Sunday, July 20, 2008

Isn't he smart?

With only a couple of days to go for the trust vote, the UPA managed to increase its tally by one more as the entire political fraternity is keeping its fingers crossed as to the eventual outcome.An interesting aside to the larger picture has emerged.
A couple of weeks ago, TR Baalu, in a television interview had said that he believed that Dayanidhi Maran would obey the whip issued by the DMK over the Nuclear Deal issue. All this while, it appeared as though there was something fishy going on and rumour mongers had a filed day speculating a split in the DMK.
Barely 48 hours before the all important day, Dayanidhi Maran has emerged stronger than ever. As usual, Sunday afternoon 2:30 means movie on Sun TV and this Sunday was no exception. As the credits rolled out and as I was waiting with bated breath for the "hero introduction", the screen went blank and when normalcy was regained, live pictures of a press conference addressed by Maran was being telecast. In a prepared statement read out to the press, he said that despite the shabby treatment meted out to him for the past 15 months, he has decided to obey the party high command and decided to vote with the UPA government in accordance to the whip issued by his party, the DMK.
The way in which his sentences were constructed spelt maturity and he did not lose a single opportunity to create sympathy in the minds of the people as he kept harping on "the shabby treatment", "that he is Murasoli Maran's son and hence an upbringing of political dignity", "that he is a follower of Arignar Anna's kadamai, ganniyam and kattupaadu"-would have made his grand father proud. This was followed by a brief question answer session. He answered questions ranging from "Azhagiri's role in the spilt" to "will you float your own party".
A likely sub theme of the press conference was about how he still couldn't fathom the real reason behind asking for his resignation, how committed he has been to the DMK throughout his life and how 'certain people' would not allow for a reconciliation to happen. He was not so subtle in conveying his views regarding his loyalty to the DMK. He said, in an apparent reference to Azhagiri, that he did not indulge in any kind of anti-party activities and did not plot to defeat a party candidate who happened to be a former speaker. The climax of his statement was his expression of thanks to leaders who had contacted him personally to seek his support. He thanked Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prnab Mukherjee, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Kamal Nath, Jairam Ramesh, Narayanasamy, Thangabaalu, Ahmed Patel, GK Vasan and when he had finished, a reporter asked if he was done or if he had left out anyone else. He replied by saying that if he had not mentioned the name of the leader he had in mind, it meant that the concerned leader had not contacted him-frankly, there couldn't have been a better climax and interestingly not a single DMK leader figured in that long list of names.
He appeared to be very sure of himself and seemed to know the names of the reporters by heart, which I believe is a huge positive attribute to any political leader. He was very composed during the press conference and patiently answered the questions , managing to intersperse them with a dash of humor as well.
To say that Sun TV also played a part in popularizing the party and spreading its ideology would be no exaggerating. The entire of schedule of the program meant that a lot of thought had gone into it. It started just after half past two, perhaps when most people are tuned in and ended just before it seemed to drag. The fact that it was telecast live on Sun TV would probably ensure that it reached a lot of living rooms immediately. Hard core supporters of the DMK and his political opponents alike, would agree upon the fact that Maran has played out his part beautifully, so much so that a neutral person would be forced to think that he has been wronged by his party. The press conference was yet another instance, and would have probably taken his detractors both within and outside his party by a huge surprise. The maturity with which he has tackled the entire issue has surprised me and I have a very strong hunch that he would have a more proactive role in the future-whether as a part of the same party or not, only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A win-win situation

How often in history has Indian polity seen a Prime Minister who stands firm, not wilting under the pressure of his coalition partners? In an era where no single party enjoys brute force majority, like the days of Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi, decisions taken by the Government are bound to be influenced by the coalition partners and other parties supporting it. Perhaps, lesser mortals would have danced to the tunes of the coalition partners and then dismissed the gimmick off as a compulsion of 'coalition politics'. While Dr. Manmohan Singh's decison to go ahead with the Nuclear deal, in spite of widespread criticism, may be debatable, his resolve to stick to his stand is indeed positive and appreciable. With widespread accusations of the Government withholding some sensitive information regarding the deal, discussing the pros and cons of the deal here would only be a futile exercise.
His detractors, who have often ridiculed him for being a 'puppet PM' have been made to eat their words after this episode. The backing he has received from his party is truly commendable and this goes to show the respect (may not necessarily be popularity) he enjoys amongst the men who matter in his party. While most critics prognosticated a premature death for the Nuke deal or the Government, it has taken a lot of guts and mental toughness for the Government to go ahead to the IAEA, especially given the fact that the survival of the Government hinges largely on the support from the Left. Now, it seems that the elections would be held as per the schedule and to bring it to this, from a seemingly hopeless situation must have taken a lot of back office strategics. On the other hand, Prakash Karat, the new and young face of the Left front, would be proud of the fact that he has done all he could in his capacity, to forewarn and try prevent the Government from falling prey to America's designs. As soon as he realized that the Government was not too keen to budge, he rallied the entire Left front behind him and ensured they withdrew support immediately. This is a far cry from the 'empty threats only' image the Left enjoys, at least in some sections of the media. Ironically, he also does not enjoy a 'shrewd politician' image just like Dr. Singh. Interestingly, their predecessors, Harkishen Singh Surjeet and PV Narasimha Rao were known to be astute politicians who 'took' everybody possible along.
The coming weeks would be filled with intense political activity-hectic parleys among similar minded parties and possibly some 'horse trading' as well. The trust vote would be defining moment for both sides, especially with the victory margin certain to be in single digits and this single factor could propel 'trading' to astronomical amounts.
Pushing the 'darker' side of the arithmetic to the background, the victory, irrespective of the winner, would be remembered as the triumph of a man who stood by his principles.