The political top brass in the country have adopted a string of New Year resolutions for 2008. Among political parties, the CPM’s big New Year’s resolution is to rename Nandigram. “That way,” explained a party worker, “nobody will be able to rake up the Nandigram issue again.” “If somebody mentions the place we’ll say it doesn’t exist,” he chortled gleefully. O
Opposition sources say the village is likely to be renamed “Buddhagrad”, in honour of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s great victory there, following in the revolutionary tradition of Stalingrad, Leningrad and Undergrad.
However, Marxist scholars pooh-pooh the rumour, pointing out that Undergrad is not a city but short for undergraduate. Meanwhile Prakash Karat, who has been named Newsmaker of the year in 2007 by a leading Indian newsmagazine, has drawn up his own New Year’s resolution. Sources say that apart from a resolve to drink only red wine, he has made a list of “Top ten policies to oppose in 2008” so that he can become Newsmaker of the Year in 2008 as well.
Narendra Modi’s victory in the Gujarat elections has also led to a spate of New Year resolutions. Reports say that at the top of Sonia Gandhi’s list is the sacking of the speechwriter who wrote the infamous “merchants of death” speech, which tilted the balance decisively in Modi’s favour.
On the other hand, the BJP has solemnly resolved to promote Rahul Gandhi in the New Year. “We will do everything we can to ensure that Rahul Gandhi is able to tour each and every nook and cranny in the country,” said a BJP spokesman on condition of anonymity. “His speeches in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have put off so many people that we would like to help him make speeches everywhere,” he added. Meanwhile, Congress organisers in Orissa, where Rahul Gandhi is expected to tour in February, have told the press that the trip may be cancelled because they are likely to fall ill around that time.
The Prime Minister, in keeping with his image as a great reformer, has a set of economic resolutions for 2008. One of them, as he has recently indicated in public, is to “have a hard re-look” at subsidies. Persons in the know believe that his second resolution is to “have a harder re-look” at disinvestment in public sector enterprises, while his third and final pledge is to “have the hardest re-look at labour laws”.
Among New Year’s resolutions in the business world, the board of directors of some of the biggest international banks such as Citigroup, UBS, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and practically every mortgage firm in the US have drawn up a list of sovereign wealth funds (investment companies floated by governments) that can help fill up the huge holes in their balance sheets caused by the subprime crisis. A typical New Year’s resolution by one of these banks goes like this: 1) never lend money to out-of-work no-hope losers who want to buy houses; 2) go cap in hand to the Arabs for a few billion petrodollars; 3) ignore bankers jumping out of office windows and passing by your window on the way down; 4) bow and scrape before the Chinese for a few billion more; and 5) find an Indian CEO to run the business. People in the know say that Vikram Pandit, Citigroup’s new CEO, has as his top resolution: “Lend money only against fixed deposits.”
Incidentally, Chinese president Hu Jintao’s New Year resolution reads as follows: 1) Buy JP Morgan, take over Bank of America, buy Citigroup and other Western financial institutions; 2) Rule the world.
And finally, after the grand victory in Gujarat, Narendra Modi has set his sights higher. Vande Gujarat, a group supporting the Modi campaign, has sent out SMSs saying, “Today Gujarat, tomorrow Delhi. One people, one country and one leader — Narendra Modi.” Accordingly, Modi’s New Year resolutions include: 1) taking Hindi lessons — useful in Delhi; and 2) learning German, since “One people, one country, one leader” sounds so much better in German — “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer”.
(Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint)