Let sanity prevail

Whether or not it is the proverbial lull before the storm, the first two days of the winter session have passed off without much trouble. For once, honourable members did conduct themselves quite honourably. But keep your fingers crossed. You never know when they would revert to the bad ways, disrupting proceedings for no particular reason than the fact that being in the Opposition they know nothing better.

Beginning the session with a debate on the chief maker of the Constitution was a good idea. It helped inject a modicum of sobriety to the proceedings. Accumulated angst, real or imaginary, about events in the inter-session period might now reveal itself in slow spurts in the remaining part of the session, but the danger of a volcanic eruption seems to have passed, especially after the welcome ice-breaker of a pow-wow between Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi and her pet intellectual Manmohan Singh.

The debate on the foundational charter of the Republic did not throw much light. Even the barbs in Sonia Gandhi’s prepared text were not such as to raise the hackles of the treasury benches. Tellingly, she mentioned the part about B.R. Ambedkar stressing that regardless of the goodness or badness of a Constitution what eventually matters is the quality of men and women entrusted to implement it. Yes, India hasn’t always been fortunate in having good people at the helm, something for voters to ponder seriously.

But the Congress boss skipped the part wherein the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly in the last address before it was wound up enjoined upon the political class to eschew the entire armoury of agitational politics. “…we must hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives…we must abandon the methods of disobedience, non-cooperation, satyagrah… These methods are nothing but the grammar of anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us…”

In the light of the above, those who disrupted the entire monsoon session, hindered legislation, and, generally, brought the parliamentary system into disrepute with their constant barracking, shouting, placard-waving et al, must revisit their approach to opposing the government of the day. Tit-for-tat tactics too do not justify the arbitrary hijacking of Parliament for reasons of personal pique and an inability to respect the people’s verdict. Forty-four members could not be allowed to arrogate to themselves the right to dictate to the 320-plus majority.


Army on front needs strong back-up

The debate threw up the old canard about the Sangh Parivar not participating in the freedom movement. That the Congress was an omnibus platform for waging struggle against the colonial power and not a political party ought to be plain to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. Rejecting the advice of the Mahatma, it selfishly continued as a party, even though a number of courageous leaders did leave it in disgust, some forming their own separate ideology-based parties.

The greed for readily available power made the dominant leadership to stick with the name and flag of the pre-freedom Congress. Since the pull of the Congress name with the masses was stronger than anything anyone could have offered soon after Independence, all but the most intrepid stayed back. That would explain why leaders like Rajendra Prasad, Purshottam Das Tandon and a host of others continued despite being marginalised by Nehru.

In fact, it was good to see the Congress leaders dusting off the memory of Rajendra Prasad, a clear concession to the party’s diminishing influence under the Gandhis. Maybe the return to power as a junior player in Bihar has obliged it to reclaim Prasad, the only two-term President, as its own. For close to half a century they did not utter his name, nor bother to visit the decrepit Sadakat Ashram in Patna. It is no small gain for sobriety if the Gandhis get off the high horse and recognise that they are among quite a few players in the polity and not the foremost ones.

As for the RSS not participating in the freedom movement, its founder Dr Hedgewar, was a covenanted member of the Congress. Upon realising that the movement needed to be bolstered by deeper consolidation of the majority community he undertook the mission to organise it in a single well-knit voluntary unit. After all, the army on the front needs able and even cleverer men behind to organise, plan and keep it well-supplied. Soon, as the Muslim League began to menace the country, the freedom movement relied on it to counter its wily and wild games.

It might be sobering for the twits and tweeters to know that before the Partition the Congress was widely known as the Hindu Party, a label now sought to be stuck on the BJP by the so-called secularists with an eye on the minority vote. Indeed, any historian of the freedom struggle would find merit in the charge that one of the key factors for the division of the sub-continent was the refusal of Nehru to accommodate and work with Jinnah. Besides, spending time in jail for a cause is easy, especially if you are not subjected to any hardship, which the top Congress leadership was not, while supporting those inside and keeping the “work” going in their absence is far more arduous. For instance, it would not be correct that only those who were in jail during the Emergency opposed it. No. Far more people who did not go to jail resisted the Emergency in their own ways, with some, admittedly, engaged in supporting the MISA detenues.

Incidentally, the carnage that accompanied the division of the country would have been far more horrendous in the absence of a volunteer force of dedicated and disciplined members. India would have lost more territory to Pakistan, including Gurdaspur, which offered the only land route to the Kashmir valley, had the RSS and the Akalis not kept up the pressure on a woolly-headed Congress leadership, which was in a tearing hurry to occupy the seats of power.


Tyranny of ­political ­correctness

Call it the tyranny of political correctness. We are now told it is a crime to sport a mauli on your wrist. Going by the lamentations of a regional editor — who has reason to be beholden to his former employers for the current position and he duly shows it in the paper — Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh violated some unwritten code by wearing the red thread on his wrist. The argument being that mauli as a symbol of Hindus violates the “secular” image of the army. Apparently, the November 1-15 issue of the army journal, Sainik Samachar, has the Army chief, fully resplendent in uniform, taking salute, with the sacred thread on his right arm clearly visible. The same issue has a group photo of senior officers, four of whom are also seen wearing the red thread on their wrists. But why was it so was clear from the journal but the editor failed to mention it or did not want to. Apparently, the photograph was taken on the Infantry Day, which the Army marks with a special puja followed by the top brass commemorating the landing of the Sikh Regiment in Srinagar in 1947 which extinguished the threat of the Pakistani marauders.

By that logic, a Sikh officer wearing a kada, a caste Brahmin sporting a sacred thread (janeu) around his neck, to give but only two of the many such ingrained practices among Indians following different religious and ethnic practices, would be offensive to our secularist warriors.

It should be a sobering thought for those purveying jaundiced views that Indira Gandhi, who sought to divide the polity in secular and communal categories for selfish reasons, always wore the big-beaded Rudraksha mala around her neck. Did she not thus advertise her faith in Hindu religion? Or was it kosher for her since she headed the Congress party?

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