Small note on a big problem

I was checking the news just now, and noticed that Parliament is in ferment over Narendra Modi’s December 10 speech in Palanpur, wherein he accused his predecessor Manmohan Singh of colluding with Pakistan to impact the outcome of the Gujarat elections.

It was a particularly low point in an election cycle that was one depressing low after another. Even for Modi, a terminal liar who in pursuit of his ends will slander anyone and devalue any institution, this attack on Singh was unconscionable. (There is also the sheer illogic of it — if, in fact, the Prime Minister of this country believes that senior politicians were colluding with an enemy nation to thwart the democratic process in India, he should have ordered an inquiry into it and, if proof were found, meted out exemplary punishment. To not do so is at the very least a dereliction of duty.)

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Apres Gujarat

A small news item from the day before yesterday — the day before the counting of votes in Gujarat and Himachal, the day before Parliament belatedly went into its much-delayed winter session — deserves your attention. The Prime Minister, it said, was in Mizoram to kick off the election campaign in that state. Today, he is in Karnataka and then on to Kerala and Tamil Nadu to “extensively review” the damage caused by Cyclone Ockhi, never mind that the storm hit the Indian coast over two weeks ago. (Nothing — not Parliament, not the responsibilities of government, not even natural disasters — ever come between Modi and an election campaign.)

A constant trope during the Gujarat election cycle is the political rejuvenation of Rahul Gandhi. The celebration of his political comeback was at times almost Shakespearian, echoing the transformation of ‘Prince Hal’, the intimate of Falstaff and his set of scoundrels, into the King Henry V who would lead England to glory at Agincourt when the time was right. Remember?:

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