... aur anta mere baap ka'.
The Prime Minister has finessed everybody, including Sonia Gandhi. Wow!
There is a vanity that Marxists like to flaunt, called "forces of history". This holds that in the shaping of history, individuals don't matter and that there are huge forces at work which determine both the processes and the outcomes. The truth, of course, is that this is the Marxist version of the theory that God is responsible for everything.
Clearly, Russian history would have been vastly different had Trotsky listened to Lenin and become General Secretary of the Communist Party instead of allowing Stalin to grab the post, which allowed him control of what in India is so drearily called "postings and transfers". In Stalin's case of course, the transfer was to Siberia and the posting to heaven.
Much of the melodrama that Indian politicians have now served up before a tired and irritated Indian public can be explained by making this simple substitution: replace all the humbug about history being made with Manmohan Singh, Prakash Karat and Sonia Gandhi — the fog lifts and everything becomes crystal clear.
Those who have observed Manmohan Singh over the years will tell you that if he wants it badly enough, he gets it. There has never been an instance in his public life when this has not happened. Never, period.
They will also tell you that be it not so low a posture or post, if he thinks it will advance his cause, he will take it. In 1971, when he joined government, many people thought that from a professorship at the Delhi School of Economics to a lowly economic advisor in the commerce ministry was an absurd exchange.
A mere six years later, he was Secretary to the Government of India, a post that others get after 32 years. Five years later he had become RBI Governor. Nine years later he was finance minister; and just a brief eight years after laying down that post in 1996, he was prime minister of India! Match that.
Manmohan Singh is a very, very clever man. You have to be very, very stupid to mess with a man like that. That is what Prakash Karat did and which is why he now faces a force of history that no one ever wants to face in any walk of life: the contempt and ridicule of the peer group. Politicians across parties and especially in the CPI(M) — and very especially the Bengalis in it — regard him as an unmitigated disaster. He commands no respect at all.
Mr Karat made the classic error: he opened two fronts at the same time, one with Manmohan Singh and another with the CPI(M) Bengalis, who, since 1977, have regarded the party in exactly the same way as the Gandhi family regards the Congress party — as private property. It was no coincidence that Malayalis like EMS Namboodiripad and Krishna Iyer began talking of ideological purity in the 1980s. Karat and Yechuri were the result. It is no coincidence that neither of them is a Bengali. It was Bengali hubris that allowed Karat to become General Secretary. The old Bong vs Mallu fight has come out in the open.
But why are people laughing at Karat? Because his bluff has been called; because he is being used by other political parties; because he will get his party to vote with the BJP; because he has dragged the Speaker into it all; because he thinks India is safer with a nuclear Iran than it is being friends with the US; because he has allowed his party to be projected as China's servant; because he has never won an election; because, very simply, he is so deliciously incompetent that even Sonia Gandhi shines in comparison.
Mrs Gandhi now has to face a question that everyone is asking: why was she silent about the nuclear deal until now? Many theories are floating about and, as is often the case in politics, all are probably true in some minute way that can never be verified.
Equally importantly, consider her dilemma vis a vis Manmohan Singh now. If the Congress comes back to power, in the sense that the next prime minister is from it, she can't discard him. And if it doesn't come back, it doesn't matter anyway. Like others who took him for granted, she too has been left standing. However, unlike in the CPI(M), it is unlikely that anyone in the Congress is laughing at her or has even realised what an enormous victory Manmohan Singh has won.
In Hindi it is known as "chit bhi mera, pat bhi mera, aur anta mere baap ka" (heads I win, tails you lose, and the coin is my father's).
And the BJP? That distant rumble you hear is the sound of the Great Indian Public roaring with laughter.
Jul 19, 2008
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