Thursday, April 9, 2009

Down and dirty.

Its still early days and this election season has thrown so much filth already. Beginning with Varun Gnadhi's vitriolic campaign speech to Lalu Prasad Yadav's reply to the same, its been a never ending spectacle of the depths our public discourse has plumbed to. All discussion so far has been about complete non-issues. No major political party has come out with a manifesto where issues of any significance has been dealt with. Instead we've had the BJP and Congress vying for top honours with regards to blatant populism. All thats left is for the third front to announce free rice for everyone below the poverty line.
But to begin at the beginning, whats sad about Varun Gandhi's speech is not that he said those things but that he said it. This is a young, articulate and educated man, one of the GenNext of Indian politics, with blood ties to Jawaharlal Nehru. For him to have said these things just shows how deplorable things have become. And the BJP did itself no favours among the voters, with the way the party tried to spin what is obviously a condemnable statement. Ofcourse, Varun Gandhi's immaturity has given every bit player in every other party to make hay while the sun shines. All manner of narrow minded, opportunistic politicians have jumped onto the bandwagon to protect the minority community from the communal saffron brigade as represented by Varun Gandhi. All this means that we will not have any meaningful debate in the near future about the definition of secularism or communalism as it is practised in our politics and by our Government. There would be no takers for the extreme right wing politics of the RSS/VHP if there had not been the kind of shallow appeasement and myopic vote bank politics displayed by the Congress vis a vis the Shah Bano case.
Meanwhile, the Congress has taken opportunism to new levels. Not only did they buy the rights to Rahman's Oscar winning song Jai ho (a legitimate election device some would argue), but they have also got the child stars from the slums campaigning for Madam Sonia after they were promised flats and other goodies. To complete this picture of complete chaos, we had the Samajwadi Party parade Sanjay Dutt as a possible candidate from Lucknow. Thankfuly the Supreme Court put that idea to rest. Now Sanjay Dutt is no hardened criminal and there are definitely far worse than him already in the corridors of power in our country. But for someone whose conviction is of such a high profile and for a crime associated with an event as terrible as the '93 Mumbai blasts, to become a legible candidate for the Lok Sabha will only open the doors for every underworls don with enough clout and money. Thankfully that has been averted for now.
But there a few silver linings in this dark cloud. The candidature of Shashi Tharoor from Trivandrum and Mallika Sarabhai from Ahmedabad along with many other upright individuals from society who are not stained by the muck that is Indian politics today is something to cheer about. More power to them and others like them. 

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