Honesty Vs Dynasty
How a Gandhi-capped octogenarian is spinning webs around the Congress in a bid to squeeze out the poison of corruption from the system, and how the 150-year party recoils at the idea and how its leaders refuse to give up their old ways.
The UPA Government’s faux bravado and final capitulation in the face of the frenzied public reaction to Anna’s position before and after his incarceration has only underlined what we have been saying for some time now: pelf and hubris do not a government make.
Even as events unfolded around the hack attempts by the Government to silence the Lokpal crusaders, a showdown ensued in the two houses of parliament which many now accept as the defining moment of this entire episode, from the time the protests began on the Lokpal Bill. Anyone who was watching the proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday would not miss the double whammy that leaders of opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha piled on to the ruling combine with distinctly non-linear and penetrating argumentation.
The PM’s address to the houses, it could be said safely now, did more harm to the Government’s cause than good. The specious tapestry of justification that the PM tried to weave, which began as a litany of events, crumbled quickly into a morass of rhetorical positions which were delectably unraveled by Mr. Jailtley in his subsequent reply. But the points to note were the imperious attempt by the PM to subvert the public discourse and present it as a confrontation between civil society and Parliamentary democracy while evading responsibility for the police actions until the last. Although the treasury benches continued to howl in protest every time Mr. Jaitley mentioned this, the truth carried – that nobody challenged the parliament’s role in law making and the Police is under the Centre inDelhi. Thanks to the guileless maneuvering of the PM by his advisors, an issue about the substance of the Lokpal Bill metamorphosed into an issue of freedom to protest and of affiliated rights of the people.
In the Lok Sabha, the leader of opposition scored a bull’s eye and reduced the PM’s arguments to tatters by asking who subverted parliamentary process by consciously disallowing the opposition into the debate on the Lokpal and supping with the so called ‘Annarchists’? Nothing more needed to be said. The pained and self righteous rebuttals looked more like apologies than arguments.
The Justice Soumitra Sen impeachment was the other highlight that inter alia only pressed the aching point – more corruption, this time related to the judiciary throwing into gear newer arguments for demanding the judiciary be tested more stringently under the new Lokpal. In effect, the Congress’ dictatorial attitude and concomitant circumstances have converged in a planetary synchrony that leaves it at the door of the Congress for losing the confidence of the country. Come denouement, it will have nobody else to blame but its own sense of its divine right to rule.
Sections of commentators who have called the anti-corruption movement motivated and populist in a tinge of abuse are in fact paying it compliments – if these are motivated groups, so much the better. If they are popular, it goes to their credit. If anyone supports them – be it the BJP or the RSS, Ramdev or Sri Sri – more power to their elbow. Arm chair punditry and the dwindling tribe of congress supporters may be faulted for missingIndia’s very own jasmine moment, but they should bear in mind that the people of this country smell a victory. Their only option is to be part of it.
Contrary to the insinuations of Congress spokespersons about the relationship between the maelstrom of the anti-corruption movement and the BJP and RSS, when I visited the venues of such protests, particularly Chatrasal Stadium I found no collaboration even between the protestors who had gathered there. It took me about 45 minutes to identify team leaders and who had between them a posse of 20 or such like friends each of whom had converged of their own will or peer pressure. No organization to back them up, I was asked by one to contribute money for candles. Another asked for some food and cold drinks. Walking the length and breadth of these protests, it was clear to anyone without blinkered vision that this country is very angry with the government. True, the post adolescent tribe that is growing by the day and leading the chant is not yet directly attacking the government, but to expect them to do so would be infantile – for one, they are far too unsullied by the demands of polarized politics to take sides, but also for the internal combustion of the movement which tends to blame politicians of all hues for corruption.
The BJP has exhibited statesmanship in underlining its open support for these ‘referendumentalists’ who are pointing to not just another point of view but also expressing disaffection with the subversion of the opinion they want to see sent to Parliament. The BJP must now focus of winning the hearts and minds of this blooded generation with a commitment and high idealism that defines its real ethos. In spite of the ambient cynicism against politicians and politics, my wager is that they would side with a party that has the gumption to accept that a right is a right, and one that is willing to fight the good fight.
This post has appeared as an op-ed piece under a different headline in The Pioneer of Saturday 20th August, 2011
Picture credit: ismaisin.com