the expulsion of Sri Lankan soldiers and football players from India while feigning innocence and inability to save the ‘Koodankulam’ victims. They have mustered the art of political trickery and escapism while confusing the ‘confused’ all the time.

As for the communists the less said the better. Two communist parties—CPI and CPM—at no stage of Koodankulam anti-nuclear agitation supported the poor villagers facing immediate eviction and destitution. They opposed Indo-US nuclear deal, hopefully to refurbish their anti-American image. They also opposed the French-managed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Maharashtra. But they are myopic to Russia-designed and controlled Koodankulam nuclear power plant. They have been slavishly promoting Russian Foreign Policy interests since the Soviet days and it seems difficult for them to disown their Russian connection so easily though Russia buried Soviet socialism decades ago.

All political parties, mainstream or regional, are in agreement on the urgency of nuclear power in principle. They are out to bail out the global nuclear industry that has been in a moribund state since the Chernobyl disaster in the eighties.

Curiously enough, all popular movements in India in recent years are being led by independent initiatives, some with NGO tag. As ‘Koodankulam’ is an Indo-Russian joint venture, the centre is trying to isolate the protesters by questioning their funding sources. They see in the movement an American conspiracy to knockout the Russians from India’s burgeoning nuclear market. The very people—the Singhs and Chidam-barams—who are fanatically trying to open Indian economy to American multinationals by nakedly surrendering people’s interests and mortgaging national sovereignty, discover American hands behind the Koodankulam agitation.

Nobody takes the ritualistic bandh and strike seriously because some other disturbing issues will crop up and regionalists as also mainstream heritage holders will soon weigh option in them to get focused with an eye to polls. That they won’t rollback the prices of diesel and LPG despite TMC’s pull out, was a foregone conclusion. The reason is simple : the opposition will soon lose vocabulary to oppose. Scams and scam-related fables are fading into distant horizon. Unless there is a sustained movement against anti-people policies, no positive outcome will emerge in the foreseeable future. Political parties are reluctant to invest too much energy in popular protest movements, lest they are black-listed by the moneygabs, both domestic and foreign. And money these days talks somewhat loudly in parliamentary culture.

They are coming to power and going out of power and in the process they just occasionally touch some popular issues here and there so that they could win votes. People are really helpless and resistance growing out of sheer desperation and spontaneity, cannot sustain itself for long particularly in the face of brutal oppression as it is happening in Koodankulam now.

In Indian political scenario, all political parties, more precisely parties and groups recognised by the Election Commission, are incapable of respecting even their own conviction.

Vol. 45, No. 12, Sep 30 -Oct 6 2012

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