Let us grant Naresh Agarwal, the newly-minted BJP member, full marks for honesty. He said he was dumping Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party for his new political home because he was denied re-nomination to the Rajya Sabha. What he went on to say about Jaya Bachchan, who was chosen over him for re-nomination for the fourth straight term, was odious, but that is another matter. Agarwal, the rather unsavoury UP politician who has now travelled virtually the entire political spectrum relevant in UP at one time or the other, needs to be commended for his open admission that he hankers after power. They all do, but only a few admit it. In any case, BJP was not giving Agarwal a Rajya Sabha seat. If he still joined the party, it is to register protest against Akhilesh Yadav, whom he supported during the internal tussle for the control of the party against his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Clearly, all politics has become transactional. No politician bothers about ideology or an old-fashioned sense of loyalty. All that matters is his own selfish interest. What is there in it for me, is the foremost question that determines the course of action of a modern-day politician. Ideology, idealism, fidelity to a larger cause vanished from politics once Indira Gandhi most brazenly split the Congress to serve her own selfish ends back in 1969. Now, all parties are indistinguishable from one another, including the one that boasted not long ago about being “a party with a difference”. And, of course, the newbie, Aam Aadmi Party, whose sheer opportunism puts to shame the veteran practitioners of power politics. In its current avatar, the BJP has opened doors to all comers. This may have served the party well in its bid to expand its footprint to all corners of the country. But admitting people like Agarwal does create an impression that the party has become a dharamshala where every sinner of every stripe can take shelter. Risking such criticism, the party sources said, was worth it since Agarwal’s son, Nitin, a sitting Samajwadi MLA, would vote against the party’s candidate in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha poll.
This could deny the BSP-SP-Congress combine a seat in the Upper House. If this happens, in sheer political terms granting Agarwal Senior entry was worth the price for an additional seat in the BJP kitty. Politics shorn of ideological mumbo-jumbo is now reduced to a numbers game. And BJP under the Modi-Shah duo does tend to get its sums right.
BECOME POLITICIAN AND GET RICH
No wonder politics has become a gravy train every Indian wants to have a merry ride on. Did you know that legislators in Haryana take home at least Rs.50,000 in pension and a 245%—yes, a 245%—dearness allowance on the pension? The monthly pension increases with each term, two-time MLAs receive Rs 90,000 and those who have done four terms help themselves to Rs 2 lakh and those with five terms Rs 2.5 lakh. And the dearness allowance of 245% is calculated on the amount of pension a legislator is entitled to. If this is not broad-daylight plunder of the state’s resources, what is? Happily, the Manohar Lal Khattar government is keen to put a stop to this loot. It has proposed legislation to reduce this largesse, even though the move is unlikely to endear him to the political class. At least for this sensible act, Khattar deserves praise.
LOST YOUR JOB, BLAME IT ON MODI
An editor of a regional paper has put in his papers a couple of months ahead of the end of his contractual agreement. And the anti-Modi megaphones are crying from the housetops that he is the latest victim of the government’s systematic plan to snuff out free press. Yes, not long ago, these self-styled defenders of free media had wailed in unison when the promoters of a television channel, who were accused of money-laundering back in the time when the UPA was in power, were raided by the authorities. Since then, the income tax authorities have duly adjudicated and slapped a penalty of over Rs 400 crore on the promoters and raised a demand for an equal amount in unpaid taxes for round-tripping of funds. But not a word in the much-heralded free media.
The latest journalist who is supposed to be paraded as a victim of Narendra Modi had developed differences with his board of trustees over a series of reports which branded a Punjab politician as the kingpin of drug mafia. When sued for defamation, the paper chickened out and put out on page one in bold letters an abject apology. The great editor at the time let his colleagues know that the apology did not have his approval and he wanted to quit. Instead, the chairman of the board of trustees, a widely respected former High Court judge, quit. And his place was taken by an evergreen former bureaucrat who was one of the trustees.
Well, to cut the long story short, when the one and only honest politician, Arvind Kejriwal tendered an unconditional apology to the same Punjab politician, the great editor had no moral right to continue, having made much to-do over the apology his paper offered against his wishes last October. Indeed, it is only fair and just if the former chairman of the board, having been duly vindicated, returns to his old position.
As for the wonted non-partisan character of the old trust-run paper, the truth is that under the self-styled scholar-intellectual-editor it had become viscerally anti-Modi and an unabashed vehicle for pro-Congress propaganda. Don’t recall anyone else calling for the impeachment of the former CAG Vinod Rai in the first flush of “victory” for the 2G crooks. Nor does one recall such gloating at the “judicial coup” by the four Supreme Court judges. Or, for that matter, a gadfly politician overnight turning into a great intellectual-scholar when he tweeted against the Adanis and becoming evil incarnate when the same politician accused the Gandhis of a Rs 2,000-crore National Herald fraud.
Meanwhile, one wonders if the founders of the anti-Modi propaganda website, which has apparently catalogued a long list of those who it insists have lost their jobs because of their refusal to toe the government line, too claim to be victims of the anti-media, anti-liberal Modi-Shah duo, or were they given the marching orders by their former employers for some other reasons?