What was that game we all played when we were children? Musical chairs, right, where the “strategy” used to be not to leave your chair till the one in front of you didn’t become free. Everybody had the same strategy. We were children. These Maharashtra politicians are up against politicians, some of the thugs while others are battle-scarred horses. They know “delay” in government formation means more money in their pockets. They all say it’s for the party as they play poker with people’s lives.
The only Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for the remarkably greedy politicians in Maharashtra unable to form a government for over three weeks is a five- letter world called chair. And we, the people of India have no option but to face the many discordant notes they strum and whistle through mikes and gently lowered windows of cars in Delhi lest they choke. During the election campaign, people lost their lives when the PMC bank shut shutter without a warning. The then Chief Minister of Maharashtra BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis has blood on his hands too.
READ: EU delegation's J&K visit not a picnic; They know it, India knows it
Winning elections is one thing. Governing is something else. One part of India is gasping for clean air, in another, there is no water, in a third, there is are floods, agrarian crisis, public health disasters. Meanwhile, politicians across the board are willing to be bought and sold in the market like rotten eggs and commentators have turned into contortionists and quick-change artists hoping they’ll get invited to television studios every day with a new theory. Most have day jobs, but TV prattle is good
As India’s economic capital went to vote last month, the BJP-Shiv Sena grandiose sounding ‘Mahayuti’ of 35 years crashed with the Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray insisting a 50 – 50 sharing of the Chief Minister’s post for 2.5 years and portfolios and former BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis refusing both demands. Something like this is imaginable is people around the table are civilised. They’ve proved they are not. As the game of musical chairs continues even as the Parliament meets for the last session of the year, the BJP has wowed it will form the government. The Mahayuti alliance which swept Maharashtra on October 24th together won 161 seats, enough to form the government, we are told, is still happening. The NCP meanwhile got 54 seats and the Congress brought up the rear with 44 in the bag, we are told, is still happening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi scolded parliamentarians today and asked them to learn from the good example of – hold your breath – the NCP, among others. If that is not a warning, what is it?
People – the young and the infirm, women who had walked for miles to reach polling booths with their hearts for a compass – are now stranded wondering where they went wrong. It is our country, it is the vote that politician come to beg when they need us, they walk into our potholes and drink water from our dirty drains. They embrace our scabs for that instant when the lights are focussed and sit on the floor with poor and outcast in leaky homes and dry rotis and onions. They rush with cameras when bridges collapse on our heads when our children die because there are stock-outs in pharmacies and government dispensaries, while they fly to distant lands to cure a toothache. Once elected they do not return for the next five years, time enough to make so much money that the international Mafiosi looks like fidgeting amateurs. Now, after exploiting our wretchedness and pain they are to unable to share a chair.
Fiery speeches and finger-pointing will not ease the BJP out of this crisis it has failed to rein in. They are coming across as opportunistic as the others and increasingly ordinary – a far cry from the India they promised in 2014. People I have spoken to say this – if only they could pull the economy up, many issues would fall into place. For that to happen Maharashtra has to be allowed to stand, its business-convening authority and international reputation is given a stable platform to stand on.
Money will only go where money feels safe and it can grow. Last time I wrote this the context of the Budget. I recall it now in the context of the electorate as an investment. Good governance looks at the electorate as an investment in nation-building just like good doctors look at public health as the absence of disease. There is just so much an educated and ambitious youth can take. There is only a point to which people will say there is no alternative. History is replete with examples where crises have thrown up alternatives.
READ: A Reporter’s Diary: Where Is The Public In Public Health?
Sonia Gandhi’s attempts to foist Rahul Gandhi as India’s Prime Minister to keep the Nehru-Gandhi lineage going has failed. Sharad Pawar has managed to get his daughter Supriya Sule installed as a politician – the smartest thing she’s said to date is that women lawmakers discuss saris in Parliament. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana are also going strong in the lineage line-up and the Thackerays are attempting a third-generation coup.
But, there’s a bigger, much more real and growing India out there, learning in leaps in bounds and demanding respect. We are watching this game where there are only empty vessels and no chairs. We are not laughing. We will strike when our time comes. Keep the faith – things are crumbling even as I write this.
(The views and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Republic TV/ Republic World/ ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd.)