When I look at the composition of the opportunistic group opposed to us, it is clear to me that the clash today is between two alternative visions of India’s future. The one vision represented by the UPA and our allies seeks to project India as a self confident and united nation moving forward to gain its rightful place in the comity of nations, making full use of the opportunities offered by a globalised world, operating on the frontiers of modern science and technology and using modern science and technology as important instruments of national economic and social development. The opposite vision is of a motley crowd opposed to us who have come together to share the spoils of office to promote their sectional, sectarian and parochial interests.
Manmohan Singh’s speech after the trust vote is quite eloquent, and reflects the mood of a combative person coming into his own, after all he has just won the trust vote by quite an impressive margin given the developments last few days. There is little to differ from the intentions of the words in the speech. It is the manner in which the whole showdown was conducted and the context in which the speech had to be made at all that is questionable and where the eloquence of the words fails ground reality.
For one, in the quote from the speech above, the honourable Prime Minister refers to the opposition as a motley crowd. Perhaps in a fit of amnesia, he forgot that the Samajwadi Party is on his side now.
The last few days, MPs’ votes were traded like… well, not even horses (I hope and wish) are traded in this manner. Parties changed their partners with unabashed promiscuity. Some MPs whose vote lay on one side found their parties voting on the other one. The ‘secular’ Punjab Congressmen and women appealed to the Akali Dal to vote in favour of the first Sikh Prime Minister even as elsewhere havans were performed for the UPA’s survival. The Prime Minister himself quoted Guru Gobind Singh’s sacred words to a less than sacred audience that included Messers Pappu Yadav and Mohd Shahabuddin. Manmohan Singh conspicuously spared Mahatma Gandhi by not mentioning him in the speech. The old man had something to say about ends and means that the PM would rather not be reminded of at this moment.
In fact, the only persons he has mentioned in his speech are Rajiv Gandhi (twice) and Jawaharlal Nehru who gets a passing mention.
Carrying forward the process started by Shri Rajiv Gandhi of preparing India for the 21st century, I outlined a far reaching programme of economic reform whose fruits are now visible to every objective person.
Leaving aside the fact that it is precisely during the last nearly two decades of these far reaching reforms some of the non- objective persons have been committing suicides by the hundreds, one would have thought that the good doctor mention his true mentor- Narasimha Rao, who exchanged some suitcases with gentlemen like Shibu Soren. But memory can sometimes play truant, and one must admit that the PM is not getting any younger.
As for the doctor’s leadership skills, the lingering question remains on why he was not able to take his allies, and the nation at large, along with him on the nuclear deal if it was so important and why he had to to lean on wheeler dealers like Amar Singh to survive. If by bringing the government to the brink of collapse, he showed himself as a worthy apparatchik of the same stature as Com Karat, after the vote today he has emerged at best as a political leader in the footsteps of his mentor Narasimha Rao, whom he forgot to mention in the speech.
Will the UPA now be able to pursue the lofty vision that the speech indicates? Or would it be now time to pay back the newly incurred debt to Amar Singh? By the way, the man does deliver (and I am referring to Amar Singh here.)
Thanks to Amar Singh and the SP, the Manmohan/Congress/ UPA government may have found its feet, but it does not not mean that the murky waters it is wading in will not go over their heads soon. In the words of Faiz Ahmed Faiz:
paaposh ki kya fikr hai, dastaar sambhalo
payaab hai jo mauj, guzar jayegi sar se
(It is not time to worry about your feet, it’s your turban (honour/prestige) that is at stake,
The flows (of the rivers) that are still at your feet, will soon drown your heads)
Even the feet, the good doctor may soon realize, are on slippery ground.
As for Prakash Karat and Com Bardhan, the waters crossed their heads the day they actively started the campaign to bring down the government, and anointed Mayawati Kumari as their de facto leader.
If there is one person who has come out respectably through all this, it is Somnath Chaterjee, and Mayawati as possibly the person to watch out for, despite the setback to her today. The BJP’s lackluster performance should not hide the fact that it may be the ultimate beneficiary of the developments leading to the trust vote and the cynicism that it breeds. Mass political cynicism is often the harbinger of extremist (read fascist) politics.