Sunanda Vashisht
Theatre of the Absurd
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

Earlier this afternoon something rather strange happened with me. I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline when I came across some tweets joking about Youth Congress members burning copies of Times of India rather than TIME magazine, protesting the cover story that was rather critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s performance. I thought it was a joke and didn’t give it much thought till much later when I actually came across the news item confirming the story. Some Youth Congress members had indeed protested outside US embassy in Chennai (as if TIME is a US Government publication) and burnt copies of Times of India. After laughing out loud and falling off the chair moment, I was struck by the absurdity that is UPA 2.

Theater of Absurd is a form of drama made up of apparently absurd, incongruous or pointless situations and dialogue, typically expressing the existential nature of self isolation, anxiety and frustration.  UPA 2 right now IS Theater of Absurd. Plagued by scams of gigantic proportions, weighed down by the inefficiency of its lead actors, and stagnated by inaction of the man who is supposedly the captain of the ship, Congress party  is carrying it own dead weight. With the albatross of dynasty around its neck stifling it further, Indian National Congress, Grand old Party of India is way past its glorious days. A comeback, not a rarity in politics, especially in Indian politics, seems difficult at least with the current bunch of leaders. Congress party which has been the fiefdom of Nehru Gandhi family is now at a loss because the heir to the mantle has been a complete failure. Union Law minister, Salman Khurshid correctly diagnosed the problem when he said that Congress party at the moment is ‘directionless’ and Rahul Gandhi needs to do more than cameos he has been seen doing. In other words he directly accused the heir apparent of ineptitude. Of course he later blamed the media for taking his words out of context (politics 101 when you get caught in sniper fire) but it was interesting that he did not retract his statement.

There are numerous reasons and explanations as to why UPA floundered in its second innings especially after the pretty convincing mandate they received in 2009. Corruption of course tops the list. Giant welfare schemes like NREGA that completely crippled the economy (There are no free lunches, somebody has got to pay for it), inefficiency of its senior ministers and pure and simple greed of everyone involved with running the govt.

Union Home Minister is more in news for his involvement in 2G scam than his performance as 2nd most important person in the cabinet, HRD minister is busy destroying the finest educational institutions that this country has known, External Affairs Minister, when he is not busy reading speeches of his Portuguese counterpart, plays referee to the feuding tennis players of the country. Outgoing, Finance minister, when he was not making backroom deals and trouble shooting was busy lobbying for cushy retirement in Rahtrapati Bhawan. And the Prime Minister himself is neither heard nor seen. If this isn’t classic scenario of Theater of Absurd, I don’t know what is.

As is typical of a theater of absurd production UPA 2 is going through a major existential crisis. Unlike other genres of Drama, Theater of absurd ends on no definite note. In fact in the classic production you can’t even tell the beginning from the end. It all seems to end where it all began or it begins where it all ended. There are no solutions given because no one knows any solutions including the playwright. The only way to end a Theater of Absurd production is by having all the actors exit the stage and let the curtain fall for the next act to begin.

While there is disarray in UPA 2, next leader is confidently making giant strides. He is a proven leader with enviable administrative skills and vision. He has nothing to do with the negativity engulfing the country. He is ready to take this country to its zenith with his sincere efforts and commitment to the people. That man from West India is ready to ascend the stage when the curtain falls on this Theater of Absurd.

Image from here.