ArpitGarg's Weblog

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Posts Tagged ‘local

Strokes of a Political Genius

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Indian politics has always excited me. From time to time we come across political news that makes headlines. Some of them are really special. They involve a showstopper and work of shrewd political genius. How the masters of the game are able to come out of it with flying colors makes the crux of a great politician. The top three that I observed during recent years are as below:

1.    Mulayam Singh and Nuclear Deal
During UPA-I Congress was struggling to get the nuclear deal passed. PM had stated that theirs was not a one-point-understanding with the allies (presumably the Left). When Left decided to part ways, it seemed all but over as far as the deal was concerned. Just then Congress received support from unexpected quarters. Mulayam Singh who had always lambasted Congress and BJP for Babri demolition and undermining Muslim interests came to the rescue. There was a bottleneck though. BSP projected the deal as anti-Muslim and there was a threat of SP losing Muslim votes which were its bread and butter in UP.

It looked a Catch-22 situation for Mulayam Singh. He stated that his party would be taking an independent advice from the experts as per the viability and usability of the deal. They could confirm anything only after the said advice. It didn’t seem enough. If he supported the deal, BSP was bound to make it difficult for SP to hold the Muslim votes. A lost battle.

Mulayam then showed why is he the gladiator of Indian politics. Next day, papers were filled with details of the meeting between APJ Kalam and Mulayam Singh. Kalam like any other scientist and expert was expected to support the deal and he did. It was a master move by Mulayam. He brought in a Muslim expert to counter the threat to Muslim vote. Support of Kalam countered any threat by BSP. Clean Sweep.

2.    Sharad Pawar, Congress and Price Rise
The issue unfolded over the last few weeks. Spiraling prices of food items left Congress with little space to breath. Government of the Aam aadmi was seen as a pickpocket. Congress diverted the blame to Pawar. He was after all the agriculture minister. There were noises from Congress calling him a direct beneficiary of spiraling sugar prices. The Sugar King! Pawar never likes to be cornered. There was a need to shut the Congress up, which he also perceived as a threat to the solidarity of NCP. There have been overtones from State Congress from time to time to assimilate NCP and Congress. There was an urgent need for a master stroke. But what?

The genius of Pawar came into play. He took advantage of being involved with cricket and being the ICC President in waiting. Shiv Saina, which had almost given up on opposing entry to Aussie cricketers in Mumbai, was used as a pawn. Pawar took BCCI chief and met Thackeray at his residence. Gave a presentation and asked him to allow Aussies in Mumbai.

What it did was to give credence to Shiv Sena, undermining the authority of State Congress. The coalition party chief himself questioned the authority of the CM. Congress backed off immediately giving Pawar latency to tackle opposition over the price rise.

3.    Rahul Gandhi and The Mumbai Local
Rahul Gandhi proclaimed from Delhi that Mumbai was for all Indians. It created ruckus across the party lines in Maharashtra. A kid from Delhi trying to dictate to Mumbai. How dare he? Shiv Sena protested hard against Rahul Gandhi and tried to project him as an enemy of Marathi Manoos, successfully enough. Rahul was viewed as a Delhi lad who lacked courage to take on Sena in Mumbai.

Rahul arrived in Mumbai. Changed his travel plans at the last moment, boarded the local and mingled with the commuters. He travelled to Dadar into the Sena’s bastion and at one go, Sena stood defeated. His Mumbai local trip took everyone by surprise. He showed courage. Dared to go the extra mile. He was admired by Marathi Manoos. “My father was born in Mumbai, my mother in Italy, my great grandfather in Allahabad, and I live in Delhi. Where should I say I belong to?” He floored even the skeptics. The Sena Bastion stood demolished.

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EMI: Behind the Spirit of Mumbai

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In midst of the recent Terror attack on Mumbai, there has been a phrase which is circulating around, “The Spirit of Mumbai”. It drives in a sudden rush of blood. Doesn’t it? It sounds real might and courage. Ultimate fighting spirit and respect to the nation. Whatever happens, life goes on in Mumbai. Such is the spirit of Mumbai. We saw it at the time of local train blasts, when the very next day, local was running full load. However resounding it may seem, it rides on a highly depressing fact, which really no one wants to touch. It’s the compulsion or mazboori as we call it that keeps Mumbai running. If we call the same “the spirit” then so be it.

What’s the compulsion on Mumbaikars that don’t/won’t let them stop? Is it the “never say die attitude” or “I can’t afford to die, helplessness”. What is it? Let’s enquire.

Recently there was a movie EMI which came with a tagline, “liya hai to chukana hi padega” i.e. you have to pay back anyhow. It’s real sad to hear but yes, it’s true. Most of us have EMI compulsions. These EMI are not always of a bank per say. The monthly bill of the grocer, the milkman, the electricity, the water, the children’s school fees, the doctors’ bill for ailing mother, the tension of marriage of the unmarried sister, the landlords’ constant calls for rent, the innocent face of the family that wants to go the new movie, the bare wrists of the wife in need of golden bangles…The list is endless. All these are the EMIs that keep us, Mumbaikars, going. What would we do, if not travel via local? The office is open. We need to work to get paid. The drive of the monthly pay check never let us cease. People call it the spirit.

Authorities take shelter behind this Spirit and we tend to forget the tragedy. Let’s not mistake our helplessness and compulsions to perform, as our Spirit. Each and every Mumbaikar dread for the safety and security of his/her family. It’s an expected behavior.  The problem is that we tend to forget and never learn from these attacks. We just say that Mumbai is standing unshaken. We are shaken, we are scared but there’s no other way round for us but to keep going. The EMI is too strong a force to let us stop.

Written by arpitgarg

December 2, 2008 at 6:24 am

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