Exposé sans substance?

We just had the usual weekly excitement with India Against Corruption (IAC) making another “selective” exposé — this time it has flayed some of the country’s leading corporates for laundering their illicit money running into thousands of crores of rupees though multinational bank, HSBC.

I think the IAC is going to attract a great deal of funds. In this season of cynicism everyone can settle scores by exposing their opponents without having to furnish any proof. Moreover, the “business of PILs” has moved to the media. Is that because while the court of law requires evidence, no such thing is required in the “media trial” conducted by our visual media? Who will waste their time and money on litigation in law courts that will go on for the next two decades anyway? I think the IAC will do a little more damage before corrective measures are taken. Arvind Kejriwal will turn on his “benefactors” as he turned on Anna Hazare. And as the system deals with the excesses the hunters will become the hunted.
The IAC is, virtually, a political party playing politics and we may well be witnessing a series of corporate battles. The media barons, many of whom have assets running into thousands of crores, may well come in the firing line before long. We have a situation where the line of propriety is being breached too frequently. Now it is the IAC which the media has discovered as it takes down personalities and reputations. Next it will be some other “public litigant”, and the TV circus will go on. Every week there will be new victims to sustain public interest. We speak of the rule of law but we make a mockery of the system with this kind of PILs (where you require no proof to malign) moving into the TV tabloid media. I wonder how the media is not getting tired of the constant negative vibes generated by the IAC. Frankly, there was nothing original in the last four exposés but recycled material. Mr Kejriwal will get more desperate by the day. Violence is in the air, as he can do anything in his pursuit of power.
The UPA-2 should last its full term. The politics of the situation is very clear. By political logic why would any regional party barring the Trinamul Congress want the government to fall when the pattern for the Lok Sabha 2014 are not clear between the Congress and the BJP? I have revised the seat figures marginally. The two national parties will get140 seats each, with the regional parties taking 250-260 seats together. We see preliminary moves in the regional parties to form alliances but everyone will watch the coming electoral battles in the states where Assembly polls are due in the intervening period between now and the national election in 2014.
The regional parties will not give up without a fight, and their likely haul of 250-260 seats indicates that a block of 150 MPs coming together and staking claim to form the national government is not beyond the realm of possibility. While there are five leaders — J. Jayalalithaa, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati — who will fight for the top job there will be secondary considerations in government formation also. Many in the regional fold will prefer the other regional forces to national parties, as the former will not challenge their positions in the states. These are early days yet, and everyone has their thinking caps on.
Thus, everyone can try to form government provided they and the political parties they head can predict who will go with whom in the future. Every party will have to prepare for change, and change often is not easy, as the political system is under pressure. When we talk of change in structure and in the chain of authority there are bound to be both positive and negative reactions. In the current mood in particular, every change will elicit reactions, and this will be more noticeable in the Congress and the BJP. Change in these parties will have impact beyond a state or two. It is the law of nature that in an uncertain situation and low numbers every individual and every pressure group becomes stronger than the power source, and options if available make the situation more complicated.
We had three decades of majority rule, we now have had three decades of coalition rule. But we are still splintering into smaller groups. Why is this process taking place even as it makes effective governance impossible? The aam aadmi is watching very carefully — no one wants chaos. I think we are going to see some very surprising election results in the near future, for the last thing we want is chaos and anarchy. The “haves and have-nots” syndrome may not work as the aam aadmi like all of us has also changed over the last decade and now aspires for a better future and is unlikely to indulge in violence.
It’s good to hear that the UPA-2 may increase the cap on LPG cylinders from 6 to 12 and this is very welcome. There is more to statistics in decisions of this nature. 2013 is going to be a very difficult year and I do hope that besides the UPA at the Centre, the states will also observe a very strict austerity code on expenditure and the same should be true of industry.

The writer is a former Union minister

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