Thursday, July 17, 2008

Masterful Butchery and Rapier wit

The whole blogosphere seems to be heaving a collective sigh of relief at the Left-UPA divorce after 4 years of matrimonial horror (make that 3, counting out the first Honeymoon year). Doubtless that most of them fine folks favour a centre-right viewpoint (my observation in general), but even the most objective student of our present situation will agree that this cut is a good thing.

First of all, it took a long time for the UPA to realize that the Left parties were taking a free ride on both the pro-govt and opposition backs. By cowardly giving only outside support, they ensured that they could take their own viewpoints on different agendas and gather votes. I'm sure that when he made that momentous decision in 2004, Surjeet Singh would have also salivated at the electoral prospects of acting as a peacemaker and mediator between both sides of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, the great Carrot seems to have got his head spun backwards; sticking to hopeless dogma and strict overseas instructions in not budging. If UPA-Left relations soured in 2005, don't blame the nuke deal for it, the tension had been building the moment Karat put his fingers into the Central Governance pie and found the pudding soft, malleable and tasty.

And given the amount of pliability the Congress has shown the Left in agreeing to all their demands just to keep the ruling Dynasty in power, its not hard to figure out the reason for Karat and Cos' smugness. Unfortunately for them, the beam snapped, as beams are wont to do when pushed too far.

It is here that I admire the masterstrokes that 10, Janpath has wrought to the political Picasso over the past month or two. Regular readers of this blog would probably know that I'm not a great fan of the Congress party. While do think their local leaders are among the best there are, the micromanagement from the Central Dynasty has ruined it all. I'm certainly skeptical about Sonia Gandhi's administrative capability. The next generation of princes too worry me.

But for all the criticisms, We've got to admit, Sonia-ben is a dab hand at political masterstrokes, and regularly shows glimpses of her mother-in-law's cold, calculating ruthlessness (who can forget the coup that kicked out Kesri and brought her in).

In appeasing the Commies over the past year by keeping the Nuke deal in the background while gaining leverage from their co-operation during local polls, the UPA probably made a calculated decision to cut off the relationship before it became a millstone in preparing for the polls, and pushing through the related policies.

In effect, by wooing the SP close to them, and making the announcement in Tokyo rather than back in Delhi, the Congress upset the Left's well-laid out plans, and in one sweep of the blade, cut their leverage to nothing. Seize the advantage, and you win. It was a move worthy of Don Corleone.

Not only has Sonia's strategy defanged the BJP's assertion that the government is weak, but, with the SP in its pocket, has removed the Left's chances of cobbling together a Third Front next year. And if the inflation situation does ease out, we may very well see the Congress coming back to power with a similar, if not slightly higher number of seats.

As I see more of Sonia Gandhi, one's respect for her grows. Not for her idealism or administrative prowess (for she has little aptitude for the latter, and even less of the former), but her tactics. She has proven to be an excellent player at the game of intrigue, and a clever operative. Its Godfather meets James Bond. I can't think of any other leader who plays this game better. Advani may be a good mass mover, and Arun Jaitley a great strategist in planning polls, Sonia is more than a match for both in silent killing.

Unfortunately, The problem arises when she puts the family position ahead of the Party, refusing to yield power to the local leaders, and creating a web of local, infighting satraps. Karnataka was the best example of this disastrous policy. Perhaps then, its time that Sonia starts looking out for her Party rather than family.

Till then, lets pop the champagne at the removal of the Red boulder in the country's path, and pray that it doesn't come crashing down on the UPA during the next Lok Sabha Session

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