Independence Day Lies – and the Writing on the Wall

Over the years, the customary Independence Day address by the Prime Minister has been reduced to an empty ritual, shorn of any resonance with the reality of the country, let alone any resolve to mitigate the grim reality. This year, Manmohan Singh’s address sounded like a downright cruel joke with a country and people reeling under a deepening crisis. The PM predictably projected the nuke deal with the US as a great achievement of his government and as an unprecedented boon for India. But the ‘nuke deal’ PM also claimed ‘credit’ for providing a ‘new deal’ to India’s farmers. Only a few miles away from the heavily guarded ramparts of the Red Fort from where the PM was delivering his lecture, blood was yet to dry on the fields of Greater Noida where five farmers had to pay with their lives for protesting against real estate sharks who took away their land for a pittance.

Ever since it came to power riding on the ever upwardly climbing graph of farmers’ suicides, the UPA government has failed to bring any succour to the crisis-ridden peasantry. The debt burden has continued to mount, the crisis has continued to aggravate, and suicides have continued unabated. As for the Congress, it has only continued to pay lip-service to the sufferings of the ‘aam aadmi’. In the course of the trust vote debate, Rahul Gandhi devoted his entire speech to his ‘first-hand’ survey of the plight of the farmers in Vidarbha – the latest hot spot in his itinerary of political tourism – as though the nuke deal and strategic partnership with the US would resolve the agrarian crisis and magically metamorphose Vidarbha into California!

On August 15, Manmohan Singh also waxed eloquent on the perils of communalism, fundamentalism and every other variety of divisive politics. Even as he spoke, Jammu and Kashmir continued to bleed and burn. For nearly two decades, the state has been ceaselessly crying out for a democratic political solution to end the spiral of repression and killings. Back in power both in the state and at the Centre since the last elections, the Congress has however only managed to stoke the fire with its own agenda of divisive politics and unmitigated repression. It created the Amarnath land ‘dispute’ and handed over the agenda to the BJP and its cohorts much the same way as it had earlier acquiesced to the Sangh brigade on the Babri Masjid issue.

Worse still, when both Jammu and the valley erupted in anger, the state unleashed its brutal repressive might on the protesters in the valley while relatively speaking Jammu witnessed much less state violence. Coupled with the Amarnath land transfer dispute and the economic blockade enforced by Jammu-based organizations, this barbaric unleashing of state repression has once again pushed the valley to the brink of total alienation from the rest of the country. When tens of thousands of people defy the might of the Indian state to march to the UN office in Srinagar, the pain and anguish and alienation being suffered by the people in Kashmir becomes absolutely palpable.

During the trust vote debate, the Congress paraded the support it got from the National Conference and the PDP, the two parties from Kashmir, as a clinching evidence that the deal must be good for India. Now when the same Omar Abdullah who delivered such an impassioned speech in support of the trust vote is complaining of police brutalities and increasing political alienation being inflicted on the people of Kashmir, Manmohan Singh can think of nothing better than delivering hypocritical sermons against divisive politics! He should rest assured that every false claim he made, every hypocritical sermon he delivered in the course of his August 15 address will boomerang on his government and party when the country goes to the polls.

Three days after Manmohan Singh had delivered his bundle of lies, it was time for the people of Pakistan to be treated to some similar false claims and empty boasts by Pervez Musharraf. Faced with an impeachment motion, the flamboyant former military boss turned ‘civilian’ chief resolved to step down, one of his major excuses being he did not want Parliament in Pakistan to be subjected to horse-trading (‘horse training’, as he initially put it before correcting himself), in an obvious oblique reference to the economics and politics of the trust vote farce enacted in Indian Parliament only a few weeks earlier! The streets of Pakistan however erupted in joy, and no tears could be seen for a man used and thrown away by the US after he had delivered for nine long years as a trusted lieutenant of the White House.

The trusted allies of Bush are all having to leave one after another – now with Bush himself awaiting his final exit, his ‘Man Mohan’ must also begin to pack up.

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