Friday, September 9, 2011


It is not Sonia Gandhi alone who has returned to a changed India after spending five weeks at an undisclosed location for an unknown surgery. Lal Krishna Advani too is in the same boat, despite having been in Delhi all the time.

Whether Sonia Gandhi will be allowed to see the clear writing on the wall by the wall of advisors who have kept her insulated from the people for all these years, will only be known in the days and months, not years, to come. But there is clear evidence that Advani’s advisors are hell bent on guiding him into cuckoo land.

The grand old man of the Bharatiya Janata Party, manifestly enthused by the unexpected popular upsurge against UPA's corruption, -- and sensing an early collapse of Sonia’s government-- wants to drive his Rath into it, in the hope that he will be able to capture the imagination of the people once again, and ride on the tidal wave that Anna has generated, to 7 Race Course Road, at long last.

Perhaps he needs a badly needed reality check, to finally realise that he is Mr. Rip Wan Winkle waking up in a new, restless India, impatient with and unaccepting of the ways and intentions of politicians, and the slow pace at which most of them are delivering less than satisfactory results. No longer can Indians be fooled with worn out clichés and excuses; dramatically better results of good, clean governance are there for all to see in some states, and there is no place for the rest to hide. Series of scams have only heightened the culpability of the corrupt and the inefficient focused on making quick mega bucks.

Advani is a pillar of the old guard, of continuation of the old ways, of status quo -- anti-change. Ironically, that is precisely what a man half his age also symbolises, despite perfunctory and half-baked noises to the contrary. That is mainly why Rahul Gandhi has failed to enthuse India despite seven years of perhaps the most sustained and carefully calibrated media campaign to project him as a modern youth icon, as the great new hope for India. Neither Advani nor Rahul have anything new to offer to India; neither of them carry the credibility that is needed to carry the masses with conviction. For different reasons, both are trapped in and bound to the past, both have skeletons on their backs.

Surprisingly, it has taken a 73 year old man to awaken We The People -- the youth, the poor and even the privileged -- to the realisation that politicians across the spectrum are retarding India’s growth. Army man and Gandhian Anna Hazare has most unexpectedly emerged from a small village in Maharashtra to shake Delhi’s politicians like no has since 1947, like no politician thought was possible before August 16, 2011. In 13 days flat, he has forever changed India, and there is no going back. Unless, of course, Anna’s advisors too fall prey to inducements of different kinds and corrupt the purity of the energy that he has generated and spread across India.

The stench of corruption emanates from all parties. The Congress smells the foulest because it is in power and also because its government, micro-managed by a paranoid Sonia Gandhi, has broken all records of plunder with an air of arrogance and shamelessness that has sent shudders down India’s spine. The BJP too now looks no better than a clone of the Congress. Its dramatics in Jharkhand, Karnataka and Uttarakhand have been as bad as those of the Congress anywhere. The manner in which its central leadership has scored self-goals repeatedly and made the party look even worse than an exposed Congress, has not escaped attention of the people.

In this light, for Advani to undertake a a rath yatra against corruption is akin to a corrupt man protesting against his own corruption! That he has manifestly been motivated to do so by the caucus that has his ear exposes another yawning hole in BJP’s armour: it has no other leader who believes he/she can connect to the people and carry them along his/her rath, much less to the voting booth – the real reason for the nautanki no one is going to buy any longer.

Does anyone believe Sonia Gandhi when she says she will fight corruption? Similarly, it seems they don't believe Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley, BJP's self-appointed prime contenders for the Prime Minister’s chair. The duo tested their ability to convince and lead people in two popular causes they thought they would be able to: protest against price-rise and the Tiranga Yatra to Lal Chowk. They know they cannot connect and that people will most likely boo them should they lead a copy-cat anti-corruption campaign. Hence they have put Advani’s head on the block; if he succeeds, they get the spoils; if he fails, the brickbats will be his alone. Win-win.

Yes, some surveys show that there is a huge swing away from the Congress. But Advani should not mistake it as a swing for the BJP. The swing is for real change, not for BJP, not for continuation of the old ways, no matter which political party is in power. If people are punishing Congress today, they will doubly and even more swiftly punish BJP tomorrow if it continues to remain no more than ‘B’ team of the Congress.

Advani needs to realise that the wind of the anti-corruption movement is in Anna’s sails, not his. He is only becoming a fall guy for BJP’s self-goal scoring, self-centered caucus. People of Anna’s India are not going to vote for Advani as PM now. They are yearning for change; he represents stasis. He will, therefore, do well to put his personal ambitions aside, call off his Vyarth Yatra and deploy his energies to get his party rid of dead wood and worse.