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Romesh ThaparSubscribe to Romesh Thapar

Waiting for a National Consultation

Romesh Thapar I HOPE the message is going home to those who exercise political power in these troubled times. A little bit of flexibility and responsiveness has earned dividends in Punjab. The way is being cleared for more give-and-take, despite the crazy eie- ments If the correction is handled with understanding, and without undue importance being attached to the terrorist attempts to throw us into confusion again, there is every possibility of major breakthroughs.

Living on the Brink

Living on the Brink Romesh Thapar WE are now moving into a situation where very soon we will not have a police force worth the name. The police revolt in Ahmedabad, and the vicious assault on a newspaper which was leading the campaign to expose police illegalities and the tie-ups between corrupt business and ruling Congress politicians, has sent shock waves through a startled Parliament. This is the culmination of a series of 'breakdowns' in the now misused law-and-order system, the last being the grotesque pre- Bluestar drama in Punjab.

The Wages of Politicking

The Wages of Politicking Romesh Thapar WE are into our crisis months. A multitude of problems, left unresolved, by Indira Gandhi, or sharpened by opportunist politicking for sectional advantage and votes, are beginning to surface all at once. ID a sense, the turbulence is a tribute to Rajiv Gandhi. It is felt that he will take a more impartial stand on these tangled issues. At the same time, there is danger in this mood. It can become uncontrollable unless a certain decisiveness and planned perspective become visible.

Wandering and Meandering

Wandering and Meandering Romesh Thapar IT would be a politically educative exercise to research the pressures around Rajiv Gandhi, and how they were dealt with before the decisions were taken on the judicial enquiry into the post-assassination assault on the Sikhs. There is a widespread assumption that the Prime Minister wants to cleanse the political pollution, but powerful interests are confusing him, misleading him. However, despite the dilly-dallying, many anxieties have dissolved. The follow-up on other Punjab tangles should be prompt. Extremism has to be isolated by sensitive governance. The danger is the wandering and meandering.

The Messy Punjab

NOW that some of the hurdles to a substantial dialogue on the Punjab tangle are to be removed, or so it seems from the informed stories now circulating in the Capital, about the institution of two judicial enquiries, the Congress leadership is beginning to activise a new theme. It is that the Congress must prepare for elections which will surely be held in Punjab to test the claims of various political formations, the Akalis included. Maybe, this explains the political play on all sides.

A Gossipy Centre

A Gossipy Centre Romesh Thapar WE now have a new temporary residence for the PM. It is in the nature of a miniature fortress with very high iron railings, sloping ramparts skirting the boundary of two compounds turned into one, and a series of bunkers to 'fix' any intruders. The road in front is closed to traffic, naturally. This temporary abode will be abandoned when the permanent residence in the vast compound of Rashtrapati Bhavan is made ready.

The New Economics

The 'New' Economics? INDIA'S ruling middle class mind has been profoundly excited by the way in which the national budget offered by Rajiv Gandhi's government has finally recognised the respectability of the capitalist system and its dominance in our policy-making. The deiterminatipn with which this has been done, despite the inevitable, massive, built-in inflation (an iniquitous taxation of the poor) certainly points to the new perspectives we are going to push. And the obedient Congress MPs are enthusiastic in their support.

Tackling the Issues

Tackling the Issues? Romesh Thapar THESE days, I am for ever being reminded that I should take a hold of my pessimism. I suppose these warnings are born in the continuing euphoria over Rajiv Gandhi, or what remains of it. But my pessimism is the by-product of the punctured optimisms of the past

Heartland and Periphery

'Heartland' and Periphery Romesh Thapar IT is incredible how much election effort, physical and financial, is expended in this country on the dead, the dying and the almost dead. These last few months provided a dramatic illustration of this obsession. It looked very much as if we would continue our wallowing. Then, suddenly, R K Hegde triumphed in Karnataka on a single issue: good governance.

A One-Party Scenario

A One-Party Scenario Romesh Thapar THE other day, a much experienced politician, now somewhat aloof from the current Opposition power games, launched a broadside on lawyer Lekhi for offering his services to the assassin Satwant Singh. Apart from the fact that the lawyers' profession is in a sense, older than the oldest, our politician, taking his cue from Rajiv Gandhi, accused Lekhi of being involved also in the Godse trial. He had swallowed the big lie, hook, line and sinker. If he had not been cautioned about accuracy, he would probably have proceeded to support Rajiv Gandhi's second big lie that the BJP was involved in the assassination of Indira Gandhi! This true story is an example of what is happening throughout this land as our courageous defenders of the sky, the IAF, carry our newly-elected Prime Minister from constituency to constituency with his bagful of blatant lies, half-truths, conscious concoctions, and those stupid promises to solve all the problems of India. All this ballyhoo is being projected in screaming headlines in the press every day. As for Doordarshan and Akashvani, they too have a field day, but they are worried about the lies getting them into trouble. Our editors, meanwhile, are beginning to show embarrassment in their never-read editorials, but the headlines (which they prefer not to note) are allowed to do the damage intended.

Our Continuous Revolution

Our Continuous Revolution Romesh Thapar EVEN as the assembly contests take on the rancid flavour of another expensive issue-less contest, with 26,500 'contestants' for 2,532 seats (at some points over 200 or 300 are listed in 'ballots' that look like booklets!), Indian 'democracy' enters a kind of self-destruct phase unless we move to an intelligent salvage operation. So far, no such priorities have entered the thinking of our 'Youth Power'.

Where Has the Opposition Gone

Where Has the Opposition Gone? Romesh Thapar WE are into the assembly contests, but apart from Congress rumbles, rebels and revolts, there is little else. Is the media playing dirty and keeping the Opposition out of the coverage, or has the Opposition disappeared, gone into hibernation until our stupid euphorias have dissolved and we have been returned to the grim reality of our national condition? Not a aqueak is heard, either on issues or non-issues.

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