The Poison We Drink…

Even with a totally discredited and disconnected, scam-tainted, lame duck regime, which obsessively pampers and subsidises the super rich and fat cats of crony capitalism, and hits the vast marginalised majority of the malnourished, hungry and poor where it hurts most, post-Jaipur, the Congress seems to be crawling back to life. And, the reasons for this lie more outside the party than in its own jelly-fish umbrella fold, driven by utterly sycophantic loyalty to the dynasty, now, almost a compulsive phenomena in most political parties in India, barring perhaps the BJP and Left parties. In these circumstances, even a bumbling princeling and reluctant inheritor like Rahul Gandhi seems to have boosted the sagging morale of the grand old party, and pitched it up the mythical TRP ratings.

For one, between yet another scam-tainted Nitin Gadkari, especially in a terrain stalked by thousands of farmer suicides in Vidarbha, the cold-blooded and organised loot of irrigation and Bt Cotton scams out there, a ridiculously faction-ridden party with an insatiable queue of PM aspirants, the eternally muscle-flexing, polarising, fascist of Gujarat, and all the archaic Rasputins of the RSS, the BJP is nothing but sinking in a messy quagmire of its own making.

Even Sushma Swaraj, of the Zinda laash fame who once promised to shave off her head and sleep on the ground hereafter if Sonia Gandhi becomes PM, along with the infamy of seeking 10 severed heads from Pakistan recently , and her current mentor, LK Advani, seemed to have lost out in the race for the party’s top job. The hobbly, wobbly Sangh Parivar is at its wits end – especially now that Karnataka is falling, and Jharkhand has already fallen. And, indeed, with UP virtually gone out of its Hindutva kaleidoscope and the mandir wahin banayenge slogan turning out to be a total hoax, what can the new Rajput from UP, Rajnath Singh, do for the ‘Bania party’, except to please the secret cult of the RSS? Whatever happened to that clichéd high moral ground slogan: Chaal, Charitra, Chehra! And the ‘party with a difference’!

That is, even as the Left fumbles and stumbles in the woods, in an electoral terrain of millionaire/billionaire politicians brutally controlled by big money and corporate shackles, the opposition seems to have been virtually co-opted, even as the main opposition party waits, hesitantly, for the shadow of that Frankenstein Monster of Gujarat to unfold into a carnivorous Dracula. Enter Rahul Gandhi, and he seems so decent, devoted and detached from the machinations of the political class, you really don’t have a choice: between the poison of the BJP and the nausea of the UPA, we have no choice but to drink this ‘pseudo secular’ new Indian wine, hoping it won’t leave a hangover as bad as the current robotic regime in Delhi headed by a robotic PM.

Talking of poison, Rahul said his mother cried in his room. That he will have to imbibe this poison because it is crucial for both the party and the country; it is karma, the addiction and acceptance of power – as a freedom and bondage at the same time, an eternal climb up the eternal hill.

She must have cried. She is a mother and a woman. She is surely a loving mother and a sensitive woman. The family has suffered multiple tragedies. She has suffered. He too has suffered and so did his sister. Often, completely cut-off from the world, isolated, maybe feeling marooned and melancholic.

So she knows too well, deep in her heart and political unconscious, how difficult it all is, this poison to drink, this power to sink, this crown of thorns, in this Congress party with its eternal suspension of both belief and disbelief.

Surely, she knows by now what kind of inner dynamics drives her party. Its compulsive stases and stagnations. There are many in this party whose reasons of survival, a priori, wealth, power, status and success, depends on the first family; they have neither calibre, nor vision or imagination, neither grassroots experience nor the desire to reach out; they have neither the will to dream about a different India nor the resilience or desire to change it. Many of them are multi-crore dynasties and ‘rajwaras’; princelings of discredited politicians, warlords and feudal chieftains, including many of the younger ones, and they seem as incredibly meaningless and disconnected, without a vision, as most of the eternal octogenarians in the party forever looking at the gatekeepers at 10, Janpath.

Did you ever see any of these young inheritors and upstarts at all interested in radical grassroots change, social transformation, philosophical social reforms, working for the poorest of the poor in thought and deed, standing with justice against injustice, fighting for equality and freedom, even standing up to speak a legitimate, clear, coherent sentence with a certain elevated enlightenment?

What is their ideology? Are they Fabian socialists, Rightwingers, crony capitalists, soft Hindutva secularists, communalists, middle of the middle rank opportunists – what? What is their paradigm of an enlightened social, aesthetic and political revolution?

Which books do they read and which movies do they watch? Are they connected with the invisible terrains of invisible India? Have they seen malnourished children? What did they do about it? What do they think of the tens of thousands of farmer suicides and vast landscape of hunger and deprivation?

Or, is it that they too are stunningly hooked on Walmart and shopping malls, looking up with awe at the 27-storeyed high rise ‘personal home’ of an obscenely super rich tycoon in Bombay? So, do they want an India of the tycoons: by, of, and for tycoons? What is their claim to fame except that they have inherited cushy, mushy, comfortable family and party empires?

Have they read Gandhi? Do they believe in Gandhi’s idea of theory and praxis? Do they believe in the Nehruvian model of development, his rediscovery of India, his secular, socialist, egalitarian principles?

That is the litmus test which the poison we all drink everyday will have to clear first. We will watch the united colours of hope in this poison. We will see how it all changes colour. From darkness to light. Light to shadow. Shadow to song. Song to slogan. Poison to poison.

Amit Sengupta started journalism when he was 19, even while he was working in the relief camps as a student of JNU after the State sponsored genocide of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. Since then, he has been an independent president of the JNU Students' Union, writer, activist and editor, closely involved with multiple people's movements and conflict zones in contemporary India. He was Executive Editor, Hardnews magazine, South Asian partner of Le Monde Diplomatique, Paris. He has earlier worked as a senior editor and journalist with Tehelka, Outlook, The Hindustan Times, Asian Age, The Pioneer, The Economic Times and Financial Chronicle. Till recently he has been a professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

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