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The dark cabals that rule Delhi

November 30, 2010 19:28 IST
Delhi's ruling elite -- politicians, businessmen, journalists and bureaucrats -- corner a huge pie of power and pelf at the exclusion of all others, notes Seema Mustafa.

The political world in Delhi is getting increasingly polarised... those who work, live and breathe with the ruling elite and the handful of 'others' who are really the outsiders, the critics, the rebels and run the risk of being dubbed 'anti-national' by the groupie nationalists at any moment in time. This is largely because they have refused to milk the system.

The favoured many get a slice of the huge pie. This could be as simple as trips with the prime minister if you are part of the ruling journalist elite, invitations to select briefings and government awards.

It could be extensions in bureaucratic jobs, re-appointments as heads of influential government bodies, or just long tenures as advisors of any and every thing. It could be lucrative deals, fast track clearances, red carpet treatment for favoured industrialists and corporate lobbyists.

The nexus is so thick and so close that all merge into one happy pool, dining, wining, confabulating, scheming with each other and of course the politicians in power.

The corrupt find good protection in this huge ruling elite, and never regret the day they gave up their souls to network.

In fact, the outsiders are the honest men and women as everyone is a little scared of them, you never know what they will say or write, and they definitely cannot be taken for granted. How do you buy them off?

So if a lobbyist like this aggressive lady Niira Radia pushes a honest journalist to help determine the composition of the Union Cabinet, she can never be sure that the scribe will not turn around and do a banner headline story exposing her completely. She needs journalists who she is sure of, who will listen to her and will do her bidding.

The same 'thump my back and I will thump yours' syndrome extends to cover appointments of inquiry commissions, delegations and others charged with matters of national import. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his party, from the top down, is comfortable only with those who can be controlled, and follow the strict thin line. It is one of the many reasons why the government resisted the appointment of a parliamentary committee for Jammu and Kashmir, as a sequel to the first all party delegation that visited the state.

It is one of the many reasons why three specific persons, close to the prime minister and known to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, were selected to visit Kashmir and look into the many problems being faced by the people.

No one in Delhi cared whether the panel would be acceptable to the Kashmiris, it was yet again a 'we said so, you better agree' approach that has alienated and angered the people of the sensitive border state.

No one has met the three-member panel, at least none of the separatists or the cross section of affected society. The panel itself is, according to media reports, fighting amongst itself with the result that nothing of any consequence is expected to emerge from it.

The doors instead of being opened have been closed and instead visiting Kashmiri leaders like the soft-spoken Mirwaiz Omar Farooq are being attacked in other states by persons clearly following directives from others. Individuals like Arundhati Roy and S A R Geelani are being booked for sedition for what? For what is just basic stupidity and at worst ignorance?

The government should read its history and its law and explain, instead of acting like an authoritarian regime catering to the basest of responses and reactions. It seems as if now to speak is a crime, to act violently an act of faith.

The Congress, as its Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar admitted recently, has moved to the right. So much so that it is often difficult to differentiate it from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Those at the helm of affairs have so little knowledge about the country, its history and its politics, that they bring nothing but fear to the table. In that they bow to those who have the capability of making the most noise, while the silent majority is completely ignored.

So when the corporate drums start beating 'record growth, record growth' so does the Congress and its government as its leaders cannot hear the poor and their tiny and weak voices saying, 'not for us, not for us.'

Similarly Kashmir, no one here in Delhi is prepared to listen to the voice of the young people, the suffering women, the children, the harassed media, the hundreds and thousands living in fear and completely insecurity. Instead what the Congress and its government listens to are the right-wing drums beating, 'they are traitors, beat them; they want sedition, jail them; they are killers, execute them.'

The people living in the state try and shout back 'Listen to us, address our problems, give us dignity and respect not dole, look after our orphans, give us justice, take action against the guilty...' but their voices are lost in the din.

And we, the watchdogs of society are part of the ruling elite. Because it is lucrative, we get good rewards, we are sought after, we are part of the ruling elite and why should we care or bother about all those poor, needy, suffering, souls out there.

Our job is to prop up the prime ministers and the ruling parties and the corporate classes, it is not for us as journalists to report about the poor and the oppressed. Or about problems like Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland as all these states are so bothersome.

So we scream 'nationalism' when the ruling classes want us to at the top of our voice so a few more persons can be arrested, and talks and dialogue with the people of any kind can be stopped.

For under the new definition of 'nationalism' we can make money, we can emerge as power brokers, and we can become stars of the government kind.

As for the rest -- the honest, the courageous, the committed, the poor, the oppressed, all those who challenge our new definition of 'nationalism' -- they are traitors to be shunned as pariahs. And so cocooned are we in our little Delhi club that we quite forget that we are a miniscule minority, and 'they', these 'others' are really the huge majority.

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Seema Mustafa