The HILARIOUS CHAOS of the Presidential Race

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    - The hilarious chaos of the presidential race

    Ashok Mitra


    Nothing could be more bizarre. But, then, what else do you expect from this most bizarre of lands? Please take a look at the political geography of the country. The Congress has no control over the state administration in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Sikkim, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Tripura, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat. It is a junior partner of the National Conference regime in Jammu and Kashmir. It has a chief minister in Maharashtra, where it shares power with the Nationalist Congress Party. Given the shameful scandal over the Adarsh apartments, in which the names of three successive Congress chief ministers have got involved, the party’s reputation though is at its lowest in the state.

    Currently, Andhra Pradesh, too, has a Congress chief minister. His days would however seem to be numbered. The party hack, under whose stewardship the Congress was able to oust the Telugu Desam Party from the state government and who was duly installed as chief minister by the party, succeeded in strengthening the Congress organization in the state to a remarkable extent; at the same time, he built a small egg nest of a few thousand crore of rupees through diverse shady deals; the party did not demur. He died in a helicopter crash. His son claimed to succeed his father as chief minister. His logic seemed impeccable: if Rajiv Gandhi could be prime minister on the assassination of Indira Gandhi, and now Rajiv’s son was being taken for granted as heir-presumptive for the same position, what was wrong if in Andhra Pradesh a similar arrangement was followed? The Supreme Madam in New Delhi who takes all the crucial decisions in the Congress, turned down the son’s prayer. He took the path of rebellion. To teach him a lesson, the Central Bureau of Investigation was set after him, he was arrested and charged for the sin of expanding the luscious financial empire his father had bequeathed him. The people of Andhra Pradesh did not like this. They have made mincemeat of the Congress in the recent series of by-elections in the state and hailed the incarcerated youngster as their new hero.

    To proceed further with the narrative, in Uttarakhand, the Congress heads the state administration, but only with the help of some independent members in the assembly, it is really a situation of touch and go. In Rajasthan and Haryana, the Congress-led regimes would appear to be in a somewhat stabler position. Even so, given the seething anger everywhere against corruption and rising prices, one never knows what the immediate future holds, more so since in both the states, allegations of murky financial transactions or even more murderous doings are pending against quite a few Congress ministers. In Delhi, despite the party controlling the state administration, it has received a severe drubbing in the recent municipal corporation election. Travel to the East. Assam has a Congress chief minister. He has, however, his hands full with the nearly intractable issue of separatism ever on the boil. In such other northeastern states as Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland or Mizoram, the colour of the government is really irrelevant, the modality of administration is by and large the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

    To sum up, over three-quarters of the country and state governments have no allegiance to the party which heads the government at the Centre. And, of course it has been of late a precarious existence for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime in New Delhi. Its prime minister, on his own admission, has no control over the government he nominally presides over, supposedly because of the constraints of coalition rule. The licensing system is long dead and gone, but allocation of development blocks for oil and natural gas or telecommunication spectrums has provided unbelievable opportunities to practise favouritism, leading to the piling up of private fortunes of mind-boggling magnitude. Charges of corruption fly thick and fast against ruling politicians. Ministers get arrested. Prices keep soaring. The authorities themselves increase, or connive in increasing, prices. The government’s minions have the cheek to suggest that raising prices is the best way to fight inflation. Money is spent like water in the name of national security while there is no money for a universal public distribution system. A finance minister, who till the other day was asking countrymen not to worry while the rest of the world might go to the dogs, and that our ‘fundamentals’ were very sound, the rate of growth of gross domestic product was threatening to touch 9 to 10 per cent, foreign exchange holdings were bursting at the seams, we had nothing to fear except fear itself. The latest reality buzz tells another story. The rate of industrial production is plummeting towards zero, GDP growth is way down, the same finance minister is now heard to squeak: everything is not lost, if the monsoon is good and the international price of crude petroleum dips, we could yet live to see another day. The international rating agencies take little notice of this finance minister’s gibberish and make their own assessment. So do the scheming brains who decide on the trajectory of finance capital movements across the globe. They have voted their no-confidence in the Indian rupee and are pulling out of Dalal Street. The external value of the rupee is falling down, down, down in the manner of the London Bridge in the nursery rhyme.

    It is a bankrupt government run by a decrepit party. So what; the finance minister, who, along with the prime minister, has been at the helm of things when these frightening developments affecting the economy were taking place, is the choice of the Congress as the next president of this august republic. Everybody, almost everybody, is sprinting to endorse his candidature. Rush, rush, rush, important sections of even the leading Opposition alliance have opted to support the Congress nominee. The party has been reduced to a rubbishy non-entity in the state where it was once the strongest — Uttar Pradesh. Nonetheless, both the Bahujan Samaj Party, which ruled the state for the preceding five years, and the Samajwadi Party, which has succeeded it, have sought to elbow out each other in their eagerness to announce their faith in the candidate of a party which has an insignificant presence in their state. The media are in raptures over the prospect of a national consensus emerging on the choice of the next rashtrapati. Ideology is, of course, long dead. Even issues of policy are of no concern. What apparently matters is to explore how to make one’s way through the web of devious strategic calculations. For one or two leaders of this or that party, perhaps it is a deal struck behind the scene over a pending case before the CBI, or a deal to avert the possibility of the CBI launching a criminal prosecution. For some others, the calculation is a shade more far-sighted. Should the polls in 2014 lead to a parliamentary impasse, the person who is first called for consultation by the president for constituting the new government would be in an advantageous position; it would therefore be wise to try and develop a mutual relationship with the person who at this instance has emerged the best bet.

    That is it. The presidential race has been reduced to a phenomenon in the bettors’ market. The stakes are high and, if the gossip is to be believed, money is no consideration. In this hilariously chaotic situation, there are still three outstanding developments calling for special comment. The first is the crisis the presidential poll has caused to the other assumed-to-be national party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. To it, the election of the new rashtrapati is a subsidiary issue, the occasion is being used to thrash out who should hold the party’s mantle in the national polls two years hence. In the process, the lustre of religious fundamentalism has, to all accounts, dimmed a bit. That calls for celebration; after all, it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. The second amusing development is the predicament the lady chief minister of you-know-which-state has landed herself in on account of her over-arching ambition. It never rains but pours; a high court judgment has been an additional unkindly cut for her. After a long string of successes, she is suddenly facing an awesome debacle. Just as water finds its own level; so too, it seems, does dishwater.

    But the most interesting spectacle has unfolded in the ranks of the Left, till now, considered to be the citadel of the policy of the principle. The leading element in the Left has decided that there is no way for it not to support the Congress nominee — one of the principal architects of neo-liberalism which has brought the country to its present mess and further immiserized the working classes — in the presidential race. It has mentioned two factors which have influenced its otiose decision. First, it has discerned a fast growing convergence of support for the Congress candidate and has, like a good boy, chosen to fall in line. It has thereby betrayed an innate passion for coming together with each and all, and this supersedes ideological and policy fissures howsoever fundamental. Would it not be more honest on its part, someone could naughtily chip in, to dissolve itself and merge its identity in the corpus which claims to be the great national consensus, the Congress? The second pretext proffered by this party of the Left will do credit to a dyed-in-the-wool regional formation. Rather than dilating on it, let us close this discussion by narrating the gist of a Bengali folk tale. The ruler of a small kingdom loved to indulge in an innocent little pastime. Every morning, the royal sentry would pick two down-and-out vagabonds seeking alms in the capital’s main thoroughfare, bind them hand and foot and throw them in the royal courtyard. The officially designated royal torturer would then take over, bow to the king, unleash his whip and start administering by turn fierce lashes, 25 at a time, on the two beggars until they breathed their last. It so happened one morning that one of the two beggars contributing to the entertainment, writhing in pain, gathered the last reserve of his strength and pride in his fading voice and whispered to the other beggar: “How lucky I am, this most honourable Royal Torturer, what do you know, hails from my own village.” Then he died.

    Then he died
    sob likes this.
  3. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

    May 4, 2009
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    New Delhi
    In one article Mr.Ashok Mitra ripped through all the major political parties.

    However most importantly In the backdrop of the presidential election, it is very important to see the track record of the candidate also.

    Reading these lines, must have given an ulcer to Pranab Da today morning.
    The most brutal attack is reserved on the communists.

    The tenure of Pranab Mukherjee for the common man has not been nothing less than torturous.

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