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OPINION: Irfan Ali’s selection gives the coalition the election

By GHK Lall

Now that it is official, there is a single simple question: who is going to vote for that fine learned gentleman? I can see only diehard PPP supporters coming out to exercise the franchise. And that would be far from enough in the usual razor-thin environment. Even their own people would have serious disbelief and chronic problems in digesting this development; and this in spite of all the conditioning that was done and is sure to follow. And if their own voters find this candidate highly unsatisfactory, what better could be expected in terms of acceptance from the next side of the divide?

Clearly, this is a creature of a calculating leader, secret ballot and all, consensus candidate and all. And sometimes, clever men end up outsmarting themselves. That leadership control, reported since earlier in the week to have been a “lock” as to the choice is going to come back to haunt. The man is not of leadership caliber, of anything; that is inarguable and not subject to any considerable debate. Definitely not presidential timber, even of the cheapest, least sturdy variety. No mention, not even a whiff, is made of court matters or any other controversies pending and sure to rage over this incomprehensible outcome. There are still other matters to be exhumed; none good. Then again, all things and ingredients and players considered, it is not so incomprehensible after all.

Yes, the name was bandied about with a lot of orchestrated delirious talk of qualifications (or lack of them). But who in their right minds would vote for a sterling upstanding fellow as this one, who travels with so much baggage? So much disregard? And this is not only measuring from the opposition side of the voting fence. This is either overcalculation or overconfidence; or, given the known Machiavellian operator who was reckless enough to show his hand and choice in public, I am wicked enough and conspiratorial enough to suspect a fix.

Exxon has a lot of muscle. In many things, many places; and in many currencies with many people. It would not have minded spending; and there is widespread suspicion in this country that there is insatiable greed powering certain leaders who aspire for unending dominance. One of the options I am weighing is the thought that matters came down to this: name your price, as your group is not going to gain the upper hand in the booth; or on the street. Additionally, I am of the strong opinion that the mighty United States may have spoken on the sidelines to that senior chap, who has developed a gift for speaking from several sides of his own mouth at the same time on the same subject. The conversation would have been similar: call a number. It is that or nothing else. Guaranteed.

This is one of the spaces in which I am working, as the opposition’s election result translates to a virtual giveaway to the coalition government. Stated otherwise, any upcoming national election is in the hands of the coalition government to lose. It is made that straightforward by that clearly prearranged internal election that has to be embarrassing and demeaning to the real stalwarts in the party. I do believe that the former Attorney General, or the miscast Dr. Kildare, would have brought out the base, and given the coalition a run for its money. It is astonishing that men of this political and academic ilk would kowtow so slavishly to the whims and caprices of an overweening and troubled captaincy. And now questionable, too, as to any ulterior motives. In view of what is now final, I would submit that even the geriatric Gail, or the youthful Vindhya and junior Charles would rally better and harder (perhaps, more successfully) the loyalists, party fence-sitters, and uncommitted.