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Line out of control

The LoC used to stand for Letter of Credit, but the Hurriyat & Co have taken these initials into another business altogether. This joint venture has had several other partners, State, State-sponsored and State-denied, with the result that it has been more of a Line of Contention.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2002 19:35 IST

The LoC used to stand for Letter of Credit, but the Hurriyat & Co have taken these initials into another business altogether. This joint venture has had several other partners, State, State-sponsored and State-denied, with the result that it has been more of a Line of Contention.

For several decades the rest of the world ignored the Indo-Pak dead-LoC as nothing more than a border spat. The ominous N-word recently changed all that, and the prospect of 12 million people being vaporised within hours has made the whole planet acquire an uneasy familiarity with LoC. It’s much the same as the way Bosnia-Herzegovina began smoothly slipping off the tongues of people who previously didn’t even know that Milosevic rhymed with Sonofabitch.

War clouds mutating into mushroom clouds have given new meaning to what was once hailed as the Internet’s amazing achievement. Now, our geography could become history if the likes of Armitage can’t defuse the impending Armageddon. The flashpoint LoC is thus more appropriately an LooC, a Line out of Control.

However, that 700 km dotted-line of the Kashmir border is not the only one that’s gone berserk. Every section of our daily newspaper — politics, international affairs, business, sports, entertainment — indicates that every situation has become an LooC. Let’s take them one at a time.

Indo-Indo LooC. We blame Musharraf, his military and his militants for not following any line of control, but what are we, or the international mediators, to make of the out-of-control line taken by George Fernandes? The Defence Minister once again shot himself in the foot by loudly taking a stand on joint-patrolling which was completely at variance with Atal-ji’s diplomatic astuteness at Almaty.

State Government LooC. The former was only a skirmish compared to the Line out of Control which boomed across Maharashtra politics last week. ‘PWP’ does not stand for ‘Please Weep Profusely’, but that’s what the slighted Peasants and Workers Party made the Chief Minister do by withdrawing its support. As a result, the ruling Democratic Front became neither (and it didn’t seem to be ruling much either).

This led to the Line out of Control of the defection drama. The NCP and Congress party combine had to ensure that its members were not hijacked. And, as in any hijack attempt, unscheduled destinations became part of the script. Not one of your terrorism-with-overflowing-loos kind of hold-up; the coveted MLAs got a free and five-star Bharat Darshan. Forty from the NCP luxuriated in Indore’s Hotel Sayaji, while their counterparts from the Congress were wined and dined at Sanjay Khan’s Golden Spa resort in Bangalore. Defectors to the Shiv Sena had to make do at Mumbai’s considerably more downmarket Matoshree Club.

Indeed, the Maharashtra LooC had many points in common with the Indo-Pak LoC. It had coercive diplomacy, and monitoring/verification mechanisms. But third party mediation was a distinct no-no if said third parties were saffron.

Foreign LooC. Nothing was more insulting — and pathetic — than the out-of-control scramble of different governments, starting with the US, to get diplomatic staff and other nationals out of India. You could call it a Blackwill gesture.

Business LooC. Without dispute, this was the Tata-VSNL controversy. Admittedly, the Rs 1,200 crores of VSNL money invested in Tata Teleservices was a bit out of control. But it was nothing compared to the excesses of Pramod Mahajan, who decided to fire his unclear warheads at his colleague, Arun Shourie. That old hero of Bofors is hardly a man who would scoot after a shoot.

Sports LooC. At the World Cup, it was difficult to figure out whose Line was more out of Control. That of the crazed fans, that of the players whose injuries competed with their hairstyles, or that of the colonial hangovers which got kicked around the goalposts. Don’t cry, Argentina.

Social LooC. With all these political, business, and sports LooC-alikes rampaging across the past week, it seemed as if the original out of control crowd wasn’t going to get a look-in at all. We needn’t have worried. The Society-page celebs have enough and to spare of sleek, drop-dead missiles, to say nothing of both fusion and fission. The party circuit’s Lines out of Control stretched from cleavage to hem (not a very long distance as the eye flies).

Celluloid LooC. Bollywood, which is the hardiest out-of-control perennial, certainly did not lag behind. If the hype over Devdas was the earlier LooC, this week’s out-of-control offering was the number of films on Bhagat Singh. Hope they don’t bomb.

* * *

Alec Smart said, “Why did Beckham celebrate with Delhi chaat ? Because he loves Spicey goal-guppa.”

First Published: Jun 29, 2002 19:35 IST