Year of the politician

Now that we are done with the decade debate, which, despite my best efforts, has gone in favour of ‘09s than ‘10s, the year 2009 confronts us. There is no question over that, thankfully: ‘09 is well nigh over, though it might still throw up parting shocks and surprises. In such year-end seasons, it is customory for media houses to name a Person of the Year. I would prefer to ‘honour’ a tribe instead: The Politico.

2009 would rank as the year of the Indian Politician who not only displayed remarkable immunity to the vagaries of the land and life itself but also triumphed over all laws, judicial, moral and even God’s. The year proves that the politician can get away with anything without fear of earthy comeuppance or divine retribution! There is no denying the fact that the politicians have to be great survivors in the dog-eat-dog arena they wallow in. But what starts off as simple survival tricks eventually turn out to be sterling success stories. And since nothing succeeds like success, such stories will be the template of the future, emboldening more and more political gold-diggers. The sinister sub-text of the 2009 political scenario is that the politico has emerged infallible and no power can stop him from wielding power as he/she pleases. Some samples:

For many of us in TN, at the bottom, in many ways, of the country, Jharkhand is as distant as Jamaica. But mention Shibu Soren, and even dull heads will light up in recognition. SS is now all set to become CM of that State again. The nation must have surely lost count of the number of times he had been CM, meaning both Chief Minister and Central Minister, and worse, the number of times he had to quit those posts owing to corruption/criminal charges. And everytime, he has risen like the mythical vampire. Only that the sordid Soren is real! The man owes his political immortality as much to his own immorality as to the murky political milieu of the country: He is yet another frequent flier who moves freely across the political spectrum, from UPA to NDA and back and forth. So what next there? Expect Madhu Koda back!

The Congress has its own list of spectacular survivors but nothing can match the Saint Signorita’s success story of the year. 2009 will go down in the History of Corruption as the year in which the few remaining Bofors bones were given the final burial, leaving the famed Family’s cupboard bereft of skeletons. For twenty three years now, the guns that backfired on Rajiv had been synonymous with corruption in high places and the investigation itself was one of the costiliest and dreariest, occupying public time and mind no end. Yet the nation has now been informed that the notorious gun deal was an innocent affair after all. The boom to bust Bofors saga is proof that not just the high and mighty, but their in-laws and even pet outlaws, like Q, too are above law. Sans such past sins, son Rahul can now start running his family business of running the nation on a clean slate. Elsewhere in the Congress, ND Tiwari’s fall is another sham: That the man who at 86 was healthy enough to romp around with a number of nubile nymphets right inside Raj Bhavan should resign his governorship on health grounds is a joke. Bed-ridden, yes, but not certainly ailing. So trust this Tiwari, with his redoubtable reputation for being a ladies man, besides being a popular defendent in paternity suits, to stage a comeback in some other bedroom in some other Raj Bhavan, of course, in eminently cheerful company.

From being the last resort of scoundrels, politics is today the first shelter for the unscrupulous and an unfailing source of salvation. A small time TV actress of TN who was arrested for running a brothel racket had recently entered politics saying that only a political party can give her full protection! For doing what? Sanjay Dutt’s political forays may have faltered this year, but the ex-TADA detenue seems convinced that a political cloak offers the best cover from prying hands of the law. Or take Azharuddin, a ‘09 success star. His stylish on-field cricketing career ended in the slushy off-field match-fixing scandal. And just when we thought his future has been fixed for good by fate, came a political resurrection, courtesy Cong, as a minority icon. Now you can bet on him to be a permanent fixture in the political playfield.

But match-fixings are kid stuff. The name of the game in TN is poll-fixing. And this is no gentleman’s game either. Aah, from Azhar we have now arrived at Azhagiri turf. This rising son, who was irked to murderous rage at coming last in opinion polls, however is an undisputed first when it comes to ‘buy’-polls. So when he announced on the eve of the recent Assembly snap-polls that his party would win by around 40,000 votes, he had his reasons. The one who fixeth, knoweth and therefore, sayeth! And lo, the margins were indeed as he ‘predicted’, give or take a few thousand rupees, pardon, votes! This electoral ‘business model’ is now a subject of intense study and an example for emulation for all the democratic farces that dot the political landscape. TN-2009 was littered with several such Son-strokes! Tail piece: All the accused in the Madurai Murders of May ‘07 were acquitted this year and the State is unlikely to appeal. Those who perished at the newspaper office apparently committed suicide!

Tele Minister A Raja’s would rank as another survival-to-success story par excellence. The man, by all accounts, including even unaccounted accounts, caused the biggest crater ever in the public treasury. The unprecedented spectrum scam befitted an equally unprecedented intense scrutiny, inquiry and prosecution. At the least, everyone thought Raja would be denied a berth in the cabinet; but MSingh vested him with the same ministry that he blew a big hole in. And it was not just those missing millions that missed his head by miles. The missed call matter too flew over his crown and Raja remains unscathed as a king of good times. This ‘09 hero is indeed untouchable, meaning none can even touch him, for, so close is he to his leader’s heart … and home! Another DMK minister, running a flourishing education business, had his staff caught taking capitation fee on candid camera. The minister continues to prosper, in more ways than one! Indeed, the only running theme of ‘09 is that the winning politico always takes it all!

2009 also offers lessons for losers like Jaya, Babu Naidu, BJP, Left, PMK etc. They have only been outplayed in a game that they themselves played badly. But they are not certainly ignorant of the ways and means, nor lacking in will. After all, as part of the same tribe with identical instincts for survival and itch for success, they stand a good chance of making 2010 theirs. Of course, the rest of us stand no chance in this loaded set up!

Still, Happy new year!

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Jawahar T R