Sunday, December 19, 2010

Divide and Fool

Divide and Fool
By M J Akbar
In Third Eye: India Today
December 17, 2010

It is a bit surprising that Digvijaya Singh proved to be too clever by half. Imitating Abdul Rehman Antulay is not the most intelligent option for anyone who wants to make Rahul Gandhi the next prime minister.

The quality of governance is recognised by the management of a crisis; the depth of a politician measured by his ability to convert a crisis into an opportunity. A good prime minister controls events; a poor one becomes their victim. Each event demands attention, for politics is a daily diet, but all facts are obviously not equal. It can take time for a headline to etch its way into the national memory; the spectrum scandal took two years to become a scar in the collective psyche.

Scars might fade but only if the wound is light; in any case, they never go away. It may sound like a paradox, but every politician knows that when corruption becomes a joke in the voters' discourse, it is no longer trivial. Each time an Indian pays some exorbitant price at the vegetable market, he is reminded, at some subconscious level, of the number of zeros in Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The figure has become a symbol of merciless greed in a culture of elitist loot.

A historic event is easily defined; it lives across the lifetime of at least one generation, and shifts perception and faith imperceptibly but irrevocably. Bofors is 25 years old, but still works as a metaphor. The attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 has changed the attitude of Indians towards Pakistan; there is no longer space in their spirit for adjustment with a neighbour that breeds, feeds and protects callous mass murderers and then trots out self-serving theories to justify criminal abetment of terrorism.

A significant charm of democracy is that every political crisis is a public carnival, open to censure of a judge, reproof of the victim, anger of the preacher and buffoonery of the jester. Do not underestimate the joker; a politician may find it easier to survive rage than lethal, viral caricature. The current crisis in the Congress is too evident to bear repetition, except that context is always a useful companion for text. The party has self-destructed in its secure southern base, Andhra Pradesh, and fragmented a vital alliance in Tamil Nadu, states that catapulted it to power in two general elections. The compensation in Karnataka, where the BJP is taking a beating, is insufficient in electoral terms. But it is the situation in the north which is probably more worrisome. The returns from its only reliable northern vote bank, the Muslims, have suddenly depreciated. In Bihar, more Muslims voted for the Nitish Kumar-BJP alliance than for the Congress. A repetition in Uttar Pradesh, where Assembly elections are likely to be brought forward to November 2011, could deflate the party into corrosive depression.

Digvijaya Singh, the party general secretary for Uttar Pradesh, is a clever man. It is a bit surprising that he proved to be too clever by half. Imitating Abdul Rehman Antulay is not the most intelligent option for anyone who wants to make Rahul Gandhi the next prime minister of India. Like Antulay after 26/11, he sought to resurrect a conspiracy theory that had become passe even in the Urdu papers where it once flourished.

The sheer audacity of an event as astonishing as the Mumbai attacks encourages doubt, which is the first step towards conspiracy. But surely Digvijaya Singh has common sense, unless he sacrificed that virtue at the altar of power. The Urdu paper theory is, in brief, that 26/11 was organised to kill Hemant Karkare, a brave police officer, because he was on the verge of exposing Hindu zealots. This implies that Hindu zealots came to a deal with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose leader Hafiz Saeed was so delighted that, with the help of ISI, he armed and trained 10 young men, and sent them on Jihad to India so that Hindu zealots might be protected! I am not a votary of the exclamation mark, but rarely has it been more necessary. You have to be scarily bonkers to believe such utter nonsense. It is one thing when an editor desperate for circulation takes recourse to stupidity.When a man who has been chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and could be home minister of India promotes such rubbish, we have to worry about the health of our politics.

A historic event such as 26/11 creates a national narrative that might blur at the edges but is essentially consistent with the truth. Digvijaya Singh compromised the Indian narrative in order to flirt with rabid sentiment.

The irony is the Congress is losing the Muslim vote because it no longer understands the Muslim vote. Indian Muslims have seen through the deception of decades. They are, at long last, rejecting the politics of fear and demanding development. Check out Bihar.


I-Ore Trading said...

Dear Mr. Akbar,

Anything lesser than this would have surprised me.

Hats off to you sir.

I run the risk of being labeled a parrot, still I will state it once more wish we had more journalist of your caliber.

India is indeed blessed to have you in this profession.

May God bless you.

Anil Kohli

ritwam said...

Mr Akbar,

How could a journalist of your calibre have misread Diggi Raja.

Congress knew before hand that Rahul's reference to US Ambassador is about to be leaked by Wikileaks...So to put the entire thing in perspective , Digvijay concocted this Charade..that it fell flat wasn't expected.

To Save the Yuvraj & drum up media frenzy, Diggi Raja, sat on a Wall but fell down in a pail of water !!..Alas

Anoop Verma said...

Great article! No one understands the Indian middle class better than M J Akbar. He is the one true God of Indian journalism. The spectrum scam has now become so big that it is going to remain a political issue for at least the next two decades, just like Bofors.

Few days ago, I heard two vegetable hawkers talking bantering with each other while trying to imagine how much money Mr. Raja could have made. In buses, metros, you can hear people from all walks of life joking about this scam and making a joke on our beloved leaders. There could be more than a dozen SMS jokes doing round on this issue.

The bottom line is that this scam has now entered the lexicon of the Indian masses in a very decisive manner. I don't think our leaders can do anything about it now. Even if the guilty are punished and justice gets done (which is extremely unlikely) the stink will remain. It is too late for Congress top brass to do anything about the spectrum scam. Nothing they do will be enough. Even if all the 176,000 crore is recovered, people are not going to be satisfied.

So the leaders of the Congress must learn to live with the spectrum taint, just as they have learned to live with Bofors. They should put the spectrum scam on the backburner and start concentrating on managing whatever is left of the economy. The prices are flying through the roof and the salaries are hitting the bottom. This has to change. They have to reform the government so that the economy takes off and people become more secure.

The survival of the party that has lasted 125 years depends entirely on the economic management of the country. The kind of banal speeches that Digvijay Singh makes only makes people yawn and change the TV channel. That guy is not just lying through his teeth, his also incredibly boring. There is a sense of déjà vu all over him. Shri Manmohan Singh has to emerge out of the shadows and start putting his stamp on the economy. Only the PM can help the party rebuild its reputation.

Searching for Sartre said...

DEAR Mr. Akbar,

I wish to God that the Digvijays of this world would scratch their heads and come up with some new theory for congress failures.The old flogged bogey horse of Hindu terrorism is a figment of imagination and lack veracity . I really wonder if he himself believes what he is ranting about . As said in the article no one will susbcribe to Digvijay's falsehood.
God bless you and protect this country from its marauders.

Titu Saffron Trident said...

akbar , do you know the most luminous illustration of devide and fool ???????????

certainly not , go and learn from


by the way there is a special article for you at TituSaffronTrident.BlogSpot.Com

the first article of the blog.
enjoy reading.

Anonymous said...

The irony is the Congress is losing the Muslim vote?

Respected M.J.Akbar
You have nicely raised a issue, which is complimentary with your high caliber as a journalist. The Indian Politics move around the Muslim Vote bank, which was the monopoly of congress on the name of secularism. Now the the people have understand that Hindu is not a religion, and the fear from the Hindu is a fabricated version.Hence the congress has lost the faith of Muslim voter. The 26/11 episode has given the opportunity for divide and fool?
The spectrum scandal is only one, who came into light due to big Rs 1.76 lakh crore amount. Otherwise the 10 % commission is a culture of scam and corruption, which has taken a legal right. every where. It is managed by the caucus in the different departments. If the head, or final sanctioning authority opposes, he may be kicked off? The present crisis may be a opportunity to eradicate the corruption from its universal source PWD. Which has been started from British time, the culture of corruption from this has taken the shape that "WE are one".

BK Chowla, said...

What surprises me is the set of advisor RahulG and SoniaG have.With a number of experienced congmen with them, why are they losing out?


Sushil said...

Akbar sir...
very well happened with me. i cursed almost everyone(PM,FM,TM,media,businessman) while paying for vegetables,gas, petrol and what not??? i read one article which was aimed at what could have been done with this 1.76 lakh cr..and how much that money is needed in a country like India...was amazed to know that 400 million people's lived could have been improved(education & health).

Abhishek said...

Spot on...

Prahlad said...

Every Indian should condemn the kind of politics Mr Digvijay Singh is involved in. I thank you for your writing on the subject.

Prahlad said...

Every Indian should condemn the dirty politics of Mr D Singh.

I thank you for writing on the subject.

Tiranga said...

Shukria Akbar ji
Pl. edit whatever you may find inappropriate.


I address political class, their cronies & reckless section of media:
( Kavita Karkare, the widow of the slain officer, says “This mockery of my husband’s sacrifice for political gain should stop”, was her response to The Congress general secretary, Digvijay Singh accused Hindu terrorists of killing Mumbai’s ATS chief, Hemant Karkare, on 26/11.
now media terror resorts to colour majority Indians. ) But I say that :


Bhartiya TIRANGA is my religion, cast and creed.

I am an Indian. I am an artist. I play with colors in hope to create and construct.
I see a few anti national elements these days who are hell bent to confuse and destruct.

I AM aam aadmi. I bow only to THE INDIAN FLAG. Therefore, I state to all politicians that all colours are pure. I plead, do not contaminate them by your sullied morals. Saffron is my peace, that emanates from Tiranga. Do not mess with it.

Saffron symbolizes NOT TERROR , NOR RELIGION.
Go to your mothers or a school to study elementary art, religion, history, civic duty and morality.
Learn colour of HUMANITY.

Today, our national pride and Indian identity stands INSULTED by a section of paid media and UPA government by their "original concept" of " Saffron Terror ".

PC Chidambram needs reminding that he is a public servant in INDIA and not a mullah in IRAN where such proclamation is made to "BRAND, CENSOR,CONTROL" its citizens. TOI is UPA's barking pooch to call TERROR as SAFFRON.

Congress plenary gave timely tutorial in theory of COLOUR, in wake of wikileaks' Rahul banter. A ploy to hoodwink public away from all SCAMS and National security issue.

They aim to hypnotize Indian masses in learning Congress's definition of "COLORS" vs symbols vs religion, thus instigating aam aadmi to paint a picture black and blue. So very DARK.
This is a flimsy tactic of creating communal disharmony which is aimed to create confusion and CHAOS.

But today, Indian public is busy crying over onions,
and NOT with learning Congress's definition of "different" "COLORS". Public focus is intense and UPA or other corrupt parties CANNOT distract us away from scams, ill actions and looting.

Since you wont stop dirty politics
I too shall question again and again: WHY DISCRIMINATION ?

IS History repeating itself???

Blacks, Indians and Dogs NOT ALLOWED !

Oops, forgot to paint your election sign-board slogan, to say:

GAREEB, Hindu and cows HATAAO !


Hindu se Dalit, Muslim aur Christaan ko bachaao

What right you have to divide Indians in vote bank slots?

All Indians are equal and are "ONE in COLOR, CAST and CREED".

TRICOLOR shivers in TERROR and hangs in Shame by your "faulty color code".

"Saffron Terror ".
"Hindu Terror " ?
"Green Terror"
"Islamic Terror" ?
"White Terror"
"Sikh terror" ?
"Black Terror"
"Christian Terror" ?

Oh How I wish
I feel Proud again
of my country
and look to my leaders for inspiration
but alas they are all DEAD
( if any living? I have lost their address... )

I take some solace in 'memory' of BHARAT
and my ancestors...who are long gone and forgotten...

I am aam aadmi
Bharat ke is varsh me, insulted , Hungry, cold, forgotten...

Yet you may call on me again, for my one vote

I wait ...I wait... I shall wait, for the day
for my right

(you SCAM-bags)
you repaint my TIRANGA
with traumatic hues.

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Omendra Ratnu said...

Sharp intellect, ruthless honesty, and lack of melodrama .. We need people like you to lead us from the front Sir !

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रजनीश said...

Respected sir,
I love your writings and appreciate your straight forward opinion. Though my English is very poor, but have activated the 'word translator by hovering on'to read and understand you.

Prashant said...

Dear Mr. Akbar,

Why i believe in you what is a proof you are not playing politics.

Secondly Its a good article based on facts all i know so straight forward.

But when you talk about politics , politician it confuse me.

these days actually i just believe in facts and create my own thoughts.

Prashant Sharma