India is in the midst of another tamasha linked to coalition politics with the DMK withdrawing support to the Congress-led government.
The DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi is a first-rate example why no job beats being a politician in this country. He is nearing 90 and harbors hopes to be chief minister of Tamil Nadu again. Even Ratan Tata has slowed down in his mid-70s. Strictly by age criteria, not record or statistics, Karunanidhi is the Sachin Tendulkar of Indian politics. Contemporaries such as Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani have faded. Manmohan Singh is headed for retirement.
The DMK head and his large family courtesy multiple devoted wives, sons and nephews happily preside over a huge business empire comprising TV channels, airlines, real estate, telecom that is concomitant to political power in India today. To add to the riches, cronies appointed as DMK ministers at the center looted the exchequer until the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) spoilt the party.
The DMK’s move to withdraw support to the Congress government is driven by selfish emotive politics. Karunanidhi hopes to sway voters by shedding copious crocodile tears on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils. In true spirit of the law not applying to those who consider themselves above the law, Karunanidhi’s peeve is also that New Delhi has not done enough to protect his darling daughter Kanimozhi from the corruption charges linked to the telecom scam.
Despite the latest political drama, most normal folks are going about their business as usual, inured by vicissitudes of coalition politics over time, except TV anchors who have declared general elections in India on behalf of the election commission.
The stock markets, already in the doldrums, have crashed further, prompting the TV anchors to again declare that India’s growth story is dead, on behalf of the planning commission, economic survey and international ratings agencies.
Various permutations are being made to ascertain whether the minority government will collapse or survive, like it is when the Indian cricket team loses too many matches in a big tournament. The chances of making it depend on the results, fixed or otherwise, of other contestants and parties.
However, just as the Indian cricket team springs surprises by winning the World Cup or more recently whipping the Aussies so bad that they are sledging each other and not Harbhajan Singh, coalition politics too has its unusual elements.
The always irrational Mamata Banerjee has again sprung a shocker, by being reasonable for a change and said her party will support the government, as the country’s foreign policy cannot be dictated by regional sentiments. Could this be the first sensible statement by Mamata in her political career? Will she finally stop opposing herself as chief minister? Let’s hope for the sake of Bengal.
So, no elections for now, as some psephologist gleefully predicted, given their opportunity to earn quick bucks as part time TV and print commentators. The coalition tamasha will of course continue and only gain in intensity as India heads towards elections in 2014 or maybe earlier.
There are too many mercurial characters about – Mayawati, who as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh built hundreds of statues in memory of her own self. She also claims that her diamond collection have been presented by her impoverished but loving dalit supporters. If the poor have diamonds to offer in this country, then Tiger Woods will remain loyal to his new lover.
Then there is Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is so wily that he often outwits himself. Another important personality is Jayalalitha. She has an ego, as actor-producer Kamal Hassan will vouch, albeit very privately, a million times.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar, another important leader, is uncomfortable about the rise of Narendra Modi. To outdo Modi’s electoral pitch, Kumar has touted the secular Bihar growth model, as opposed to Modi’s Gujarat growth model, give and take a few communal riots in which hundreds of Muslims are killed.
Both obviously want to appeal to the restless middle class voters that continually want to upgrade to a bigger car, house and latest Iphones with smarter features.
Modi’s development credentials have an edge. He has turned an already prosperous Gujarat more affluent that appeals to the high EMI, lifestyle disease prone acquisitive middle class. Kumar’s efforts are about uplifting the poor and removing poverty, to make something out of nothing. Given the masses of impoverished in Bihar, any change translates to high growth. The Congress, meanwhile, senses an opportunity.
It sees a potential ally in Kumar, provided of course the Bihar chief minister fawningly endorses as stupendous Rahul Gandhi’s vision for India that nobody has a clue about, including Rahul Gandhi. Only Digvijay Singh apparently knows.
Indian politics is headed for even more volatile day’s ahead, plenty fodder for lazy arm chair journalists, like yours truly.