The theatre of the absurd is a loaded thing. It seeks the meaning of life from an existential perspective and shows as if there is no meaning in life.  One can say that it indirectly supports the statuesque. But it is also a critique of the system because it exposes the façade involved in the routine. Here we are not going so deep into the philosophy of the absurd theatre. We shall try to see the absurdity in the literal sense.

So many absurd things are happening all around us these days. It looks as if Assam is a cauldron of absurdity. Let us first discuss an issue that was thrown to us from the national level. Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi did an overhaul of his council of ministers. He included a few new faces into it and dropped some.

The Prime Minister is deft at turning everything into a mega affair. So he advised his new entrants to the cabinet that they should visit their respective states with a great deal of fanfare and the party should make the arrangement to offer them a grand welcome at different places in each state. And it would be called Jan Ashirvad Yatra. The ministers will seek Ashirvad from the people. But the same has to be organized by the party. How hollow was this exercise?

Do we remember an earlier occasion when a new central minister was feted like this? No. Then why did they do this?  What has the Central government done for the people of India in the last few years? Nothing.  If they have done something, they have brought new miseries to the life of the people. But it is the philosophy of the BJP to turn every flimsy thing into a grand narrative. They are good only at it.  This is a party of hopes and dream makers.

A new minister is inducted into the central cabinet and it is presented to the people as if he will bring all prosperity and happiness to them. The whole thing is planned in a manner as if nothing like this has happened earlier. How absurd! A mere nothing has been projected as everything. What didn’t happen earlier for years will happen now after the induction of Sarbananda Sonowal as a cabinet minister?

This pure lie is presented as a grand truth. And people dressed up at many places, I don’t know whether to greet or shower the new cabinet minister with Ahirvad. Again, who is offering Ahirvad to whom? In this exercise, from the state party president to the chief minister almost all the important party functionaries were present in almost all the places where he was feted and greeted.

Here, they also roped in well-dressed so-called eminent locals. This is one side. There is also another, more ominous side to this absurdity. Assam is still reeling under the second wave of Coronavirus. The lockdown is on and every now and then the state government has been issuing SOP announcing various restrictions- the most notables among them are social distancing means maintaining a physical distance of two meters in any get-together and congregation and wearing of masks.

Strangely in the Jana Ashirvad Yatra, all these restrictions and norms are best followed in their breach. Who are breaching them? The cabinet minister, the chief minister, important BJP functionaries and their colleagues and cohorts breached these restrictions and norms with impunity. How can they do that, under what provision of law? Why the police and the administration were looking other way when they were at it?

This is the grossest breach of law. The irony and absurdity of the matter is that the breaching is done by people who should have maintained it. How do you explain this? Is there some logic in it? There is absolutely no logic in it. That means we are in a time when you need not follow rule if you belong to the ruling party. This is most weird and absurd.

There are many other brands of absurdities. Another one is the frequency of holding the cabinet meeting. The present dispensation at Dispur has decided to hold a cabinet meeting each week. What is the purpose of holding cabinet meetings so frequently? The purpose is clear and simple. The intent is to give an impression to people that each week state government is taking important decisions affecting the lives of people. Is it so? I doubt!

First thing, there are certain procedures for holding a cabinet meeting. And there are two kinds of cabinet meetings.  One is of routine nature and the other is of an emergency kind. When there is an emergency, any time a cabinet meeting can be held. Government works through files. Barring exceptions and emergencies, the files are moved from top to bottom and bottom to top.

For any serious thing, the departmental procedures and processes are to be followed before taking the final decisions which may need the approval of the cabinet. The cabinet cannot take a decision if the file is not processed properly. Ask any senior bureaucrat about the procedure. Except for an emergency, the departmental procedures necessitate it. Following these procedures needs time and in no government set up it can be done in a week. Time is needed for proper vetting and examination and interdepartmental clearance too.  You cannot do it just in a week.

Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: malakarparesh@gmail.com