Tathagata Bhattacharya is Editor, Special Editions, at Network 18. Having worked for well over 10 years with leading national and international media organisations, he is as enthused by newsbreaks and analyses as he is by single malts, Jazz and military aviation. You may come across this man listening to John Coltrane or reading Yasar Kemal on some obscure Himalayan tract though work pressure reduces the statistical probability of such a chance encounter.
Looking at the state of the Indian Union and the polity that governs it, one is prompted to dig Henry B Adams out of his grave just to hear him say: "Chaos was the law of nature, order was the dream of man."
The southernmost states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are still fighting over whether to construct a new dam over the Periyar waters. Since there is no solution without both sides tuning their strings down, it is a problem which is unlikely to be solved by human intervention. Any compromise on either side will have severe political repercussions on the political parties in power in both the states.
A bit up north, suddenly Karnataka is no more in news for being home to the Silicon Valley of India. Its erstwhile chief minister is embroiled in multiple scams and scandals. The loot of the country's mineral wealth by the Reddy Brothers, the untouchables not too long back, has been the icing on the cake.
Back to Tamil Nadu, two of its most prominent leaders, are cooling their heels in the jail. Oh no, news just came in that Kanimozhi has secured bail. A Raja, who apparently cost the country just a little over Rs 175000 crore, becomes the lone representative of DMK in Tihar for the time being.
And of course, in the state, the present government continues to indulge in retributive politics that Tamil Nadu has become infamous for. Cases are registered against DMK leaders with alarming regularity. Every day, there are clashes between DMK and AIADMK supporters. Weekly deaths and daily injuries are the order of the day.
Leaping into Andhra Pradesh, the Telangana issue keeps flaring up every now and then. There are deaths, self immolations, police action. Buses are burnt, properties vandalised. The constant tug of war between the Congress and Jagan Mohan Reddy over 'undecided' MLAs does not even find mention in newspapers any more. However, that tug of war has become much less frequent ever since federal authorities raided Jagan's residential and business premises.
While Orissa suddenly breaks the trend, Bengal more than compensates for that. The Maoists and security forces exchange fire in the west, people in the Terai are disgruntled in the north, clashes between Trinamool and CPI(M), and at times even alliance partner Congress, are routine occurrences. Yesterday, there were three such clashes. In the middle of it, Didi stands tall in Kolkata, making astounding claims like having already created 250000 jobs in the state and how Maoist leader Kishanji fired 1000 AK-47 rounds at 1000 security force personnel before falling to the brave jawans' bullets. In no other state, has a party come to power riding on the Maoists who were then slaughtering Trinamool's derby rivals, the CPI(M).
Bihar under Nitish Kumar gives a big respite and possibly much-needed succour. For, the very word 'Bihar' was synonymous with anarchy even ten years back.
I am not talking about the governments and political leadership of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as much of the states they claim to govern are out of their bounds. In Chhattisgarh, more people go to the Maoist jan adalats with their problems than they go to proper courts. It's free and verdicts are swift, the people say. Now, did not someone somewhere say: People get the government they deserve?
In UP, the polls are just months away. So everyday you hear stories about how the Bicycle will outrun the Elephant and how the Elephant will trample the Hand into oblivion. Strangely, the Lotus seems to have lost all its charm.
Mayawati wants four states out of UP. It shows her brilliant understanding of electoral demographics. It will allow her to cling on to power in two of them at any given point of time. The Congress agrees in principle but feels the time is not ripe now as elections are just some months away. It does not want Behenji to run away with the credit. Mulayam, of course, is the wrestler in the ring, dead opposed to division of what used to be his fiefdom not too long back.
If you have already started crooning "Chaos is a friend of mine," save Dylan's words for later. In Rajasthan, a whole state Cabinet had to resign after more and more Congress MLAs and ministers were found to have watched a CD which shows a nurse-cum-folk singer, who has been missing for months, in a compromising position with a state minister. It was like watching a queue getting longer by the hours. The minister concerned is strongly suspected of having the girl bumped off.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the Abdullahs and the Army are engaged in a turf war to prove who the real master in the troubled state is. In Manipur, an ethnic minority blocks three national highways, the lifeline of an entire state and beyond, for four long months. The Centre sits comfortably numb while people in Imphal are forced to shell out Rs 2000 for a cylinder of cooking gas.
Coming to the Central government, no one can describe it better than the way a senior colleague of mine did earlier in the day. He said, "No one is running the government. The BJP thinks it's running it, the Congress dreams it's running it, Anna Hazare knows he's running it and everyone else is running away from it."
Chaos is not such a bad thing in itself. The most exact of all sciences has also benefited immensely from the Chaos Theory. Closer home, Buddha's words may come as an inspiration: "Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence." We already have the chaos. It's time to fill in the blank.