• As the Truth Unfolds

    Ananya S. Guha

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    Pablo Picasso, ‘Barcelona Rooftops’ / Museu Picasso

    Everyone is talking about the results of the elections to four or five state assemblies. Some have gone into a rigorous analysis about the victory of the BJP and the AGP in Assam, the Congress loss and the decimation of the Left Front in West Bengal. Added to this, of course, is the comeback of the Left Front in Kerala. If one glances at the newspapers or web magazines, discussion normally revolves around the following: five reasons why the Congress lost, how Tarun Gogoi ensured victory for the BJP, why the Congress or Left Front lost in West Bengal (the main reason being the unholy alliance there) and so on. Then there are some articles which eulogize the Indian electorate – very intelligent, can’t fool them, they won’t be taken for a ride and what have you.

    This is undoubtedly true, but more than that voters’ intelligence is also very unpredictable! What people have not noticed is that the victory of a political power is one thing and ensuring peace, justice, liberty and livelihood is another. The anti-incumbency factor is raised again and again in Assam to justify the ouster of the Tarun Gogoi government. The surmise is also that the BJP will make forays into the embattled Northeast. ‘People want a change and in Assam they have got it’ is another untiring slogan. Some on social media have even said that Assam has now a young and dynamic Chief Minister and also good looking! Bravo. Peace be to all; and if political change can bring about peace then nothing like it. But what about other issues like insurgency and talks with the ULFA?

    The point is that politics in India has become so decrepit, so brazenly untruthful: a pack of lies where anything goes. Otherwise how can one explain the alliance between the Left and the Congress in West Bengal, when once upon a time the Left Front left the first UPA government at the centre to protest its pro-American policies? The Left has become the Right, the Centre is of course ‘Right’ (!)  and the Congress is far, far below the Centre. In West Bengal the Chief Minister has always taken a pro-people, pro-rural stance like the Left, but her party could upstage it wonderfully. And now that the ‘Right’ parties have come to power in the Northeast, they have started promising the people how immigrants, or ‘foreigners’ to be precise, will be dealt with, how the culture of the indigenous people will be ‘protected’, and blah blah blah. It is clear that ‘centrally’ protecting the culture of the country is uppermost in their minds, a culture defined and understood only by them, notwithstanding the clamour of protests among the intelligentsia.

    In Assam, a former minister – an important one from the Congress, in fact a close ally of the then chief minister – is now lauded for his political machinations in carrying the BJP through the portals of victory. He is the current political brains trust in the state, the impresario who not only brought about the downfall of the Congress government, but a man who taught them not one but ten lessons. The lesson is trumpeted: See, you do this to him, you get rid of him and this is what he does. You must pay dearly for your insidious follies!
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    The larger truth in India is the great untruth. There is no political will, let alone ideology. What is ideological is compromised at will; stakeholders come together only to capture power, pelf and ministerial berths. In my state, in Meghalaya, we know how ministerial positions or their equivalents are instantly created to keep people happy or just quiet. In this larger frame of untruth and hopelessness is positioned the ordinary citizen, who wants a quiet peaceful living, and to earn a decent livelihood with basic comforts. One aspect noteworthy about the elections in Assam is that the people came together as one, as part of a larger Assamese society, to drive out a wasted regime. That is certainly one way of looking at it.
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    The people exercise their franchise once in five years, at which point they decide what change they want. Uninterested in searching analyses by political commentators and buffs, what they want is to co-exist amicably in the midst of the highly plural world of the state or the country. When they come to power, our politicians must understand that even if they call the shots, politics is embedded in society; it has an impact on everyone. During the turn of elections, this society becomes an amorphous mass – the electorate, wily and gutsy. Our politicians must realise they cannot take the people for granted, but also that what they want above all is decent living and equitable sharing of wealth. Our politicians are duty-bound towards the unemployed, the poor and the suffering. English-speaking Marxists mouthing platitudes may not be accepted by all. Rather, a crude Mamata Banerjee who at least can deliver some of the goods, literally speaking, may be welcomed in an impoverished state.
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    So beware, as the truth keeps on unfolding, unfurling a larger canvas of hope, anger and surrender to expediency, five years can simply go by in a rush. Then change.
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    Cartoon by Bhuvanan / Courtesy the artist

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