April 21, 2012

The Competitors

So Mamata Banerjee wants to have her own TV channel and newspaper to put across the real news. She is missing Doordarshan perhaps. Anyways, you will not find a more grassroots politician than her. With her simple attire and hair style, she seems to represent the average person of Bengal.

Other politicians come with other qualities. Narendra Modi is in a hurry to convert Gujarat into China. Development seems to be his sole agenda. And he doesn't like criticism either.

Nitish Kumar tries to undo the ill effects of Laloo's 15 years in power in Bihar. He is trying to improve basic law & order. He seems to be adept at suppressing negative reporting about his administration.



Manmohan Singh happened to be at the right place at the right time during the crisis days of 1991 and he used that initial opportunity to acquire some political management skills. He has ended up as the prime minister simply because he is a politician without a base. The Family sees him as someone who doesn't represent a threat. That was Pranab Mukherjee's weakness. He is seen by The Family as too canny ... someone who might or could have led an insurrection. But Mukherjee's one constant during his long tenure in politics has been his devotion to The Family. This is what has ensured his endurance on the political stage. Others learn from the wily Pranabda. Digvijay Singh wishes to be the Pranab Mukherjee of the 21st century by serving a new generation of The Family.

Politicians in Bangalore sell off government land to benefit themselves and their benefactors. Politicians in Maharastra usurp the pricey land in Mumbai and else. Tamil Nadu politicians indulge in competitions in giving doles to the public. The Yadavs of Uttar Pradesh learnt from them and offered laptops of their own and unemployment allowance. Maya builds statues to commemorate dalit icons and counts herself as one. She has learnt from the Moghul kings and emperors who built many a monument which exist to this day.

Various politicians use various methods to acquire and than hold on to power. They know that in the long term, history is a story of the powerful few and not of the powerless many. America has had 40+ presidents in more than 200 years. They will all be remembered forever in history. They were not the most talented men in America but they used different means to reach the top and over time people will tend to attach the stamp of greatness on them more than they will attach a stamp of villainy.

JFK is remembered rather fondly and reverently and the Kennedy family has benefited a lot. Lyndon Johnson is  associated now with passing civil rights legislation. Reagan has been anointed a saint in the manner of Mahatma Gandhi in India. In 50 years, Bush (either or both) will be remembered as a great President as well ... either as the president who won the first Gulf War or as the president who took the war to the terrorists after the 911 attacks.

Richard Nixon will be rehabilitated too in time if not already. The ultimate argument will be: he was a president after all and we have to show him some respect. Of course, this applies to all the presidents.

Those who connive or conspire or sleep with the enemy and indulge in chicanery or lying end up in places of power. History, of necessity, has to be a story of those few people who are in power. The leaders become the main actors on the stage of history. So, history ends up becoming their story.

And so it goes ...



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