2010: Guesses & misses

‘Nothing changes, come what may’: This is not just a philosophical outpouring of frustration, but hard reality too. The world may be in a seeming state of flux, but scratch the surface, and we realise that the so-called changes are cosmetic and not core. As night follows day, it is deja vu all the time, with the ‘been there, seen there, done that’ syndrome dogging us perennially. So what does 2010 have in store? Now, do we have to live through this year too to know how it unfolds? The templates of the past years seem adequate to make reasonable guesses. Choose your vantage point in time: you can look ahead from Jan 2010 or leap to year 2011 and look back. But here is a preview/review of the year that will be/that was, from whatever angle you look at. OK, choose your tense too accordingly. Of course, the basic assumption is: ‘Nothing really changes’!

Politics, the art of the possible, also qualifies as the first candidate for the art of prediction. Because it is so predictable. Despite national elections, there was no change last year in the central political matrix. So with no polls in the works in 2010, a change is not even a theoretical possibility. Meaning, the puppet show at PMO, with the shady super PM pulling the strings from the shadows, will go on, unhindered and uninhibited. Rather, the ‘clean’ man who needs to feel inhibited for being a shameful proxy actually looks profoundly proud. Stability surely comes at a steep price: Rs 64 crores, at the minimum, at 1985 prices, not adjusted for 25 years’ inflation.

For BJP, 2010 is momentous. As the old order, aged 80-plus, changeth, the new ones will continue the confusion and disorder. The stage and script are the same, though the starcast has changed. And that too is only an assumption, given the grip of the geriatric gang on the party. If Advani can survive the Jinnah-jinx and come back as PM-to-be, 2010 may well see him in action again. On the political front, Lord Rama and his Sethu will keep making cameo appearances on the party radar on a need basis. The prince of Ayodhya is expendable and can be enlisted or exiled at will. And if indeed, the BJP were to bounce back on other issues like price rise or national security, trust Liberhan with the Babri baggage in tow too to make a comeback. The communal-secular backdrop looks a permanent default setting in Bharat’s politics.

It is business as usual vis-a-vis other parties. The Left will remain left-outs while Maya continues to thrive in cut-outs. And as I write comes the earth-shattering news: SP’s Amar Singh has resigned from all party posts! Like a smoker who quits smoking till he lights up again, expect A Singh to quit every three months this year. Now, regards the rest I have lost track of who is in and who’s out of UPA. Not that it makes a difference to our next meal, but here’s the guess: Whoever is in, will be in and whoever is out will stay out. Now, that’s what I call smart guessing. But ‘09’s parting kick deserves mention. Shibu Soren as Jharkhand CM again would rank as the most devastating deja vu. In an impoverished State where thousands of crores however float around as loose change, change is really a mirage.

But that’s no surprise or shock to those of us in TN. We have seen sharks who have survived Sarkarias and sundry other commissions and stayed put. Sample the State’s tryst with ‘change’ over the last forty years: 1969, Kalaignar becomes CM post-Anna’s demise. End-1979 saw Kalaignar as an eager candidate for CM-ship in alliance with Cong, though the bid was short circuited. As 1989 dawned, K was at the helm, his ‘40-year friend’ MGR having left earth for good. Come 1999, it is K’s reign again. And 2009 too saw him amble past, in and out of Ft St George. Now let’s not make a projection for 2019 and lose our peace today. But 2010 surely looks his and his clan’s year again with their Gross ‘Domestic’ Product touching new highs, not to speak of awards by the dozens. The common consensus is that, as more MLAs croak or defect this year, the ensuing by-polls will only add to the DMK kitty in the Assembly. And with full polls here due next year, one suspects the only ‘stiff’ opposition would come from either Moovender Munnetra Kazhagam or its splinter or some faction of TN Forward Bloc, all other parties having burned out or been bought out! And that would be because those two party offices could not be traced!

That brings us to the opposition. In 2010 too, AIADMK will continue to be run from the cool climes of Kodanadu. But with demos by disgruntled partymen outside its chief’s Poes Garden residence rising, that is not a bad idea after all. A separate State comprising those estates in the hills is also a good bet … for J. As for Vaiko, his fortunes for the year are as bright as the fact that Prabakaran is alive. But when it comes to the mango party PMK and its maverick supremo Dr Ramadoss, any guess is a hazard, bound to miss. Even the Dr does not know if he will take the left or right turn on Dr Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai, till he reaches the cross-roads. V’Kanth’s DMDK show will maintain its moderate run as a box-office bluster. The various factions of TNCC will keep ushering in and ushering out Kamaraj rule from their minds depending on the ruling K’s moods. Kamraraj rule for them is what Ramrajya is to the BJP: Negotiable at the alliance altar.

The economic outlook for 2010 is very promising: We will all get used to the recession. The FM will still ‘declare’ 9% growth even if over 90% of us are reeling under run-away inflation and crippling liquidity crunch. Things are looking up on the terror front too. As threat perceptions at the global level are at an all-time high, India retains its premier position as the prime sitting duck. Though I would pray for misses, I wouldn’t place my guesses there. But whether bombs come or not, expect new year greetings for the next year and the next few too from Afzal Guru and Kasaab. They may still rue the Paradise Lost, but it sure as hell is a safe haven for them out here.

2010 will be fun galore on the films front: more movies will get released in home theatres as the leak year progresses. But my guess is the illegal DVD/Download problem will get solved automatically as more and more of pet nephews and grandsons get into film production. The choice for kollywood is really between piracy and hijack. As election time draws close, Rajini will be sought out for his plans that even the Almighty is kept guessing and keeps missing!

Aah, the year has indeed flown with a slew of momentous changes resulting in status quo. Now let us go through with the motions. By the way, happy 2011!

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Jawahar T R