A billion people shall wait night and day,
for this child of man to have his say;
for he will be the one to whom they pray,
this child of man who just wants to play.
- A modern day ‘re-boot’ of one of Nostradamus’ predictions
Many many moons ago, when the sky was dark and the air was suffocating, a man sat looking at the future of the human race in the majestic portal that lived in the small lake near his house. Now, some people say that that old man was just trippin’ and most of his predictions are vague enough that they can be made to fit any event in human history. However, we true believers know in our heart of hearts that he always knew what we did last summer.
As the great seer predicted, the people of this country spend their days and nights waiting for their favourite man-child to emerge from his man-cave to vocalize his most recent epiphany. India is a computer! Poor people are like spaceships! We’re all living in virtual world while our real bodies are used by our robotic overlords for their own sustenance!
Recently, while part-time Prime Minister and full time employee of Gandhi Inc., Manmohan Singh, was in Washington to meet the self-proclaimed leader of the free world so that they could have an awkward conversation of epic proportions, our childus emeritus decided to steal away the meagre spotlight from his company’s most loyal employee.
Some members of Team Rahul (Yup, that’s a thing now. Apparently, every moniker these days must be dumbed down to buzzwords so stupid that even teenagers whose only point of reference is a book about vampires can understand them.) had a bright idea! They thought that it would cause no harm if they let their ward appear briefly on teevee to pronounce his opposition to a recent step taken by the government that would benefit members of the political establishment who, let’s just say, were a little creative in their interpretation of what is considered ‘lawful activity.’ Why not let the second most powerful person in the party directly contradict the Prime Minister while he is on an important international tour? That wouldn’t diminish the Prime Minister’s standing in the international community or anything.
So a choreographed hijack of a press conference was arranged for maximum dramatic effect! It was a perfect setup. From the sycophantic welcome he received from the press club representative, to his pause for gasps and pearl clutching while declaring his opinion, to the metaphorical mic drop and stage exit. Another episode of ‘Two Minute Political Wisdom,’ brought to you by the information age. As easy to make as a packet of noodles!
Now usually the Prime Minister can win a couple of newscycles whenever he returns from a meeting with President Barry America. Just last week, if he’d let one of the bureaucratic adoptees working for him mention, in confidence of course, to an agency reporter that Barry himself walked Singh towards his car, it would have gotten him about three days worth of positive press. Even Arnab Goswami would have been impressed enough to call a large panel of Pakistani generals to his show so he could spend a couple of hours gloating to their face. (Although to be fair it doesn’t take much to impress Arnab Goswami. Just yesterday, Arnab spent five hours watching a goldfish swimming in a glass container full of water. In the end, it turned out to be a piece of toast that Arnab had dropped into the water when he bent down to look inside.) However, thanks to his younger boss, the only time the PM’s name was mentioned at all last week was in conjunction with the words “resignation” and “what a miserable state of existence to be in.”
In fact, the clamour for Manmohan Singh to resign reached ridiculous levels. Someone who is considered a very serious person with intelligent opinions by most of our news organizations said that the Prime Minister should resign while he is on a bilateral visit! Because that is how you run a country. Just take your toys and go home because the mean kid from down the street questions your ability to authentically replicate the sound a train makes while in motion. In the whole sordid episode, the only person who actually seemed most like an adult human was Manmohan Singh. The man who wouldn’t be able to sell space on a lifeboat to passengers of a sinking ship! He was the designate driver in a car full of irresponsible idiots who couldn’t hold their alcohol! People planning on having kids, do you really want to bring them up in a world in which Manmohan Singh is deemed the sanest person around?
The only silver lining in the whole ordeal was watching the sycophants who had spent the past few days trying to sell the ordinance to the public, turning around and calling it the worst thing to happen to mankind since the bubonic plague. As a connoisseur of hilarity, it was rather entertaining. As a citizen though, it was disconcerting to watch the speed at which the members of our political cults inhabited the opinion of their dear leader and made it their own. As ‘India’s nightingale’ Jayanti Natrajan put it, if the scion takes a view everyone else will obviously fall in line. Obviously! Because in a shamocracy, holding an opinion contrary to the stated position of the object of your worship even though it might be official party policy is like trying to hold two radioactive nuclei in a box made of uranium-238.
If only someone had predicted that this would happen.
(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)