Identity Crisis

We must now descend from Pandit Ravi Shankar to BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. From the sublime to the clever. For this week, it would be criminal to neglect the story of how the BJP, having been diddled by the Congress in the House on the question of FDI in retail, tried to catch up in Arnab Goswami's TV studio by attacking Walmart for a routine declaration of lobbying expenses to the US Senate.

Ravi Shankar Prasad opened aggressively: "The cat is out of the bag. Disclosure in America but investment is being made in India to persuade the lifting of the gate to FDI in multibrand." But that was a hard corner to get painted into, so he changed his tune to: "If payments are made to legislators in US for lifting of the FDI gate in India, it impinges on our sovereignty."

But then his debate with PC Chacko of the Congress descended into a maddeningly fuzzy vortex whose axis was the grammatical clause, "in India". Were payments made in India to promote FDI in retail or were payments made to promote FDI in retail in India? Prasad exasperated both Chacko and the viewer by deliberately misreading Chacko's statements. Good theatre but finally, a strategy that was too clever to be taken seriously.

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