Nuance of political discourse lost in days of 140-letter tweet haze

Indian politics is too complex and full of paradoxes to reduce to an objective-type, yes/no Q&A session to understand its nuances, as is being done by media these days


Ajay Singh | June 18, 2013

LK Advani: Rabble rouser or sane face of BJP`s purportedly `saner` phase?
LK Advani: Rabble rouser or sane face of BJP`s purportedly `saner` phase?

I have never made a fetish of consistency. I am a votary of Truth and I must say what I feel and think at a given moment on the question, without regard to what I may have said before on it.… As my vision gets clearer, my views must grow clearer with daily practice. Where I have deliberately altered an opinion, the change should be obvious; only, a careful eye would notice a gradual and imperceptible evolution.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi would have been subjected to severe scrutiny in TV studios and social media for this perceived “indiscretion”. In an age of twitter and sound bite, where political discourses are summed up in 140 characters, this smart statement would have been blown to smithereens. Anchors would have torn apart Gandhi for treading in grey areas without committing himself in black and white.

Having done the job of a reporter on Indian politics for nearly three decades, I am amused to look at the manner in which political discourse in the country is being conducted these days. If a politician is hauled over coals for his inconsistencies, the truth about the evolution of life through contradictions is often lost sight of. And Indian politics is full of these paradoxes and contradictions.

A recount of the brief political history would be in order to understand the phenomena of political debates in TV studios, and even in print. For Instance, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was firm on banning the RSS and refused to recognise its nationalist credentials after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. But soon after the humiliating defeat in the India-China war of 1962, a much mellowed Nehru allowed the RSS to participate in the Republic Day parade. Does that dilute Pandit Nehru’s secular credentials?

Indira Gandhi emerged as the most authoritarian ruler that the country has ever witnessed. She suppressed dissent with ruthless efficacy and imposed Emergency to terminate the fundamental rights of citizens. But Indira Gandhi lifted Emergency and ensured a fair election which saw her exit. She returned to power after the Janata Party’s failed experiment. Does that make her a true democrat?

Rajiv Gandhi rode the wave of people’s sympathy for a certain Mr Clean determined to clean the Augean stable dirtied by courtiers of his mother. His demenaour and personality stood in contrast to a group of old Congressmen who surrounded Indira Gandhi. People found an instant resonance of sincerity and innocence in his voice shorn of rhetoric. But three years later, he got himself embroiled in the Bofors payoff case. His image has not been resurrected till date, though the Bofors case stands closed. Was he Mr Clean or Mr Corrupt?

In his tenure as the UP chief minister, VP Singh came to be recognised as anti-OBC for launching a ruthless operation in Chambal ravines to eliminate bandits, belonging mostly to the backward castes. Mulayam Singh Yadav was then a staunch opponent. In 1989, Singh rediscovered himself as champion of the OBCs by implementing the Mandal commission report, and Mulayam came on board as an ally. Singh advocated the cause of social justice till he breathed his last. Was he a real proponent of social justice?

These are some of the endless political conundrums which need elaboration and deep understanding of the social context of the time. But what will you do if the discourse is reduced to an objective-type questioning of yes/no for an answer?

If LK Advani was accused of leading the mob to destroy the mosque at Ayodhya, why did he praise Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Pakistan? Is he an opportunist? It is indeed difficult to decipher Advani’s politics through research and elaboration and more easy to find an answer in yes/no terms.

There is little doubt that the quick-fix understanding of politics has created an atmosphere of despondency and cynicism in the society. But the medium through which this atmosphere emanates is unlikely to insulate itself from the concomitant damage.



Other News

It`s time to Unlock now, with economic focus

With Lockdown 4 ending Sunday, the home ministry has issued new guidelines to fight COVID-19 and for phased re-opening of areas outside the Containment Zones. The guidelines, issued based on extensive consultations held with states and UTs, will be effective from June 1 till June 30. The first phase of reo

Small kitchen gardens turn saviours for Gujarat tribal families

When the whole world is fighting COVID-19, food and nutrition security has become a major issue. The pandemic has aggravated the existing food crisis in India, especially in rural and tribal regions. There has been less availability of fresh foods in most parts of the country, and the tribal community has

India will set example of post-Covid-19 economic revival: Modi

India is determined to “set an example” for the rest of the word in the post-pandemic economic revival, prime minister Narendra Modi has said, underling the need to become self-reliant. “There is also a widespread debate on how the economies of various countries, including

3,543 ‘Shramik Special’ trains transport 48 lakh people in 26 days

Close to 48 lakh migrant labourers have been able to reach home from the cities they were working in, as the Indian Railways have run a total of 3,543 “Sharmik Special” trains from May 1. Following the home ministry order regarding the movement by special trains of migrant worker

How Jeevan Raths have helped 52,000 migrants in Maharashtra

Before the novel coronavirus hit it, Mumbai about 10-12 lakh labourers from elsewhere had made it their home. The figure for the state of Maharashtra was another 18-20 lakh. As the pandemic spread and the Maximum City emerged as the worst-hit place in India, all economic activities came to an end, and with

China is practicing attack as the best form of defence

For the rest of the world, it is not easy to understand China when it comes to politics or economics. Under pressure from the international community, it has accepted to open the country for a “comprehensive” probe into the origin of the deadly coronavirus. But it is not clear whether the Asian


Current Issue


Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter