Nuke deal and political mudslinging…

Posted by Yashika Totlani Khanna on 12:32 AM in , , , ,
I just got up after watching an interesting episode of Devil’s Advocate where Karan Thapar interrogated our union science and technology minister Kapil Sibal about his beliefs and opinions on the trust vote due on the 22nd of this month. True to his prototype, Kapil displayed ardent devotee ship towards the congress and bashed the nda in the worst possible manner. He emerged victorious as one of the few speakers unrattled by Thapar’s volley of questions. Right from claiming that he personally knew quite a few young bjp mps’ who supported the deal, to alleging that the repeated ‘U-turns’ just indicated that LK Advani puts his prime-ministerial ambitions over national interest… he left no stone unturned in criticizing the opposition. He personally authenticated the happening of a upa-nda meeting on the 20/21/22nd of December last year (he wasn’t sure about the date) where, according to him, Advani first promised support to Manmohan Singh on the deal after being briefed about the viability of its contents, and later turned his back on these very promises. He quoted Jaswant Singh too where he had once (supposedly), in august 2007, given a thumbs-up on the 123 agreement to everyone - the NSA, the foreign secretary and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission; at a meeting organized by the pm. After the initial minutes, it became clear that he was taking this opportunity to be on a public talk show to clarify the government’s stand on the trust vote and to show that within themselves the congress is sure of winning a majority on tuesday. He also confirmed that for achieving this purpose, offering monetary inducements to undecided mps is not a part of Mrs. Gandhi’s agenda. I also remember a snide remark about bjp having ‘no real power’ and blindly doing anything to chase it.
(Corollary to this, Thapar took his word and wrote about the two meetings in Sunday Sentiments, his weekly column in Sunday HT.)

Now its one thing to be one of India’s best lawyers… completely another to maculate another party’s image in public based on fanciful statements and assumptions. How much of what he says is fact or fiction, we’ll never know. But the knowledge that a leader as convincing as him moulds public opinion in his favor by confidently delivering half-truths is disturbing. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard him talk at length. Infact a few months back when I was still an inquisitive delhi university student, he had come to the vice-chancellor’s office to impart a lecture on the nuclear deal as a part of the university’s ongoing lecture series (a series that was later graced by amartya sen, his holiness the dalai lama and many a few nobel laureates). Listening to him then and having asked him a few questions on the n-deal myself, I was quite convinced of the importance of India’s go ahead with it. So compelling were his assertions that we in the audience were left with little scope to negate him.

The spell continued for a long time until one fine day when Sitaram Yechury from the cpi(m) politburo was invited to speak in the same lecture series. He, with his speech, managed to shatter some myths. Yechury highlighted what Sibal had so effortlessly camouflaged. Though not an orator of Kapil’s stature, he still managed to drive his point across with reasonable arguments and even distributed (nominally priced) hand-outs at the end of the session to ensure that we took his wiles home to ponder (I retain my copy to this day).

Ironically both stephanians born under the zodiac sign of leo, they interestingly cut across right what the other had tried so hard to enforce. Kapil’s oratory strategy is simple- be elusive about whatever you cant answer and substantiate the elusiveness with examples, facts and figures. In the open Q&A session, he would intimidate any assailant to the extent where he would suddenly be reduced to a joker firing irrelevant questions. Yechury, on the other hand, was a little less shrewd and a lot more politically incorrect. Where Sibal weighs his words in the scales of diplomacy each time before saying them, Yechury is blunt as a knife. Name taking is common. Diplomacy can take a back seat.

While listening to them both seemed highly enriching at that time, now I realize that I had just witnessed a round of political mudslinging. In those hallowed convention halls in the heart of DU, we had been subject to what was soon going to blow up into one of India’s biggest political controversy. Fast forward to present day, in the day of rising inflation and dipping sensex… our political stability hangs by a thread. Whether the upa will be able to sustain a majority and proceed with the nuclear deal remains to be seen. What is apparent now is filthy political give and takes, where criminals like Shibu Soren are being offered chief ministership of Jharkhand by the bjp in return for pledging his mps to them for the crucial trust vote. From Mayawati to Amar Singh, the quest for poaching mps is on. If worst comes to the worst, it wouldn’t be long before Behenji takes over as our next prime minister… flying high on these very rounds of political backstabbing, switched ideologies, public glib-talking, and a few people’s zest to satisfy political vendetta.

Political equations are changing and loyalties are being tested. The upa seems all set to press the accelerator on reforms. It is now taking steps to educate the people about the intricacies of the n-deal and how it’s beneficial for the country (something they should’ve done a long time back). That explains P.Chidambaram taking over Vir Sanghvi’s column in Sunday Hindustan Times’ center page to ramble about ‘deconstructing the deal’ for common good.

It’s hard to remain aloof when all the newspaper headlines, editorials, tv reports and interviews are discussing the n-deal and trust vote. The parliamentary tamasha on Tuesday remains to unfold… but whatever be the result of the big confrontation, it seems the only real losers after the battle concludes, will be us - the junta. A weakening economy and unstable political climate later… god bless a country run by corruptible leaders and power hungry politicians. One word for the contenders of our governance – the fight for power has been shameful.

P.S. More on the nuke deal here.


The popcorn doesnt taste that nice any longer eh?? :P :D but jokes apart, this is perhaps one of the best pieces to come out of your stable. The analysis and 'deconstruction' of Sibal and Yechury was complete and thorough. Obviously you had your ears open in those DU debates. :) Though to be fair to them, they were both utilising the public forums a democracy offers to mould public opinion. Sibal is of course a lawyer and hence, the aggresiveness, the diplomacy and the tendency to side step tricky issues and butress home his argument with all the forcefulness of a medieval knight on the charge. (All of these qualities manifest themselves in his political rival and tv competitor Arun Jaitley). Yechury, of course, is your typical Communist politician from JNU - a rabble rouser, holding no punches - and as you have pointed out, the university habit of distributing pamphlets hasnt exactly deserted him :)
Political debates are supposed to be nasty, acidic and acerbic. In India though they still have retained a modicum of decency. Sibal and Yechury are only targeting the political hypocrisies and idealogical hollowness of their rivals - unlike of course the US, where Barack Obama has won an acrimonious nomination where his ethnicity, religion and heritage were all brought to the forefront.
What is unacceptable though is perhaps the deal swinging, voting not by conscience but by cash - one can understand voting by political convenience - if Ajit Singh gets a better deal from Mayawati, so be it...but voting for cash is a bit like a whore selling herself to the highest bidder - and i am sure that even in that profession, some ethical rules do exist.
What i do eagerly await though is the next series of the DU lectures and whether a certainlady from UP will get an invite for the same... :) wonder what Madam Maya would have to say from the rostrum of DU - get me my popcorn...i wud like to sit through that :)

@the lazy knight: Thanks, first for the comprehensive comment and then for the ‘best post out of my stables’ compliment :)

Was experimenting with a first all-political post and guess the experiment worked out well. And what’s more, look who I made a popcorn-fan(atic) like me!! Good to see. About the comment, yeah understood the story behind sibal and yechury being the way they are. And you’re right when you say arun jaitley isn’t too far behind (an srcc and law faculty grad, du churns out quite an ambitious lot of people). You were also accurate when you said our polling isn’t as verbally-filthy as the us presidential elections. But the difference here is… while their combats die with the elections, our verbal wars are an ongoing feature of Indian politics. No holds barred…. junta like me gets to munch on their popcorns throughout the show :D

P.S. If I get to hear about the next lecture series, be sure that I’ll keep you posted.
P.P.S. Oh btw if your brain still allows you to remember that far back, you had an invite from me for the dalai lama lecture as well.
P.P.P.S. Keep visiting… your comments are eagerly awaited too :)

A couple of queries
1.What inspired this?
2.Why did you go so soft on the NDA?
Btw, more people seem to be going editorial. Really nicely written. Can possibly lead/mislead people :P
Update the cnn-ibn blog link if you can :)

@arunabh: your answers-
1) a lotta newspaper reading/tv watching/independednt thinking/strong opinions/zest to inform public inspired this.
2) went soft on the nda bcoz, you guessed it, im slightly advani inclined. but only slightly :P

Hadnt intended to write an editorial, but thanks nonetheless :)

Have updated the ibn blog... with just an old post though. Still, comments solicited :)

i can see the knight effect rubbing off on ur posts as well :))

im sorry i have nothin to contribute. i dont watch the news, i dont read about politics, im bad at current affairs... actualy id say i dont care a damn.

im more of entretainment and arts and lifestyle and environment etc kinda person...

nevertheless its grt seeing u online again. i promise ill publish my long due story soon.

@aditi: just a nudge in the right direction. keep visiting... your post is awaited :)

Copyright © 2009 Yashika T Khanna All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek. | Bloggerized by FalconHive.