Cast of Characters for the Farce That Is Currently Going On:
1. Baba Ramdev: Babas are great. Baba Sehgal. Baba Zarda. And of course billionaire monk, one man brand, the ever reticent Baba Ramdev. How can one not consider with utmost seriousness a sage who can cure homosexuality, flatulence, cancer and AIDS, through the simple device of strategically rhythmic inhaling and exhaling? How can one not be in awe of his mature Alice in Wonderland Red Queen’s “Off with their heads” solution to the country’s endemic problems (He advocates death penalty to the corrupt)? How can one not be blown away by the sagacity of his solutions—like how he advocates doing away with Income Tax and replacing it with a mere 1-2% transaction tax (yes that’s what he says—take that Tea Party, take that Fair Tax and take that Michele Bachman )? How can one not admire how he has used his Yoga platform to leapfrog onto the political stage? How can one not appreciate his steadfast resolve to bring back all the black money, stowed in cash havens abroad. It’s a simple thing really, just make all the banks in Switzerland, Lichenstein and Monaco watch Aastha channel and they will hand over their lists while doing anulom and veelom. I mean the Americans and Germans can get the banks to bend to their will…why cannot India, an equally powerful nation in the firmament of nations.
What I love most about Baba is his simplicity. Simple saffron vastram. Simple chartered plane. Simple solutions. Breathe in. Kill the corrupt. Bring their wealth back. Abolish income tax. Gays are sick people. Breathe out. Repeat five times. And then the other nostril.
2. Anna Hazare: If Baba is the IPL of fasting, Anna is the ICL. Anna it was who re-invented “I wont eat till you listen to me” technique in the 24/7 media age, bringing to prominence once again the favorite blackmail method of choice of wives and Gandhians through the ages. But then he expressed his admiration for Modi and then hurriedly retracted his statement, in the process pushing away both the Left as well as the Right. Not a good plan if you want to be the messiah of the middle-class. Baba though played his cards well aligning himself solidly with the Right (the color of his cloak helped) and is now faster than Anna, who has been reduced to bowling slow leg-cutters (me-too fasts), like Venkatesh Prasad, to keep his relevance in the fast-changing fast scenario.
3. Civil society: Did you get a Magsaysay Award? Can you stand on your head? Do you think that the people are wrong and YOU are right? Well then you are a member of “civil society”. Confused? Well I am just getting started. Right now in India there are two civil societies—-one fighting the government (the Hazares, the Babas, the Bedis and the Saffron Maoist Swami) and the other, the Salwa Judum of civil societies, pushing forward the Congress’s minority-vote grubbing agenda. Yes I am talking about the National Advisory Council, a super-government Illuminati-type organization, free of constitutional oversight and blessed by Sonia Gandhi, that is in charge of drafting laws that will help the Congress win elections. Manned, womanned and conmanned by Congress stool-pigeons it uses blatantly biased, divisive figures like Ram Puniyani (who opposes the hanging of Afzal Guru), Teesta Setalvad (no introduction needed), John Dayal (rabidly anti-Hindu columnist at Dalitstan) and Shabnam Hashmi (hoo boy I once heard her speak in Stonybrook and she was as balanced as Keshto Mukherjee after a visit to the darookhana) to draft “laws” on communal violence, leading to things like the execrable Communal Violence Bill which, by creating an asymmetric system of justice, criminalizes belonging to the majority to an extent that is quite unprecedented even in India.
4. Digvijay Singh: Imagine for a second, Obama’s chief adviser and spokesman-in-chief being chief guest at a release event of a book whose premise is that the Tea Party orchestrated 9/11. Imagine the same man referring to Osama as Osama-sir. Imagine again, if you please, the same man being caught on tape stomping on the head of an unarmed protester. Now ask yourself this question. Would Obama have this man as his advisor and if he did would he win a primary among the most Democratic of Democratic Party voters?
Now replace Obama with Sonia Gandhi. Replace Tea Party with RSS, Ji with Sir and you have Digvijay Singh, the man who speaks to dead people. And you know what the biggest shame in all this is? Not Diggy-baby—-he at least provides some cheap entertainment Navjyot Sidhu style. The real shame are the people who vote to power the people who keep this man as their spokesman. Yes. I mean people like us.
5. UPA government: I am drunk at a bar. Two men come, offering me a ride home. One has a patch across his eye, a hypodermic syringe in hand, a bucket with ice-cubes in which float a few throbbing kidneys. The other is a member of the UPA government. I would take my chances with the more trustworthy of the two— the organ trafficker. That the UPA government would steal even the gold fillings from a dead man is something we knew for long—rarely in independent India has there been a ruling entity this blatantly and proudly corrupt. What we now see, more and more, are disturbing authoritarian tendencies like their Internet Control Rules which would bring down the law for something as mild as using a “disparaging” remark against someone on the government’s Must-Not-Be-Scoffed-List, a list that starts with the letter G. What we saw with respect to their handling of the Baba Ramdev situation was a deadly concoction of arrogance, stupidity and pure Keystone Copsian bungling. First the government rushes in to placate the Baba and then in a scene straight out of Rang De Basanti sends in the might of the state on a peaceful assemblage, in the process putting a halo of victimhood on the Baba, which unless they did it to force Anna out of the public eye, made absolutely no sense.
6. BJP: You wonder why the UPA government has persisted for two terms. You wonder why the substantial Right wing, most of them on the Net, have adopted the Baba as the great saffron hope. Take a look at the BJP and understand why. If there was not drama enough, we were witness to the spectacle of Sushma Swaraj of the Beeboing Jive Party break into lyrical hip-hop, adding the appropriate level of gravitas to India’s Tahrir Square (now virtually any protest is a Tahrir Square).
6. Manmohan Singh: Stage prop. Sock puppet. Take your pick.
7. Sonia Gandhi: The prompter. The ventriloquist. Take your pick.
8. Rahul Gandhi: Absent. Unless it is a stage-managed Congress event with a sure outcome of success or a dinner soiree with an American diplomat where he will try his best to convince the Americans that Hindus terrorists are a greater threat to the world than Islamic, the Prince is never to be seen. Not to worry of course. The people of this country will still elect him the Prime Minister once his time comes.
And the farce will only get more farcical.