Today was a good day as far as the quantity of news stories and op-eds are concerned. First there was Samajwadi Party shooting itself in the foot with its manifesto that I referred to in my previous post. Then – I didn’t notice this before but the Times of India has managed to publish the columns of a rightist (Dasgupta) , leftist (Akbar) and centrist (Swami) on the same page – Swapan Dasgupta mocks the snobbery of the elitists standing for elections-
If editorial approval, Facebook encouragement and celebrity endorsements can shape an election, Independent candidate Meera Sanyal will be the clear winner in battle for Mumbai South. Needless to say, the possibility of such an outcome is about as high as Sonia Gandhi making an extempore speech. The best that Sanyal, the “daughter of Mumbai South” who (in the spirited prose of Shobhaa De) has deigned “to get her hands dirty”, can hope is to save her security deposit. The same is true for Mallika Sarabhai who is taking on L K Advani in Gandhinagar on the strength of her illustrious surname and local roots.
They need political parties, he says. Then MJ Akbar, former editor of The Asian Age, says that Obama has committed his first howler–
If necessity is the mother of invention then politics is often the father. Barack Obama has invented a phrase that did not exist on January 20, the day he became president. Anxious to win a war through the treasury rather than the Pentagon, he has discovered something called the “moderate Taliban” in Afghanistan. Joe Biden, his vice president, has found the mathematical coordinates of this oxymoron: only 5% of the Taliban are “extremists”.
Welcome to Obama’s first big mistake.
He’s wrong. I have lost count of all the “mistakes” Obama has committed since he entered office – genuflecting before the Saudi king should probably be right up there – not to mention all the broken promises. Frost never said anything about that. As for “AFPAK,” its doomed from the very beginning and India should stay out of the whole mess. I suspect that’s why Holbrooke made the visit last week. Akbar makes eminent sense here-
Washington has a single dimension definition of “moderate”: anyone who stops an active, immediate war against the US is a “moderate”. Let me introduce him to a couple of “moderate Taliban”. They are now world famous, having been on every national and international news channel these past few days, stars of a video clip from Swat. Two of them had pinned down a 17-year-old girl called Chand Bibi, while a third, his face shrouded, lashed her with a whip 37 times on suspicion of being seen with a man who was not her father or brother.
Obama should record the screams of Chand Bibi and play them to his daughters as the “moderate” music to which he wants to dance in his Afghan war.
Then there was another edition of the daily political theater on TIMES NOW. Dileep Padgaonkar and Harish Salve proved their naiveté by asking how is it that the two major political parties cannot come up with a 1000 “non-criminal” candidates among themselves, or something to that effect. The Scindia scion proved that he is a great politician – the Congress couldn’t contain its glee while it was berating Varun Gandhi for his hate speech, but when Goswami asked him why it had not taken a position on the man-who-hasn’t-learnt-his-lessons-yet’s – Vaiko’s – threat of a “bloodbath” if the Tamil terror outfit chief Prabhakaran was hurt – he criticized-but-did-not-criticize. I think I now know which scion Ramesh Ramanathan was referring to when he wrote this-
After the Mumbai attacks, we saw many states going to the polls. I have seen some of the post-poll interactions among senior politicians, both winners and losers. One was with a political scion. This young parliamentarian told me disparagingly, “Your columns with their elegant ideas, all the media talk about a new wave of development and governance—all romantic nonsense. We are still working the same political equations on the same age-old formulae. I can show you one district where I spent months bringing development to the areas and we won just one seat. And another district where we played the most cynical form of electoral politics and we won a majority of the seats.”
I sincerely hope that Mayawati becomes the next Prime Minister of India – only then will the Indian people, and all the crooks running around come to know where their policies and politics takes them. “Louis XVI” and the “Queen of Hearts” will make a nice pair – the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy can go down the drain hand in hand.