Eight-and-a-half lessons from trust vote tamasha

1) Before the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement (not “deal”, as Pranab Mukherjee pointed out) lights up a single 60-watt bulb, it has caused a tectonic change in our politics. There is rancour, there is mistrust, there is suspicion. As the sociologist Dipankar Gupta writes, there has been “a wholesale structural adjustment of our polity.” And the ‘laxman rekha’ of political morality hasn’t been crossed; it has been wiped out.

2) There is nothing very national about “The National Interest”. There aren’t enough Hindutwits or Commutwits (to use Ashok Desai’s delightful portmanteau) who have bought into it yet. And the 275-256 margin suggests that neither will become its sole proprietor any time soon. It requires some really dodgy characters and even more dodgy tactics to keep the flame burning. It’s not a pretty sight but what is after 22 July 2008?

3) The Congress is “tainted” in victory, of course, but make no mistake, so is the BJP in defeat and the Left in defeat. ‘Hamaam mein sab tainted hain.’ Only the naive will believe this hadn’t happened before because the TV cameras weren’t around. The 19-vote margin may make it a “numerical victory” or a “pyrrhic victory” for the opposition, but even a one-vote defeat for the government would have had them proclaiming a total rejection.

4) Of course, Manmohan Singh doesn’t come out smelling of roses, but the next time some lawyer in spokesman’s clothes, whether of the Congress or the BJP, clears his throat in the comforts of an air-conditioned television studio and exudes fragrantly about the media sowing cynicism about politics and politicians, tell him or her to take a long, lonely walk in Effingham.

5) It is impossible to compute human daftness, of course, but it requires mind-numbing daftness, or arrogance in equivalent measure, in the post-Bangaru Laxman era for a politician/fixer to be giving or taking money when the OB vans are parked around the corner of their drawing rooms flashing the latest rates as classified by A.B. Bardhan and Munawar Hasan.

6) The fear of losing the nearest election is the only thing that motivates our netas. There is no higher, no greater, no nobler objective. And that applies to the Left to the Right and every shade of centre. Which is why so little of the two-day debate was about the intricacies of the agreement, and so much of it was about making the most out of now.

7) If this is how our distinguished parliamentarians behave when they know that the whole country is watching them, when such an important issue is up before them, how must they be behaving when they know we are probably gawking at Sai Baba opening his left eye on India TV, or Amitabh Bachchan catching a cold on Aaj Tak?

8) Rahul Gandhi may be the best thing since sliced bread for Congressmen looking for their rozi-roti, but he is no Obama. Heck, he is not even Omar or Owaisi. Talking extempore may make for better viewing than reading from a prepared text as he did the last time round, but Rahul baba‘s public speaking skills suggest that he has a long way to go before he even utters “hame yeh banana hain” like papa Rajiv.

And this half-point:

We are a nation that seems to be living reality as lived on the ‘Truman Show’. If it is not IPL, it is Aarushi. If it is not Aarushi, it is the no-trust vote. If it’s not the trust-vote it is the cash for votes. We want our reality to be played out real time in front of our eyes and we want it now.

So, what do we do from today?

This piece also appears on rediff.com