Monday, July 31, 2017

In the ruins of Magadh. By Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Kya isse kuch fark padega/
agar main kahun/
main Magadh ka nahin/
Avanti ka hun?
Magadh ke maane nahi jaoge
Avanti mein pehchane nahi jaoge

WHILE IT IS easier to decry Nitish Kumar’s BJP embrace as yet another instance of rotten politics, the Patna text demands a different reading. Here are eight propositions to decode its narrative.
One: Indian Politics is now an individualistic utilitarian act. It has moved beyond the Plato’s advice in The Republic that true politics is ethics in action. It now involves the art of managing multiple partners simultaneously, with the sole aim to maximising pleasure and power. It celebrates and legitimises narcissism. Many have practised this art before Nitish, he will also have his successors, some of whom will perform this art on him too.

Two: The Patna episode was not a drama, but a novel. Such political coups, because of their curious turns, are often termed as “dramatic”. In great novels, of Paul Auster’s for instance, even the most bizarre twists of life appear predetermined and inevitable. Indian politics has now the ability to deliver the most curious scenarios with routine ease. It no longer surprises us, but reveals itself in chilling banality. The drama is over. Indian politics is now a novel waiting for its generous writers.

We already have an illustrious novel to exemplify it. Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting begins with an 1948 incident in which the revered Communist leader and author Vladimir Clementis took off his cap and placed it on the fellow comrade and Prime Minster Klement Gottwald’s head before an applauding crowd of several thousands in Prague. The sky sprinkled fresh white snow over Prague as Czechoslovakia ushered into a historic moment. Soon after, Clementis was charged with sedition and executed. His cap still remained on Gottwald’s head, but few knew that it belonged to the persecuted leader.

Three: The phrase “U-turn” needs a review. We take many turns through our life, changing jobs, lovers and friends. Our choices often contradict each other. We move on, but quite often return to embrace those with whom we had a bitter separation. We can also lend some space to politicians to make such turns.

Four: His BJP embrace does not mean that Nitish is now “anti-corruption” but supports “lynching and communalism”. To assume that he was a staunch advocate of secularism until his resignation but lost these credentials thereafter is a misleading interpretation of the human mind… read more: