Crisis Managers, Stage Managers

Congress is in Crisis. All its tactical ploys simply backfired in no time, sending shivers down the spines of its election mangers. The Gandhis are visibly worried because of their too much dependence on dynastic culture and cheap populism that may not produce desired results in electoral race. Faced with massive protests from the anti-division agitationists in Andhra, they are now resorting to the time-tested delaying tactics, only to keep the Telengana pot boiling. The best way to solve a contentious issue is not to solve it all, keeping all the concerned parties guessing. The timing of announcement of separate Telangana state was all about vote. Indications are that it may be counter-productive. They seem to be losing the poll even before the fixation of timetable for the catastrophe—general election in 2014. If the outcome of the on-going assembly polls in five states goes against the Nehru dynasty Telengana woes for them would be further compounded.

After Andhra it was Tamil Nadu that showed the red signal to the beleaguered Congress Party over participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) in Colombo. As all TN-based parties, including the state unit of TN Congress, campaigned in favour of boycotting CHOGM to protest Sri Lanka’s war crimes against ethnic Tamils, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finally had to retreat allowing his External Affairs Minister to attend the Summit of the uncommon Commonwealth.

Not that New Delhi was not aware of what was going on in Jaffna in the name of combating Liberation Tigers. It was genocide, ethnic cleansing a la Bosnia. The Sri Lankan army like any other army went on the rampage and brutally killed thousands of innocent civilians. And yet the Sultans in Delhi didn’t react. Also, regionalists who are now so vocal about boycotting CHOGM and suspending Sri Lanka from Commonwealth, didn’t do much to make Sri Lanka’s war crimes an international issue. Even when the Congress-led UPA Government where the Tamil party DMK plays a crucial role in survival calculus, tried to soften the UN resolution on Sri Lanka’s war crimes, they just recorded their dissent. That was all. If they are too agitated now as the TN assembly the other day passed an unanimous resolution demanding the boycott of CHOGM, it is because Tamil sentiments will swing the vote in no minor way in the coming General Election.

For one thing Congress has long been a party of the South as it seems to have outlived its utility in the north if the last few poll results are any guide. With anti-Congress wave, for more than one reason, sweeping almost all the southern states panic seems to have gripped the Gandhi bhavan in New Delhi. To most Congress stalwarts managing elections, what is puzzling is the sudden surge in saffron tide in some states.

They can no longer ridicule Modi and dismiss the face of saffron aggression lightly because of the corporate backing the Modis are getting. Youth is the key to religious right represented by Modi. The religious right, better to say the Bharatiya Janata Party–Shiv Sena combine motivates the rootless young generations with increasingly violent rhetoric claiming that fundamentalists are being systematically marginalised by the so-called secularists to further their narrow sectoral interests while making in-roads into the constituency of sub-alterns, otherwise traditionally reserved for the left. These days anti-progressivism is valued as an asset for ‘common sense’ politicians. The purpose is to make people, rather voters, reject critical thinking in favour of believing what they are told.

Liberals and Democrats think the religious right would turn the state into a brutally totalitarian one. But the Congress party has already done the ground work for an authoritarian take-over. In the ensuing tug of war between the two major players—India is steadily losing its Westminster model to American style of bi-polar electioneering with prime ministerial aspirants being continually focused in the media, somewhat deliberately—the left remains a passive onlooker as if they have nothing serious to do other than waiting for fair weather.

The problem with the traditional left is that they cannot think beyond Bengal and Kerala. Such one dimensional politics has deadly consequences and they face them in good measure in their every move. In reality they are the victims of small-town mentality though they never get tired to preach radicalism of their kind. At a recent press meet the WB state secretary of CPI was candid enough to admit that the people were yet to fully come out in the support of the Left Front, despite being burdened by multiple hazards including unprecedented rise in prices, ever growing atrocities on women and an assault on democracy through partisan manoeuvring. He promised to launch mass mobilisation on a wide range of issues affecting the people in the street—better late than never!

It is next to impossible for the left that has long lost its leftist character to take risks of antagonising the vested interests because they too are now well-entrenched into the ruling system. They are testing bitter politics of their own brand. Radical shift in power equation can only come through radical approach to new human relations in the changed social reality. Those who cannot see the dead, young and old, in the fields, in the jungles, in streets ; who cannot hear the insistent voices of tribal fighters, will have nothing to contribute to the creation of new society—long overdue. o 16-11-2013

Vol. 46, No. 20, Nov 24 - 30, 2013

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