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Thursday, June 26, 2014

A tale of two Sarkars

The More Things Change the more they stay the same ….
Ah, is it just me or does anybody see
The new improved tomorrow isn't what it used to be
Yesterday keeps comin' 'round, it's just reality
It's the same damn song with a different melody …..
….Don't hold out for tomorrow or hold onto yesterday
You know the more things change the more they stay the same
The same sunrise, it's just another day
If you hang in long enough they say you're comin' back….
The more things change the more they stay the same

To paraphrase Bon Jovi, am I the only one getting a sinking feeling, resulting from a sense of déjà vu , in the stomach? Not the sinking feeling one gets when one knows that the exam results are round the corner and that they are going to be catastrophic. Right now the sinking sensation is just in its embryonic stage – it is like a soft furry ball forming somewhere in the middle of the stomach, but it can hurtle towards the pit of the stomach at any point in the future.

You want to know why déjà vu? Let me share something I had written sometime in 2011, at the nadir of Dr Singh’s brand of governance. The article was titled ‘There is a hole in the Story’.

I look at him patiently . He is not  getting it right away but I know that sooner than later he will . He repeats ," why have my grey sock been paired with my brown ones?" I also( patiently) repeat my earlier reply," yes, my work is to keep things back in their place -but my work does not entail telling how the grey went with the brown .It was so very obviously their decision  and they should  tell the whys and the wherefores". The husband looks at me incredulously ,opens his mouth to say something, glances at his watch , quickly slips on sandals( minus socks) and marches away.

 I go back to reading what I had been reading before I was so unnecessarily interrupted. Just then the daughter comes huffing and puffing -" mom, you know I am in a rush - why have you given me such piping hot milk?" I look at her lovingly  and  patiently reply ," darling, I know I heated the milk but how it got so hot is not for me to answer ". She first laughs ( you know how people do when told something very bizzare) then seeing how I am so not non serious says ," are you o.k?" I assure her of my good health .She now glances uncertainly at me and then at the paper.  Her expression lightens-" oh, that explains it" ,and giving me a kiss runs off to college.

I am tidying the boy's study table . Just then  I see his science paper - it drives me to near hysteria. "How did you get a B-? nobody in our family has ever got such low grades". He looks  up from what he is reading and tells  me ( patiently  ), "my work is to study. How I got a B-  is not for me to answer. The teacher is answerable for this". I am stunned by his answer. Such a wise head on  such young shoulders.
 Pride and relief ( at least one offspring has found the mantra to success) make me laugh happily. "let's make  pancakes", I tell him . He gets up .The newspaper he is reading falls to the ground .

The Home minister is telling the nation that Anna's arrest is not his area of concern .It is for the Delhi police to answer ; the P.M is quoted as saying ( yes! he did it. He actually mouthed a few measured words) that he has no solution to corruption; the F.M says that he cannot comment on inflation ; the foreign minister says that he can comment on Pak's foreign minister and on absolutely nothing else - it is not his job to be updated on all the POW figures - or any other figure ; the Prince in waiting says that he and the queen mother cannot speak on anything . "How can we ?" he asks, smiling in a boyish and charming manner , ( disarming the gathered media and driving the swooning girls to bouts of dizziness) " we have our work cut out for us. After all , controlling so many strings is not an easy job. No , thanks . We will continue to leave the speaking to Messrs Sibal , Tiwari, Soni, Singhvi et al. "

Two days later . I am counting the clothes that have come back from ironing. " Mohan ", I tell the dhobi," these are only 11 shirts. I had sent 12 ". He stands straight and tall and (honestly and patiently) says,''memsahib, my work is to iron clothes. How many reach back to the owners is not my work".

Cut to June 2014. Is it just about a month to the euphoric victory of Mr Modi-? to the rush of adrenaline , pride and joy on  his oath taking day? to the tears of joy and relief one shed at being rid of a non answerable government ? to the prayers of thanksgiving one uttered every morning and night – that finally here was somebody one could look up to, and that that somebody would pick up the reins of the country and  all of us, all  100 crores of us  , would  trot off into a brilliant future?

The déjà vu is because :  the first announcement from the office of the HRD minister is that the FYUP of Delhi University will be scrapped. One applauds the decision and says,” Good going, Smriti Irani”. Twenty days later one is not so gung ho . There is a stand off between the UGC and the University. Admissions are on hold and students and parents are confused and scared . There is information deficit but worse is that  there is  unaccountability and  lack of ownership. Why is no one from the government coming out and saying-“this is my baby- I will take care of it, hold its hand, guide it and nurture it and make sure is a success”?  Isn’t this unaccountability what we panned the previous government for?

Déjà vu because we are beginning to hear the same “ this is the party line  and not necessarily the view of the government” being parroted. For heavens sake ! for us the party is the government and the man, oops, the government is the party. We do not want another  decade of  ‘now we  cosy up ,now we don’t’ game being played.

Déjà vu  because even the party spokespersons are beginning to sound the same. We had barely finished heaving a sigh of relief at getting rid of Sanjay Jha when in steps Mr Mahapatra and back come our heaving sighs at the sheer nonsense and arrogance being spouted.

Déjà vu because unanswered questions are beginning  to pile up. If the new government was planning a railway fare hike why this was not disclosed in the many election meetings held prior to the elections? The people voted the Modi government to power on the promise that prices and inflation would be curbed. The hike seems like a betrayal of trust. O.K, we get the point now that coffers are empty, bankruptcy is staring the country in the face and … But why  could all this not have been shared earlier. You want to know when earlier? When we were being promised that ‘good  days are ahead’ then.

Hey Mr Modi . Don’t get me wrong . This is not a criticism. It is just a maudlin outpouring from someone who announced on the day you became Prime minister, “ Here is the man who will put every wrong right.”  Yes, I admit every is a very burdensome expectation- but could you please start putting some wrongs right? Not saddling us with a sinking feeling for one ?


  1. It is indeed deja vu, Anju. The same policies are copied or continued. We knew this would happen, didn't we? I knew, at least. That's why I voted for AAP. But AK had already betrayed us all, especially Delhiites. Still I voted his party. TINA factor was the reason.

    1. Tomichan, absolutely correct. I too voted for AAP in the December assembly elections only to be absolutely disillusioned by AK's antics. Sometimes I feel our politicians are just a mirror image of us, as a society and we are only getting what we are sowing! What say?

  2. I agree with your post, but I was expecting a deja vu. The BJP and Congress are similar in action, the only difference used to be presentation.
    I also agree that our politicians are a mirror image of us. We need to change first before expecting them to change. This is democracy, after all.
    Well-written post.

  3. Kiran, you have made a very relevant point- and one I agree with in toto- that our politicians are a mirror image of our society, of us .
    Well said!!