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Saturday, December 04, 2021

The inscrutable voter

The 2009 elections have again demonstrated the inscrutability of our voters.

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee |
May 24, 2009 12:37:34 am

The 2009 elections have again demonstrated the inscrutability of our voters. They have rebuffed the confident predictions of electronic and print media and the exit polls of political parties. Postmortem exercises have begun. Some heads are sure to roll. It seems that the voters did not like the constant charge of weakness levelled against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh whom they regard as a decent person with integrity,who had the strength to successfully negotiate the nuclear deal. The fiery speeches of Varun Gandhi with a strong communal strain—which the BJP initially disapproved of but subsequently endorsed—seemingly impressed the electorate in Pilibhit but alienated many across India,especially the minorities.

The battering the Left received in Kerala and particularly in West Bengal,dispelled the myth of its invincibility. The collapse of the Third Front,which the Left enthusiastically embraced despite the absence of any common ideology between its different constituents,has impaired its credibility,which is sad.

Election results reflect the electorate’s desire for certainty,for stability. The Congress,on account of its numbers,does not have to rely upon undependable supporters from outside nor on dubious coalition partners for effecting necessary economic,social and legal reforms. The distribution of portfolios is causing problems with extravagant demands made by the DMK,particularly for inclusion in the Cabinet of two persons with questionable reputations. It is hoped the PM will not succumb to these pressure tactics. The spectacle of other political parties and leaders jumping on the Congress victory bandwagon is amusing if it were not utterly disgusting.

Top most on the agenda of the new government should be the prevention of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into Taliban’s hands. This is not an alarmist speculation. Leon Panetta,the CIA Director,recently confessed that,“We don’t have,frankly,the intelligence to know where they all are located. It is something that we continue to watch.’’ Any possibility of Taliban having access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan should be firmly,nay ruthlessly,scotched because the implications of that event are too frightening to contemplate.

Tamil cause lives on

LTTE forces have been vanquished by the Sri Lankan Army and its chief Prabhakaran is dead. The Tamil cause,however,remains alive. If the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils in Sri Lanka are not fulfilled,the deadly seeds of conflict that Prabhakaran implanted,will continue to simmer. The Sri Lankan Tamil minority will draw inspiration from Prabhakaran as a hero and a martyr and there will be more Prabhakarans in the future. President Rajapaksa should at the earliest initiate a political process that is fully inclusive and which effectively ensures equal political,economic and civil rights for the country’s Tamil minority as Sri Lankan citizens. This is essential for securing a lasting peace and for resolving the ethnic conflict which has long plagued this peaceful island.

India is uniquely placed to play a constructive role in effectuating a just settlement and must strive its utmost to do so. That is the legitimate expectation of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and the vast majority of Tamilians in India.

Defining jazz

Definitions cause problems. Democracy conveys different meanings to different persons. When a regime suppresses freedom of expression,penalises dissent and abolishes judicial scrutiny of its actions and yet proclaims itself a democracy,I lament with the poet: “The purity of language is defiled,the meanings have turned traitor in the night”. Obscenity is incapable of precise definition. Justice Stewart of the US Supreme Court confessed that he could not define obscenity but recognised it when he saw it.

I have been fond of jazz in its various forms: Dixieland,blues,mainstream and be-bop. But if you ask me to define jazz,I can do no better than turn to Wynton Marsalis,the legendary jazz trumpeter. On Inauguration Day when Wynton performed for President Barack Obama at a private White House party,he rightly highlighted that,“the essence of jazz is improvisation and jazz is collective music. Everybody does it together”.

When that happens,I have no difficulty in recognising and enjoying jazz with ecstasy.

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