Men of straw, women of substance



In a week full of scams and scandals and exposes all over the country, just some random thoughts about my overview of the state of the nation – or rather its leaders.

I had always considered the Congress to be a party that is too celeve by half and not given to foolish mistakes that other political parties might be prone to from time to time.

In 2007, colleagues were taking bets with me that there would be a midterm poll and I always said “Not before December 2008, if an early poll at all.’’

I was eventually proved right and I had thought the party will be able to again sail through to 2014 but it seems now more and more beleaguered and I wonder how they lost all the advantages they had in government.

In fact, that thought comes to mind with regard to other parties as well – the BJP has lost its toehold in Karnataka, the Triinamool Congress has lost its goodwill in West Bengal, the Samajwadi Party has lost its credibility in Uttar Pradesh, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party is certain it will lose the voters of farmers by the dozens after his nephew Ajit Pawar’s crass remarks, even Navin Patnaik is under siege in Orissa.

Notably the only party in governance that still holds itself together is Jayalalitha’s AIADMK and that too because it compares better with M Karunanidhi’s DMK which, I believe, might never be able to get over the 2G scam imbroglio.

In the midst of all this even if Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar seem to be doing well in their respective states, I wonder how far they will get without each other’s support and Modi is a clear no-no for Nitish as is by now amply clear.

I am beginning to increasingly believe that under the circumstances it would be better by far for the UPA to declare an early poll but from my conversations with many leaders in the Congress and the NCP, I have come to the conclusion that that will not happen unless the Congress is cornered and pushed against the wall without room to manoeuvre.

But who has the courage to bell the cat? Allegations are surfacing in Karnataka from aides of B S Yedyurappa that certain central leaders, including those with big time ambitions, were paid heavy duty money over Yeddy’s term as chief minister – and when that makes the national media, the BJP will suffer another major dent in its credibility and Nitin Gadkari’s alleged scams will be nothing compared to this one.

Similarly Congressmen in Maharashtra are waiting with xl sheets and power point presentations for access to either their party president Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring them up to date with the scams indulged in by both Sharad Pawar and his nephew but no one is willing to lend tgem an ear.

Everyone seems to be in such a mess so far as voters’ perceptions go and yet everyone seems to be sure they are becoming the next Prime Minister of India.

I wonder where that hope comes from and I shudder to think the mish mash we might soon have after the next Lok Sabha election which, knowing the Congress, might yet happen not before 2014.

All this sound and fury without much substance that is now currently underway in the country then reminds me of the popular Hindi idiom – na soot na kapaas aur julahon mein lattha latthi!

Under the circumstabcez I should be despondent and filled with cynicism but somehow I am having great fun watching all the television debates, the statements of various leaders of all political parties who are shouting themselves blue in the face and the certainty of each that each of them will be a winner.

I would like to place bets again but I guess it is too early for that. It is best not to feel too sorry for the country (don’t we richly deserve the governments we get!) and leave it to Mother India to sort it all out eventually.

But how ever did the country bring itself to such a sorry pass? I still remember the outrage I felt when I read the history book which said Winston Churchill had described the leaders of independent India as men of straw and Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel as two tired old men of Indian history.

Well, I can identify who the two tired old men of India are today and all the rest are just men of straw.

The only u hope seems to be the women – within their ideological or political limitations, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Uma Bharti, Sushma Swaraj, Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit.

They all seem to be made of better stuff. As for Mamata Banerjee, the less said, the better!

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