Oily Truth & Bharat Bandh


It’s the football season, the time when mundane, every day conversations start being dominated by goals, red cards and penalties and when strangely eloquent Latin American names start rolling off our tongues with ease. Indian politics, ever ready to adopt the flavour of the season showed us, this Monday, its own theatrical rendition of the great game, a strike against price rise in petrol by central government

India is no stranger to political one up-man ship, where the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Parties, the AIDMK, the Telugu Desam, the Janata Dal (United and not so United) and other one man opposition parties Mulayan Singh, Laloo Yadav, Bal Thackeray etc etc fought a turf war on the Bandh day. The fact that they are on the same side of the 120 yards of pitch and are a team, when it comes to decontrolling fuel prices, was forgotten during the Bharath Bandh match. The cost of this one day extravaganza was a whopping Rs 13,000 crore (Rs 130 billion) for the Indian economy.

It was nice to see BJP President Nitin Gadkari wearing a Saffron Jersey 10.  Like Messi, he kind of controls vast swathes of the midfield and yet couldn’t scores goals. But unlike the real Messi for whom Jesus Christ is important, our Messi was definitely hoping for the next ‘hand of God’ while turning every flower petals at the feet of Lord Ram. We also saw former President Rajnath Singh (like Tevez) wearing another Saffron Jersey 0, sweating it out in New Delhi along with our Messi. Thankfully our Tavez didn’t score any offside goal.

But the BJP strategically deployed all its senior leaders across India in order to make the Bandh a success.  It looked as if the formation BJP believed in to have all the players at the Congress goal mouth. We had Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in Bhopal, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in Lucknow, Venkaiah Naidu in Hyderabad, Anant Kumar in Bangalore, Gopinath Munde in Mumbai and Vasundhara Raje in Jaipur. It was also refreshing to see CPM’s Sitaram Yechury in the same pitch, playing with saffron side, but wearing another Jersey 10 in Red (distictly different from Gadkari).

In the odd and absurd politics in our country all the teams benefit either by being in regime party or opposition party. While it was the United Front Government of which Left parties along with the Telugu Desam and Samajwadi Party were a part, started fuel price deregulation. In 1997, the UF government notified full deregulation of prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene by 2002. In 2002, the National Democratic Alliance the coalition government lead by the BJP in an attempt to phase out subsidy on petroleum products, dismantled the administered pricing mechanism (APM) paving the way for free pricing mechanism for petrol and diesel, while prices of kerosene and LPG were still kept under the regulator’s purview. This United Progressive Alliance another coalition government with the DMK and TMC as its key allies, just followed suit on the policy already defined. This exposes the ‘Great Indian Hypocrisy’.

The spectators (poor people and daily wage earners), with no choice between the teams, is crying foul and some twiddling their collective thumbs, but no one in the pitch (Parliament) or the stadium (India) is listening.

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