Thanks to a deep-rooted bias, people from rural background are denied their due in almost all walks of life. In particular, the English-speaking ruling elites have all along given short shrift to folks from the hinterland. Scan the pages of your morning English newspapers. Small incidents in metros and towns get magnified manifold but momentous events in rural India get but only a passing mention, if at all. Unfortunately, even the city-based regional press apes the English papers.
The somewhat longish preface was to register protest against the controllers and editors of print media, including the regional language papers, for virtually blacking out Hukmdev Narayan, who spoke so eloquently during the debate on price rise in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The media obsessed with the scripted one-liner of the Congress regent Rahul Gandhi and a fitting response by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Typically, it did not spare a line for the sharp and witty intervention of Narayan.
Yet, Narayan, a committed Lohiaite, who does not append his Yadav caste to his name, easily made the best speech. Laced with plenty of earthy wit and pointed sallies, it provided deep insights into the rural economy. And it left the Congress benches stunned and silent while the ruling benches, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley, could not help thump desks in approval. It was a virtuoso performance, something Indian Parliament gets to witness less and less in these days of poor talent and endemic disruptions and adjournments.
Admittedly, Lalu Yadav too uses local lingo and humour to impress audiences, but Narayan, who first became a member of the Lok Sabha back in 1977 and is now into his fifth term in the Lower House, is far more thoughtful, far more ideological. A graduate in political science and economics, behind his rural exterior lies a very serious and thoughtful politician, reflecting the grim reality of rural India in all its multifarious agonies and inflictions.
Tellingly, he reinforced the point about Rahul Gandhi’s party historically neglecting Bharat in favour of India. Recalling various verbal duels in the Lok Sabha between Lohia and Nehru, which, one can bet, the Gandhi scion may not have even heard of and is certainly not remotely interested in, Narayan asserted how the farming community had always received a raw deal. The poor too wanted to live in dignity but the Congress prided itself in giving them doles, measly rations, but no avenues for education and employment.
Every other sentence in the 20-odd minute speech of the senior BJP member from Madhubani in Bihar reflected the influence of Dr Lohia. Ironically, much better known Lohiaites, namely, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav, seem to have abandoned the late socialist ideologue for the pursuit of money- and caste-fuelled permissive politics. In Narayan’s most thoughtful but humorous speech, Dr Lohia seemed to come alive.
If you do not believe what you are missing, go on the internet and punch Hukmdev Narayan in Lok Sabha. You will not be disappointed. The print media may have ignored it completely, but it is quite a rage on YouTube. Go and educate yourself, dear reader. You will forget about trite and tutored one-liner from that wannabe Prime Minister about “arhar, arhar Modi”. And instead chant, Har, Har Hukmdev.
TRUMP: AMERICA’S KEJRIWAL
Though no one as yet has accused Donald Trump of having a role model in Arvind Kejriwal, we suspect at some mystic level he draws inspiration from the AAP Fuehrer. Notice the unprintable abuse the Republican Party’s presidential candidate hurls at her Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a la Kejriwal against Prime Minister Modi. Also, equally tall promises of erecting a wall along the Mexican border, stopping entry of all Muslims and throwing out over a crore of illegal immigrants from the US. And just as Wild Trump seeks to turn America great, pure-than-driven-snow Kejriwal has already turned Delhi into El Dorado. And now Punjab awaits eagerly for him to make it a land of milk and honey. But that is not why we yet again feel obliged to bring up the self-righteous AK. This time we think he may have even excelled himself, accusing the PM of plotting his physical elimination. We only hope Kerjiwal does not exert his energies to prove himself right. Though his minions, who seem to think with their minds closed and mouths open, have cited by way of evidence some silly messages on social media. Why, Kejriwal’s own MLA Asim Ahmed Khan says he faces threat to his life from the AAP boss. Given the criminal backgrounds of quite a few AAP MLAs, Khan may know something we don’t. As a minister, poor fellow was implementing Kejriwal’s clean government project, when he was replaced by another MLA, who too is said to be following his lead.
ONE SINGULAR FEAT, SEVERAL CLAIMANTS
On the 25th anniversary of the opening up of the economy several commentators have recalled the role and influence of various protagonists in striking the first big blow for reforms and liberalisation.
And contrary to the general impression, the role of Manmohan Singh was minimal, if any. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has recalled in a recent article how as Finance Minister in the Chandra Shekhar government he had prepared virtually the same budget. But was denied credit because the fuzzy-headed Rajiv Gandhi dismissed the government on the excuse that two Haryana constables were loitering outside 10 Janpath. A more flimsy excuse for such a cataclysmic decision was hard to contemplate. In fact, when Singh presented the first draft of the budget to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, the latter was shocked. He is said to have ticked him off, “I did not make you the Finance Minister for continuing what you have been doing for decades…” Or words to that effect. Only then did Singh, ever the pliant bureaucrat, pull out the draft proposals of Sinha and presented them to the country. The rest as they say is history.
As for Singh, well, he is unlike the Sardar who after saving a drowning child refused to accept felicitations, insisting instead on knowing the person who had pushed him into the river. Singh does not deny that he is “the father of the reforms”, though he is not. Narasimha Rao is.
HE ASKED FOR IT
Secularists who are usually quick to defend triple talaq, if only to counter the alleged communal agenda of the BJP, may have missed the report from a small town in UP. It, for once, made that obscurantist tradition look good. Apparently, a newly married woman dumped her husband due to his insistence on getting a car in dowry. All she did to divorce the greedy bum was to say talaq three times and the three-day-old marriage stood annulled. Bravo, woman. Three cheers for you and your ilk.
DEFINED BY PHONE
Who says multinationals do not adapt to local conditions? They do. Look at this new phone from a well-known Korean conglomerate. You press Modi and it goes into flight mode, Manmohan into silent mode, Kejriwal and it immediately shifts to loudspeaker mode. But when you key in Rahul it promptly switches off. Hope Rahul gets the joke.