The Art of Political Retribution: What Chris Christi Can Learn From India
By Anshul RanaEver since the US decided to follow its law and charge an Indian diplomat, (can you believe their gall? treating the privileged as a common person) everyone from our politicians, to the retired â€˜rent-a-byteâ€™ diplomats and of course the louder-than-the-next-news-channel anchors want to teach the US a lesson. But no such moment was forthcoming, till now. So here it is, trumpets, whistles, band and baaja all together â€“ we can teach the leaders of the free world a lesson or two in the â€˜art of political retributionâ€™.Recently, the New York Times reported that a top aide of New Jersey Governor and frontrunner to be the Republican Partyâ€™s presidential candidate in 2016, ordered the closing of two lanes on a key road going into Fort Lee with the aim of punishing the townâ€™s mayor (a democrat) for not endorsing Mr. Christieâ€™s re-election run. The report is based on text messages and emails â€“ one of which even says, â€œTime for some traffic problems in Fort Leeâ€- reportedly sent by the Governorâ€™s deputy chief of staff. Talk about leaving a paper trail!But Republicans aren't alone, in May 2013, a federal auditor claimed that the IRS (the federal tax authority) was unfairly targeting Tea Party (a key Republican party component) related organizations when they applied for tax exempt status. The report led to the firing of the IRS head, six ongoing federal probes and some very uncomfortable questions for President Obama. In a recent TV interview he emphatically denied any chance of an IRS wrongdoing.Now any proud Indian cannot help but feel a little smug. What do these Americans know of political payback? So in the interest of mankind, democracy and of course some misplaced Indian pride, the Indian embassy should organize a five-day long seminar on the â€œArt of Political Retributionâ€ in DC, open to all Americans as part of its people to people contact program.Here is what the seminar itinerary could look like.Day 1: Opening statements by BSP Supremo - MayawatiClaim to Fame: Months after she came to power in 2002, the UP police registered over 100 cases against Samajwadi Party leaders in less than 24 hours and independent MLA Raja Bhaiyya was arrested under POTA (the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act) for working to bring her government down.Recent Activities: Voted out of power and upset with SP governmentâ€™s alleged political witch-hunt she declared in April, â€œJab hamari party ki sarkar banegi tab aise logon ko toda jayega.â€(Literal translation: When my party comes back to power these people will be broken)Consequence of Political Retribution: NoneDay 2: Address by Rahul GandhiClaim to Fame: None whatsoever, since he has refused to hold any position in the government. But otherwise is a Gandhi.Recent Activities: Claimed on a recent TV interview that his fatherâ€™s government worked to stop the Sikh riots in 1984. Consequences: Comments led to some much needed job creation by kick starting an entire industry of â€˜Rahul babaâ€™ jokes on twitter and mobile networks.Day 3: Presentation by any senior leader from the CongressClaim to Fame: Using the CBI as a political tool. Be it Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Jayalalitha or Karunanidhi, CBI cases are opened and shut as soon as the Congress needs their support or wants to send a message to them to fall in line.Recent Activities: May 21, 2013. Just two days after the DMK pulled out of the UPA the CBI decided to raid DMK chief Karunanidhiâ€™s son Stalinâ€™s house in relation to a nine-year-old case. Consequences of Political Retribution: CBI has lost all credibility.Day 4: Presentation by AIADMK Chief, Jayalalithaa Claim to Fame: Within two months of her government coming to power in 2001, Jayalalitha ordered the arrest of her political rival and DMK chief Karunanidhi. He was picked up by the police, from his home, post mid night. Television videos of a 78 year old Karunanidhi being shoved, falling down and manhandled by the police became political folklore in India striking fear through the hearts of Ammaâ€™s opponents.Recent Activities: She hasn't been close to her 2001 form but several DMK leaders have been arrested or charged in criminal cases.Consequences of Political Retribution: NoneAt this point some attendees might point out that the seminar is full of speakers talking about political parties sparring against each other but thereâ€™s nothing on how to punish voters. Well, for these kind of attendees the embassy must unveil the star attraction.Day 5: Keynote Address by Narendra Modi (Via video link since US visa is a problem)Claim to Fame: Reportedly held a meeting with top officials of the state during the 2002 riots ordering them to â€œlet Hindus vent their angerâ€. No investigative agency has been able to prove the meeting was ever held. No aide sent out an email or sms. (Chris Christie, thatâ€™s how itâ€™s done!). Knows will not get most of the Muslim vote and so, much hyped development in Gujarat stops right outside Muslim settlements. Case in point Juhapura and Maqdoomnagar in Ahmedabad.Recent Activity: Has been talking about development only. Ignores all questions about riots or the inequality in Gujaratâ€™s public services.Consequence of Political Retribution: Voted thrice as Chief Minister and may well become the Prime Minister later this year.For a glimpse of what can be expected from US politics after the seminar, just imagine if Laloo Prasad Yadav â€“he who could make billions of dollars appear on the Railways account books from thin air- had taught some simple poll management to George W Bush in 2000. The American Supreme Court wouldn't have had to put its credibility on the line to make him win. He would have won by (super)natural causes.So there you have it, our politicians to the rescue again. And we can rest assured that once the Americans have experienced the teachings of these Indian political gems they will master the art of political retribution. Or maybe, just maybe they will keep all of them for posterity. Fingers crossed.(Anshul Rana is a consultant at the World Bank and a research associate at John Hopkins university. He is obsessed by all things politics).The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.