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Language Of Real Politiks

Real politiks as we see and understand it today would have been a dull, slow and tedious drama being enacted in front of a bored audience, if it did not come along with its share of horse trading, intrigues, plot hatching and  back stabbing, double speak and playing to the gallery to earn some brownie points. While it stands true that all rational beings want their political representatives to behave in a mature and dignified manner, flamboyance, a degree of eccentricity and the ability to invoke ceetees from the audience has not gone unnoticed. An apt example is Lalu Prasad Yadav, and despite the drubbing his party received in the recently held Assembly election in Bihar, many more people would recognize the face of Lalu than Nitish Kumar, who is credited for nullifying the caste politics championed by Lalu.

And so it goes, that many a time, politicians are wont to state their stand in a language which is beyond the comprehension of the man on the street. This is particularly so, when addressing a contentious issue. Some may call it diplomacy while others may call it lying through one’s teeth, but whatever the case, the fact stands that many politicians have gone the extra mile to fine tune their typical political language to the level of an art. India has produced its fair share of such politicians, whose statements come packed with meanings which could be interpreted in different ways. Such tactics serve a cause when the Government is not in a position to take a final stand on any contentious issue.

So while the rest of the world progressed and realized the importance of a market driven economy, India continued with the Nehruvian idea of a socialist India, which has no room for entrepreneurship. In other words it means that Socialism was the holy word, which every Indian political leader felt obliged to acknowledge as the best route to take the country forward. During the time of Indira Gandhi, the language of politics began to take a more sinister turn and it came in different shades of black and white and a new term, Kitchen Cabinet entered the dictionary of politics in India. The ‘foreign hand’ policy was a sort of a masterstroke, with Mrs. Gandhi using this leeway whenever faced with an internal crisis, or when she finds herself politically cornered.

A natural fall out is the trend of different politicians using different language of politics to slip out of an uneasy situation or divert people’s attention. The movement of Indian troops to the Western border by Rajiv Gandhi in the latter part of the 80s, when Bofors and Fairfax had begun to rumble, was interpreted by many as a tactical ploy to divert people’s attention from the two issues, which ultimately led to his undoing and India saw an alternative in VP Singh, who chose to follow his conscience rather than his leader’s decision. What makes the whole thing all that more interesting is the attempt by numerous political commentators to interpret what the politician actually meant when he said something on an issue, deemed sensitive. This becomes all that more intense when a contentious issue comes under hot a debate between two hostile neighbors or two unfriendly countries. The world witnessed the peaking of this trend during the Cold War but now with the world forced to come to terms with Wikileaks, such acts of ‘diplomatically putting forward one’s view point,’ may be over.

Post independent India has seen some neat side stepping of contentious issue by the people who matter such as the Prime Minister or the Home Minister or the Defense Minister. In the North-East in general and Manipur in particular, one outstanding show of political language utilized was when the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said that the question of integrating all Naga inhabited areas needs a political consensus amongst the neighboring States, while addressing a public meeting at Kohima. This was the time when the threat to the territorial integrity of Manipur hung heavy in the air, especially with the Bangkok Declaration of June 14, 2001, serving as the reminder. What Vajpayee said at Kohima then, did not have any elements to frustrate the NSCN (IM) or the people of Nagaland and neither did it stir a hornet’s nest in Manipur. This was diplomacy at its finest display, which sounded very simple and down to earth to the man on the street, while to the political commentator or analyst, it came packed with meanings, which reflected the stand of the Government then.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not up there at the top of the chart for coming out with witty one liners or statements that are left unsaid but nevertheless serve the purpose of having said it. However his ‘needs a humane touch,’ sentiments while referring to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 2004 at Imphal, went a long way in winning the hearts of the people, though the status quo remains. It is these memorable use of the language, which has become the principle vocabulary of real politiks, that makes politics that much more interesting as a subject to discuss and debate over. And it goes without saying that it needs a receptive mind as well as the ability to understand, feel and see the unsaid part or sentence in a said statement.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has wrapped up his two day visit to Manipur and though he did not address the media or made any fresh commitments, his statement, ‘Meiteis need to talk to Tangkhuls and Tangkhuls need to talk to Kukis,’ is pregnant with meaning and could be the indicator of which direction the  Naga issue is heading towards. Equally significant was his observation ‘the minorities may feel insecure’, while holding forth on the rights and privileges of every community. With just two sentences, Chidambaram showed that he is aware of the deep divide over the Lim issue and whose brainchild it is while on the other hand, he also acknowledged that the minorities in Manipur may not be getting or receiving all that is due to them. It is such political talks that keep the topic of politics interesting and inject that dose of adrenaline in any person who has an inkling of interest in politics.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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