Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Oh the drama!

My, my ! If this were a movie, I am sure it would be a great hit. I agree with Byron that Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

The drama started with the NDA surprised at the polls by the UPI (something that's supposed to be progressive). Even though senior leaders of the BJP were graceful in accepting defeat, the middle rank leaders raked up a lot of muck about Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin. Now, the BJP very well knew that Sonia Gandhi would become the PM if the Congress won. Their shrill propaganda on this issue proved to be distasteful to the voter. Narendra Modi was the worst of the lot. Anyway, after all this happened, Sonia was chosen as the consensus candidate of the Useless Parties of India coalition. Then Sushma Swaraj, for whom I have had great respect, started going bonkers. She vowed to tonsure her head and live as a recluse or like a widow even when her husband was alive, if Sonia became the PM. Govindacharya, (I don't know much about him) also threatened to boycott Sonia's PM-ship. One person even committed suicide and several others threatened to do so.

My question is : Was it OK when Sonia was the leader of the opposition ? Why the sudden display of patriotism and nationalistic fervour now ? I had always respected the BJP for being a party of ideals, but now it appears to be on the same level as the Congress party.

With the Left parties supporting SG, some of them got a bit adventurous and ventured really stupid statements about divestment that sent all the wrong signals to the investment community. The investors are to blame too. Their irrational clinging to one government without even bothering to listen to the policies of the new government causes one to rethink India in the new mould of economic giant. When the Sensex lost around 500 points on Monday the 17th, it reflected the selfish foreign investors too. But that's how the world is now.

In the middle of all this, SG met the president APJ A. Kalam. Something happened there and SG suddenly refused the post of the PM. A whole new act in this whole drama began! While the reasons for her withdrawing her nomination are unknown, it was widely speculated by the media that the President had something to do with it. The Rashtrapati Bhavan later clarified that it had nothing to do with this. But it was high-voltage drama!

Sonia wearing the garb of the victimized woman and the family woman, scored a lot of points with Indians everywhere, citing personal reasons and the inner voice as having changed her mind about ascending to the top post in India. I am a bit cynical; I saw this as yet another play. But only time will tell what transpired in SG's mind. Or not! The suicide threats came from the Congressmen this time.

The Indian English media in India have a general editorial left slant. This was well seen in their editorials praising SG's selfless sacrifice and even elevating SG to the ranks of Gandhi and the Buddha. While the reasons for her withdrawal are unknown, her sacrfice doesn't seem to be selfless. She probably foresaw the endless lawsuits against her - courtesy Subramanian Swamy, the eternal dissident and a bunch of other people. The reason that Sonia's children feared for Sonia's life doesn't cut it with me. When they were not afraid when SG was campaigning, why would they be afraid when their mother would be the most protected individual in India ?

This decision magically seemed to change the stock market's fortunes.But so much volatility about nothing ? The faith in the Indian Economy seems to be lacking in these investors.

The situation seems to have stabilized now with Manmohan Singh being named to the post of the PM. The stock market at least seems to like it. MS is known to be clean guy with a good head on his shoulders. His political skills are questionable; but he will probably have protection from SG; just as he was protected by Narasimha Rao in his cabinet.

But it is not over till it is over. We have to wait and see if MS will actually be sworn in as PM, or if something else happens in the meantime.

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