Monday, August 22, 2011
Harakiri is the most painful ritual invented by man to kill himself. Literally it means belly-cutting. You plunge a short sword into the left side of your abdomen, then draw the blade across to the right, then twist it upward. That done, you withdraw the sword and plunge it into your chest, then draw it down to the abdomen across the first cut. Finally, you withdraw the sword and thrust it into your throat.
In the extraordinary week that has gone by, did you see Kapil Sibal plunging the sword into the left abdomen of the Congress party and drawing it to the right and then upping the blade? Did you watch P.Chidambaram sinking the sword just below the chest and then drawing it, across Sibal's cut, into the lower abdomen? In a final demonstration of superhuman resolve, Manmohan Singh withdrew the sword and in one fell swoop stabbed the throat of the party.
The end. Now bookies won't accept any bets, howsoever attractive the odds, on the Congress coming anywhere near power in the next elections.
What monumental lack of vision – or was it arrogance? – that they could not see what was happening right before their eyes. Just as masses of people came out in the 1942 movement demanding independence, people came out last week demanding an end to corruption. The extent of popular disgust with corruption was completely lost on the leaders of the Government.
They thought it was all about a feeble old man trying to usurp the powers of Parliament. They thought that they could win the day by discrediting the man and showing him as corrupt himself and, for good measure, as an agent of dark forces out to destabilise wonderful India with its wonderful economy. What monumental misreading of a situation.
Actually Anna Hazare is not an issue at all. The right to enact laws is not an issue. The only issue is corruption. This is the issue that brought masses of Indians out into the rain. To them Anna Hazare is just a straw of hope. They clutch it because they do not get even a straw from the Government's side. As the public perceives it, Anna is fighting corruption, the Government is fighting Anna, therefore the Government is supporting corruption. How foolish of the Government to spread such an impression.
It does not matter that the mass uprising finally forced the Government to accept defeat and allow Ramlila Maidan to turn into a symbol of People Power. For the Government had lost the trust of the people even before the Hazare wave rose. The worst corruption scandals came up during its watch, men like Suresh Kalmadi were protected for too long, the chase of illegal money in Switzerland was managed with obvious lack of interest leading to the suspicion that top people in the Congress had things to hide. Finally they tabled a Lok Pal Bill that could provide more protection than punishment to the corrupt. This is a Government whose intentions are perceived to be dishonest.
The big surprise is that it could not even device an intelligent strategy to meet the crisis. Imagine pretending that the decision to arrest Anna Hazare was taken unilaterally by the Delhi police with the political leadership having no say in the matter. Another dumb idea was to proclaim, “Take the media away and there would be no Hazare phenomenon”. We can also say: Take the media away and there would be no Manish Tiwari, or Abhishek Singhvi or even Kapil Sibal phenomenon. They took the media away during the Emergency, yet the phenomenon of Indira-Sanjay Gandhi's defeat in the elections happened. It's the people who matter and you can't take the people away.
Today's Congress leadership has proved that it has no capacity to govern this country. It must go and it will. The tragedy is that the people have nothing to fall back upon, except the party of Yeddyurappa.