E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I met the Ace Political Expert (APE) at Cheluvamba Park doing his yogic walk. After a couple of rounds, he sat on the stone beach.
He beckoned me to sit and I asked him the question that was bothering me since the prime minister’s national press conference last week: “Who exactly is running our country?”
After taking a long breath, APE said: “There is a coalition government but there is collision at each and every step.”
It was a bad pun, but I let it be.
“Could you be more specific? Is Manmohan Singh running the country?”
“It is illusory to feel Manmohan Singh is running the country. He is running away from running the country, by visiting various countries. In effect, he is on the run most of the times.”
“He is not going anywhere. He himself said so during his press conference,” I interrupted.
“He meant Rahul Gandhi may have to wait a little longer to take his place as per the norms of the feudal democractic republic of India.”
“If Manmohan is not running the country, what about Sonia?”
“Well, Sonia is running the country and she is not! Let me explain. She wants the home minister to have a dialogue with Maoists. But Chidambaram is confused whether he should start a dialogue or act like Vedanta’s lawyer and box the Maoists for the bauxite. So he is doing nothing. Worse, he is doing a daily Q&A session with Barkha Dutt on 26 /11 forgetting there is an external affairs minister to do that job in S.M. Krishna.”
“This is all so confusing.”
“S.M. Krishna was busy monitoring and mentoring Shashi Tharoor who is anyway beyond mentoring and monitoring. That’s how he landed in a sweaty soup during IPL.”
APE continued: “Sonia wants the prices of tur dal and loki to be controlled but Sharad Pawar has apparently better things to do. He is busy getting new suits stitched for the post of ICC chief. So Sonia is not running the country either.”
“Sometimes it looks it is the opposition that is running the country.”
“That’s how it seemed to me too looking at the way Arun Jaitley supported the government to take tough action against Naxals and Maoists. I thought he was guiding Chidambaram. But Digvijay Singh’s bashing up of Chidambaram indicates neither UPA nor Congress is running the country. The much tom-tomed opposition unity on cut-motion fell flat on its face. So the opposition are not running the country either.”
I was getting desperate.
“The electronic media is all the time hysterical with their ‘Breaking News’ song-and-dance act. Are they running the country?”
“Sometimes I feel the troika of Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami are running the country. But their agenda is mostly restricted to the Ruchika case, Aarushi murder case, etc, followed by a lengthy acrimonious debate. If they don’t have any agenda, they bring in Lalit Modi’s IPL3 which always has something to offer—-cricket, Bollywood starlets, midnight parties, millions of dollars, match fixing , N. Srinivasan’s homa before the finals etc.”
“Could the armed forces be running the country,” I wonder.
“It looked like that when we won the Kargil war. But the fudging of records of Kargil war, painting heroes as villains and villains as heroes, and the periodic selling of our defense secrets like in the Navy warm room look belies such thoughts.”
“What about the ministers,” I asked.
“Mostly they are busy with their scams or tantrums. DMK’s A. Raja, the telecom minister is known more for his 2G scam. Instead of being a rail mantri, Mamata Banerjee is in Kolkata trying to overthrow the Leftists there, be it in the state, municipal, or panchayet elections, or even a local football match. I don’t think ministers are running the country either.”
I was getting exasperated.
“If Dr Singh is running away from the country’s problems, Sonia has no idea, ministers are not running the country, who is in charge or are we on auto-pilot?”
“ANC,” said APE.
“You mean African National Congress?”
“No. The ANC here is Anarchy, Nepotism and Corruption!” said the APE.
“Are they running the country?” I asked.
“They are ruining the country!” concluded the APE.