Allies in Lies

Or comrades in arms. Part-ners in profit? Maybe share holders in spoils. Whatever, but bluff remains the key stock in trade in this heady poll time that is already witness to a series of one night stands between quirky bedfellows making for strange politics. Welcome to the world of alliances wherein you can’t tell a friend from foe from what they say. For, everyone says every possible thing on every issue and still wants to be right, even if wrong! Confusing? Read on for more head-spinning stuff in the form of unlimited bluff.

Now, is this a poll for Lankan Parliament? Observers of the TN electoral scene cannot be faulted for such a mistaken notion. And leading the bluff brigade on this issue is the CM-who-was-not of the Greater Eelam-that-was-not, Kalaingar K. Taking time off from his favourite pastime of sorting out original and spurious Tamils from the total Tamil lot, he has now busied himself in a debate on whether Prabakaran is a friendly terrorist or a enemy freedom fighter or a wanted criminal or an unwanted pest. And having set the rhetorical ball rolling, K has since issued clarification after clarification, each more confusing than the earlier one, that now no one, and that includes K, knows where he, K, stands, though everyone, and that includes the SL army, now knows where Prabakaran now sulks, almost to the last square inch. Confounded? Well, that’s rationalism. And as usual the high point of the bluff is, you guessed, it: another bandh! How predictable these R’ists have become!

A little more of Lanka and I will move on. Jaya now pitches for a separate Eelam. Will this U turn fool Vaiko and the Left, not to speak of the SL Tamils-sympathetic vote-bank, assuming it exists? Ramadoss wants to know why the DMK did not quit the UPA on this issue. Well, for the same reason he did not ask his dear son Mani to quit, though K has not said it. Yet, he makes bold with his bluff. Sonia does not mind if her key ally K is a self-proclaimed friend of P who widowed her. Maybe, saints are beyond such attachments. But daughter Priyanka has spoken for the silent sphinx: The family has forgiven the LTTE but the nation must not spare Prabhakaran for Rajiv’s murder. Indeed, what a fine distinction. But why the double standards? After all, the family exhorted the nation and its laws to let off Quattrochi with all that Bofors booty. Is a shady Italian superior to a Tamil, terrorist though he may be? The Kalaignar must clarify; on second thoughts, we will spare him for we are now quite familiar with the modus operandi of modern rationalism: Romans are Tamils too, unlike Brahmins; many things in TN will tally with Italy. K can prove it ‘at the appropriate time’, but for now you have to take his word. Not convinced? Have a bandh! And even call it Roman Holiday, if you wish!

Now, the promised leap from Lanka, a la, Hanuman, to the foothills of Himalayas: Lalu land, to be precise. With the maverick buffoon in full flow, it is a veritable bluff parade, day after day. Former and future ally Cong is presently cattle fodder for this cowboy’s campaign. Addressing a largely Muslim audience, Lalu accused the Cong of being a party to the demolition of the Masjid in Ayodhya. The Cong is aghast, not at the rank communal insinuation passing off as secular oneupmanship, but that Lalu could rake up its failure on Babri when it has done its best to save and salvage Rabri & co, who matter more to him, from so many scandals. The party has declared that the ungrateful Lalu is out of its prospective Government. Lalu, for his part, has said he will never back a Cong candidate, now MSingh, for PM. Well, lie detectors are likely to burst in Bihar’s electoral heat!

Maya, true to her name, is a pastmaster in spinning illusions around her even while adding substance to her personal as well as vote kitty on the sly. Advani let out another cat by saying that Jaya would join the NDA post polls. J denied the ‘lie’. The Cong keeps insisting that the Left would support it after elections; the comrades have repeatedly shown the red flag to those claims and even announced that the Cong is persona non grata forever. Now, J and Left are together. Are they lying to each other even while eyeing rival camps in a grossly different post-poll scenario? Pawar’s powerplays are of a totally different genre: In Orissa, he is with the Third Front, sharing stage with the Left and Naveen. In Maharashtra, though officially with Cong, he plays up to Maratha sentiment across party and ideological lines. In the rest of the country, he is with UPA, on the dais with Sonia & Co. Indeed, with a foot in every fold, he looks the brightest prospect for PM. But he is also known to have cold feet!

There are other lies that will be laid to rest after the current polls become history. Like the one about bringing back black money of Indians from abroad. What about the stuff hoarded by these same politicos and stashed up within the country? What a red-herring! Again, it’s true in a philosophical sense that no one’s life is really secure, given the vagaries of the Maker’s mind. But when HM PC seeks to play almighty, assures ‘I’ have secured the country and advises us not to worry, even while Maoists are on rampage and Jihadis are busy regrouping, the lie is laughable, though it could be the last laugh if the latter call the lie. It looks India’s war on terror started with the appointment of Shivraj Patil and ended with his exit! But here is the latest lie: The State government’s announcement that everything will be normal on Bandh day despite the ruling party spearheading it. We know the two are as distinct as CM K and Kalaignar K. Still, those who relied on this official lie were stranded on roads, bus stops and where not; life and business suffered as usual with nary an accretion of any benefit to SL Tamils. In fact, the strikes by the SL army escalated after the strike call here. With sympathisers like these…

The absence of anything profound in the utterings is only natural given the quality and track record of the players. But the packs and piles of lies being unravelled by the day is a bit too much even for us journos who, besides lawyers and psephologists, have a professional license to lie. But amidst all this deafening din of bluffs, I can see one honest truth in bold print: The Samajwadi Party’s disdain for English. Listen to Mulayam and Amar speaking, spitting out, rather, the Queen’s language and you will have no doubts.

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Jawahar T R