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We have long known about the adage of not being able to fool all the people all the time.
K Padmanabhaiah returned from Bangkok in June all smug, and appeared on this satellite channel and the other trying to have us all believe that the recalcitrant Naga hostiles had been fool-fledgedly emasculated. They would not pull out from the so-called talks and the silly ceasefire. Experts appeared on the idiot box; other specialists wrote their perfunctory pieces on the great Naga ceasefire. Everyone seemed to pretend that everything was on the right track. They were all fooling a fast one. Who's fooling who? Here are some answers.
The Indian government: We have no one to fool but the Indian people. See, we are holding talks with those Chinki-faced terrorists from that remote part of the country that we and sundry call the North-East. Or should it be, North-east, North East, or Northeast? Well, we don't even know that correctly. There is no difference between a direction and a geo-political bloc, after all. It does not make a fig of a difference. What we will try to do is pit all the stakeholders against each other. They will fight each other, and we will watch the fun. At the end of the day, some of us will be awarded the citizen's awards for going out of our way to enforce peace in the Northeast. The region will not go to pieces; the people can.
The Nagaland government:M Well, if the Indian government can fool the Indian people, we can certainly fool the Naga people more and better. There are two kinds of Indians - Nagas and non-Nagas. There are two types of Nagas as well. The Nagas who live in Nagaland are Nagaland Nagas. The rest are non-Nagaland Nagas. Among the Nagas of Nagaland, there are two kinds: there are underground Nagaland Nagas and overground Nagaland Nagas. The underground Nagaland Nagas can be divided into two categories: those who have a presence and those who do not. The overground Nagaland Nagas are of two types: the ones who exploit the second type and milch the exchequer clean, and the second type who are exploited bone dry by the first. There is so much confusion for us to handle as it is, you see. For more information about the non-Nagaland Nagas, please write to the respective state governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Manipur.
The Assam government: We are all for fooling our own people. We cannot care two hoots about other people. We are very well aware that the Indian government can and will in no way give Naga-inhabited areas of Assam away to Swu, Muivah and company. But we too want to have a role to play in the talks with the Naga hostiles. If not anything, we can whip up passion in our own state. The people of Assam will start believing how much we care for the territorial integrity of the state. It will keep the minds of the people off the Bangladeshi infiltrators issue about which we are not doing anything.
The Arunachal Pradesh government: We are all for fooling our own people too. We too know that the Indian government can and will in no way give Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh away to Swu, Muivah and company. We too want to have a role to play in the talks with the Naga ultras. We know the Swu-Muivah faction of the NSCN hardly has any influence in our state; it is the SS Khaplang faction which does. But who cares. All we want is something that will divert the attention of the people from the Chakma migrants issue which can rock our government any day.
The Manipur government (even though one worth the name does not actually exist now): We wholeheartedly agree with the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments. We would like to have our people believe that the Indian government is all out to carve away the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur. We know it is not a feasible, possible, or an intended scenario. Nevertheless, our purpose is served. Next elections, we will all pledge to protect the territorial integrity of the state. Whosoever's pledge carries more conviction with the people will win. After that we can defect and re-defect and re-re-defect as we please. We do it all in the name of the people. If we don't fool them, who will?
[This piece does not include views of those pressure groups who are NOT trying to fool the people. And there certainly, is not question of carrying the opinions of the people the Northeast over who are the victims of this fool-scale farce.]

Subir Ghosh, is the author of Frontier Travails; Northeast: The Politics of a Mess


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