More the merrier!

For a columnist committed to comment but often constipated by lack of choice of topics, this week is a bonanza of sorts. But such an eventful week also poses the problem of surfeit. A fair distribution of words is therefore called for. So here we go on a verbal tour across nation and news.

Bihar’s vanvas is history:

Just over five years ago it was condemned as a State where Jungle Raj prevailed. Indeed, Bihar was synonymous with all that could go wrong, the worst among the worse. In Dec,‘05 Nitish inherited a lawless land that even God had seemingly forsaken. The exit of the cowboy and his clan that milked Bihar dry was the only good news, while the future remained bleak. But their complete extinction now in 2010 is just a footnote in a larger success story; Lalu Devi and Rabri Prasad or whatever and the Paswans, not to speak of Rahul’s Cong, have been ground to dust under the fast moving wheels of progress, growth and clean governance unleashed by one man. In a country wherein politics is still haunted by caste, corruption and criminality, Nitish’s decimation of these fatal forces holds up a ray of hope. And a pang of yearning too rises: Will TN throw up a messiah or become the mess that Bihar once was, if not already? At present, the tunnel here looks dark and deep, infested by familiar rats, their families or friends!

Tale of two CMs:

Only last week everyone was absolutely certain he was finished. But he survived. And no one would have guessed last week that he will cease to be in power. But he no longer is. Two southern CMs hailing from the two extremes of the political spectrum proved that politics, the art of the impossible, can put to nought the predictions of any pundit. For Yeddyurappa of Karnataka, jumping from one precipice to another has become some sort of a political pastime. Ever since he ascended the gaddi as the first BJP CM below the Vindhyas, much of his efforts have gone in governing his own back rather than the State. And whatever spare time, it now appears, was spent on fixing land deals for self and Co. But his shady shenanigans caused a greater loss to his party and the nation; just when the BJP was expected to seize the moral high ground, which is not that very high these days, over the spate of scams and corner the UPA Government and Cong into taking concrete action against the scamsters, Yeddy became the proverbial snake for his party to slip and slide down from the pedestal. Sariana idaiyurappa!

The impotence of the BJP’s top brass is in sharp contrast to the Cong high command’s typical brazen behaviour. Corruption may be a common denominator for both the national parties, but the Cong is a pioneer and a far better practitioner of the art of sleaze. But despite the party wallowing in muck from head to toe, it has the gumption to shed its extra baggage that had become too dirty for comfort. Tharoor, Chavan and Kalmady were cleaned out in godspeed. But AP was different. Though it was never a bed of roses for Rosiah, no significant corruption charges were laid at his doorstep. Nor was he disobedient. Yet if the old man could be retired in a jiffy for no apparent reason, it demonstrates the disdain the grand old party has for constitutional posts and political niceties. Indeed, Congress PMs and CMs hold office at the pleasure of the President, the Congress President, that is!

No news is the news:

All the furore of last week looks futile as it is all quiet on the 2G front now. With the SC slackening its shackles on the PM, the Government appears to be breathing easier. That Parli remains stranded is of no consequence; the nation is better served only if the LS (and RS) are not functioning! But law and justice are not taking their course outside those circular walls either. Just when the nation was hoping, rather fondly, for some follow up action, given the hue and cry, the CBI wants more time to come up with a report! This when evidence is littered all around for the picking! Repeated strictures by the SC have drawn a blank from the investigating agency, giving us a sinister sense of deja vu reminiscent of Bofors- fame, Q and the many others who had slipped through the porous laws. With the CBI in forgive and forget mode, Kalmadi is already globe trotting with nary a blot on his conscience or coat. Raja’s white attire will likely remain as spotless. The disappearance of Rs 1.76 lakh crores (not Rs176 lakh crores as was ‘wrongly’ mentioned in these columns last week) has not warranted a single enquiry or a single raid of the prime suspect. 2G probably means Doubly Guaranteed against criminal action. Well, it looks the only way to stop tax-payer’s money from being stolen by scamsters is for tax-payers to stop paying taxes!

Can’t bank on them:

The scam industry, however, continued its bull run unabated. Top officials of LIC and some nationalised banks were arrested this week for taking bribes to sanction loans to companies. Needless to add, the toll of such loans runs into several hundred crores with matching ‘tariff’. While this is pittance by current standards and does not even merit ‘breaking news’ for more than a few seconds, it is certainly salt on the wound for those reeling under the tyranny of the banking system. An individual or small business will have to suffer the snail pace and an open-ended time frame for sanction of his loans while here we have big fish walking away with big purses overnight, circumventing that very system, after paying ‘due respects’ to the sanctioning officers, of course. This loaded regime hounds and haunts the former even while honouring every need of the latter. And even in default, while the corporates get way after creating craters, a small timer, foolish enough to pledge his meagre assets, gets stripped to the bones! By the way, will bank staff go on a strike to protest this scam?

And then:

India-Kiwi cricket was a sidelight given the frenzied political games. Any way, a series in which Harbajan emerged as a premier batting hero speaks volumes of the quality of the contest. On the flip side, here was one sardar who was at least doing something, compared to …well, forget it.

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Jawahar T R