22 October, 2020

Kingsize Follies

Bhandari lords it over a political tinderbox of his making

Kingsize Follies
FEW tears are being shed in Lucknow for Romesh Bhandari. Sidelined bureaucrats, stumped politicians, disgruntled policemen, ignored pressmen are all strutting around with an "I-told-you-so" air at the plight of the wining, dining, golfing ex-foreign secretary. And the worse plight of India's most populous state.

To be sure, Uttar Pradesh is far from the road to "anarchy, chaos and destruction". Even police chief Haridas Rao admits law and order is no better or worse than it has been in five years, a point Bhandari made in his riposte to the Home Minister. Schools, colleges, offices function normally. Riots and clashes are passe. Life goes on.

But Indrajit Gupta's gaffe has swung the spotlight on the real issues: the drift and uncertainty facing 160 million people as the political impasse continues, and Bhandari's inability to fill the breach. "The most volatile thing in UP today are the MLAs waiting to take oath. They have to be taken care of quickly to stop the Biharisation of UP," says a bureaucrat. "President's rule is usually a remedy....



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