Tuesday, July 29, 2008


One thought that the sight of bribe money being flashed in Parliament by MPs alleging that they were paid to either vote against the government or abstain from voting was the nadir below which even India’s politicians would find it difficult to descend. Unfortunately, on almost a daily basis, most parties, particularly the BJP, are shocking the nation by actions and statements bordering on insanity.

The recent series of blasts that rocked Bangalore and Ahmedabad have shocked the nation and renewed yet-to-be-heard calls for a drastic overhaul of the political, bureaucratic and intelligence structures that have dismally failed to deliver time after time. Ths endemic and debilitating failure cuts across party lines and is taking the country towards a communal bloodbath of unprecedented proportions.

What is the least that one expects from political leaders of supposedly responsible parties? Reasonable restraint and a bipartisan analysis so that the shaken confidence of citizens is restored as soon as possible and an effective national response is developed to tackle this very serious and growing threat of terrorism. For first couple of days after the blasts, senior opposition leaders did show some restraint.

Then came the bombshell with more shrapnel than all the bombs that the terrorists had set off. The BJP, devastated after failing to defeat the government in Parliament, all but accused the central government of orchestrating these terror attacks to divert attention from the cash-for-votes scam that the BJP has accused it of. This charge was not made casually by an insignificant leader of that party. It was consciously made to the media by Sushma Swaraj, a senior leader who fancies her chances of becoming the PM at some point of time.

How can the second largest political party which may well be running the government after the elections next year make such a preposterous charge? Under normal circumstances, such a statement would have been the butt of jokes and ridicule. But, when it made over the dead bodies of innocent Indians who have been killed in these blasts, it is horrifying and inexcusable. Only terrorists score points over dead bodies. That is their job. Politicians who do so need to be placed in the same category. Their place is in a mental asylum, not in civil society.

The BJP had earlier lost a rare opportunity to prove that it was a party with a difference when it decided to oppose the government on securing a deal that the BJP itself was salivating to get from the US. Defeating the government was given precedence over benefitting the nation in a bipartisan manner. Mr Advani and his party have perhaps yet to realise that they lost almost the perfect opportunity to rise above myopic pettiness and begin a new and long overdue chapter in Indian politics.

To make matters worse, the BJP tried to get into an indefensibly immoral alliance with the same Amar Singh who joined the opposite camp later, to topple the government, through the otherwise sophisticated and seemingly responsible Jaswant Singh. When it comes to the lure of power, they all can stoop to every inconceivable level.

The BJP’s other USP, when it was in power, was economic reforms. The UPA government was for four long years rendered completely impotent by its allies, the commies, when it came to pushing through big ticket reforms badly required to sustain economic growth. Now that the commies have been sidelined, the government was very eager to get them back on track, in the six odd months that are left before the next elections.

What stance has the BJP taken about these reforms which it too believes are needed by the country? Sinking to another low, it has announced that it will not allow the government to go ahead with them in Parliament. The government has to be opposed, even if it is doing exactly what you want to do yourself. The nation’s need is not even a factor to be considered. It is almost like saying that the country can go to hell but I won’t let my opponents take credit for giving it that much needed supply of oxygen.

No one knows where the commies will be after the next elections. If they again wind up getting a choking stake in the government, it will be goodbye to reforms for five more years. The next few months present the only clear window to get a lot of pending proposals through, those which even the BJP believes are needed. No one knows it better than the BJP. So what if it is not in power? These measures are urgently required by the nation. Enough time has already been lost. Who is greater, party or nation?

This sickening display of petty and destructive politics has for long been the hallmark of Indian politics. To our politicians, politics is little more than a means to get to power. They have all forgotten that the basic purpose of all political activity, no matter which system is in place, has to be to ensure that the best possible leaders can be found to lead a country. For most of India’s politicians, leading is an alien word. Their goal is simply to rule, all means fair.

Brace yourself for more lows from not just the BJP but other political parties as well in the next few months as they all try desperately to humiliate and embarrass their political opponents in the fond hope of winning over additional voters through the use of these destructive tactics. Things may well get worse after the elections.

The way things sliding into an abyss, the day is not far off when these so called leaders will conclusively prove to this country that they are just not fit to lead it. To them, the greatest enemies of this nation are their political opponents, who have to be defeated at all costs. Terrorists with weapons and bombs can continue to enjoy their dance of death, the nation can keep suffering, and you and I can keep watch TV with increasing frustration and helplessness. These are minor irritants for them.

Their real war is about getting to the ‘gaddi’, the seat of power. Their real terrorists are those who oppose them politically.