Monday, July 28, 2008

The Home Minister is at home. Thank You!

A lot has happened since my last post. And I never thought I will have to repeat myself. But then the honourable home minister just got my goat again. He is a nice elderly fellow. I am sure I would not be rude to him if I ever meet him at an informal setup, his Jeetendra shoes notwithstanding. If he was a grand-daddy playing with his grandkids in a park, he would be a natural. But he is more than that.

He is also responsible for India's internal security, which by the way is the most difficult job. Because there is no credible external threat to this country. Our economy is doing well in spite of a slowdown looming over the world. That makes his the most important office in the country. Hence the discomfort. So at the risk of sounding repetative and speaking like an enemy of the great man, I would say what I have to. Because he is not only repetative, he is dangerously banal at a time when India is bleeding from a thousand cuts. He has just repeated himself on TV: "We are assessing the situation. We will defeat the nefarious designs of the terrorists. The nation is showing solidarity with the kin of the victims. We should fight it together. We will catch the guilty."

Union Home Minister Shivraj V. Patil has delivered his quote. His job is done. Splendid. The man who has presided over a sordid series of fatal failures is confident that he is at home in the government. The Bangalore-Ahmedabad blasts won’t cost him his seat because he is irreplaceable. If he was replaceable, he would have been gone a long time ago. His constituency Latur did that happily in 2004 elections, got rid of a vain relic of old world politics.

Only Manmohan Singh cannot. Sonia Gandhi can but she is paying this man off for his unflinching loyalty to her family. The country is paying with blood. Patil is not a political heavyweight. He could not win his own seat. I had suggested a win-win way during the Presidential elections: Make this Patil the President. He was fit for the job. The President’s role, in our parliamentary system, is a ceremonial one and this man would have loved every moment of it. He has the statesman-like looks and has mastered the art of ceremony. He wears bespoke achkans and has great gait on all occasions formal.

That wasn’t to be. Pratibhatai Patil became the President. But all is not lost. Soniaji can still make him the governor of Goa. He will really like that. The Raj Bhavan is fabulous there, where he can laze in the sun with tonnes of tan lotion. He should be given the privilege of giving quotes learned by rote to TV cameras. He can walk into the Goan sunset.

The country will love it too not because serial blasts would stop with his exit but because India will get a functioning home minister at least.

Because the one she got in 2004 started with confusing the security agencies about what to do with the Maoists. He declared he would talk to them and never did. The Maoists today are a bigger threat than they were in 2004. Even the Prime Minister thinks so.

We have seen minor sparks in the Northeast and Kashmir turning into infernos while the state and central machinery tried to decode the silence of the Home Minister. Every time the silence was not pregnant. And every time the firefighting started too late, when a lot had already burnt.

Let us not talk about Delhi, Varanasi, UP Courts, Malegaon, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad etc. He has given his quote already. Splendid.