Life of Poi

The sum and substance of their stuff is bluff. Of course, that is the stock-in-trade of the entire political tribe, but Mulayam and Maya are stand out ‘stall’-warts, specialising in this sacred (p)art of politics. That their political lives are littered with lies is no secret, but what makes them superior peddlers of spurious talk is the careless candour and absolute abandon with which they parade their falsehood in public. When M&M brag with clinching conviction on an issue, expect them to do just the opposite in a jiffy, uncommitted to their own utterings!

And so it was just deja vu in Parli on the FDI debate. After the familiar tough talk outside and inside the madding House, the UP foes found common cause by walking out hand in hand and, no doubt, hand in glove with the Cong, their perennial benefactor and beneficiary. Of course, the nation knew it all because it has seen it all many times over. Small wonder the so-called nail-biting numerical finish was as tiring and true to the theme as the arrival of the cops in the climax of movies.

That they consistently get away with their deceptions and duplicity reflects badly on the rules governing Parli procedures. Abstinence from voting frustrates the very purpose of Parli. More so when the MPs walk out on some flimsy excuse after participating in the debate in full steam. Parli is not meant to be a talk club but an instrument of action. Parliamentarians and parties that support or oppose a motion should do so in vote too. The law talks of ‘members present and voting’, not ‘members present, less later absent, and voting’. The Constitutional intent and assumption is that the members present will also vote. An MP can have a thousand debates within his party and his own self, but there can only be one decision, aye or nay, even if such an exercise of the brain is a tall order for many reps. Also, that’s the basis on which he/she got a mandate from the constituency. Scooting instead from the scene is a gross violation of Constitutional and public duty. Governance and law-making must happen through positive participation, not by default or in absentia.

But what can we say when Parli has become a place where common sense and national interest abstain permanently with lungpower, dramatic protests and then shady deal-making always in absolute majority?
Rumour is the closest cousin of lies. Of course, rumour has the theoretical potential of turning true, thus deserting the cousin, but that rarely happens. Also, rumour has a better flavour and certainly more colour than a mere white lie. And while being lied to lays you low with a sense of betrayal, a consumer of rumour actually feels elevated. In fact, rumours spread faster than lies precisely because they are propelled by a me-first pride that lies cannot provide.

Among rumours, the ones about the death of public persons win hands down, be it in speed or popular appeal. Such rumours have yielded both comic capers and chaos. There is this famous quote of Mark Twain, since dead, on a ‘fatal’ rumour about him: ‘reports about my death are greatly exaggerated’. Another writer demanded a refund of his ‘unexpired’ subscription from a newspaper that had rather prematurely published his obituary. World over and in India and TN rumours of leaders kicking the bucket have always been rife, even when they were alive, if not necessarily kicking. Hitler, Castro, Charles de Gaulle, Netaji, JP, VPSingh, Anna, MGR, Maran etc all died a thousand deaths before they eventually died without notice. I distinctly remember the deaths of Sanjay Gandhi and VVGiri & son in quick succession setting off serial rumours in which many VIPs across all walks of life ‘perished’ over phone calls and personal gossip. Those deemed dead, but actually alive, were not exactly humoured by the rumours.

Those who think rationalism and rumour – pagutharivu and purali – do not gel, there is our Kalaingar K to give the lie. Even without this week’s rumour, he topped the charts as the most rumoured whatever-it-is, beating deadlines with remarkable staying power. Now, let’s not lend credence to some rational rumours that such deadly rumours actually enhance lifespan. The point is, K came out in person in the pink of health to put an end to yet another such ‘grave’ threat. The roots of the recent rumour that rocked the State, however, remains a rational riddle. Now, don’t guess, please!

Long live lies!!

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Jawahar T R