Indian democracy has flourished despite periodic ‘murders’ since the founding of the Republic.
There must be something about Indian democracy that it manages to survive murder every once in a while. Or could its indomitability be ascribed to the resilience of Hinduism, which refuses to die despite having suffered a long series of assaults by foreign invaders and proselytizing zealots? Given the quick death of democracy in our neighbouring country, born at the same time as us, at their own hands, the majority community can congratulate itself for having kept democracy alive in spite of its politicians.
Now the on-going political circus in Karnataka has caused the Great Leader Rahul Gandhi to lament the “murder of democracy”. One was not surprised. In the lexicon of politicians that ghoulish phrase easily slips off the tongues whenever they find themselves on the losing side. Of course, one does not expect Rahul to recall that first time someone had used that term was way back in 1959 when a popular government in Kerala was dismissed for no good reason other than that it was the first democratically elected communist government in the world. If the newly-minted Congress boss should know, the assassins of democracy at the time were none other than Indira Gandhi, who as the Congress boss was inspired by the CIA to work on her doting father and India’s first Prime Minister to commit the aforementioned crime.
Indeed, if ever Rahul felt the inclination to brush up on the history of his family, his forebears were miles ahead of the competition in committing the self-same murder of democracy the maximum number of times since the birth of India as a separate nation. Indeed, in our book, when Nehru conspired to keep B.R. Ambedkar out of Parliament by hook or crook that was no less than a murder of democracy in the manner in which Nehru’s great-grandson now bandies around that term whenever he feels thwarted in his prime ministerial ambitions. For it would have been in the fitness of things to allow the “maker of Constitution” entry into Parliament unopposed.
The denouement in the newly-constituted Karnataka Assembly still a few hours away at the time of writing, we can only lament that the Congress virus of the pursuit of power uninformed by any concern for constitutional proprieties and ethics seems to have infected every political formation, big or small. Rahul Congress should feel flattered that what his father and grandmother practised as Prime Minister has become the standard template for all others, with the Modi-Shah BJP having become quite adept at beating the Grand Old Party at its own game. There are no saints in politics, at least not in present-day politics. As they say, is hamam mein sab nangey.
If the BJP relied upon a friendly Bengaluru Raj Bhavan to install its government with rocket speed, even though it was short of the half-way mark by a few seats, the abuse of the gubernatorial office too is nothing new. We have been there before, done it and survived as a democracy. For, it is the strength of our people and their faith in our Constitution that despite being pelted daily by the very people who were expected to be its protectors and upholders, it still manages to survive in one piece. In fact, the GOP set the bar so low for adhering to the word and spirit of the founding document that other parties will have to work really hard to match that unparalleled assault on the republican values.
Let us face it. There are no saints in politics. If, of all the people, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could approvingly quote the foremost protagonist of pragmatic, nay unscrupulous politics, nay, Nicollo Machiavelli, the 15th century Italian philosopher, lesser politicians pursuing power for its own sake can well be excused. Incidentally, when V.P. Singh Badnore, now the Governor of Punjab, taunted in a Lok Sabha debate that even for endorsing his point he felt obliged to quote the Italian philosopher, the PM smirked with embarrassment, protesting that the BJP member was hitting below the belt.
Meanwhile, it is amusing to see Rahul lament the loss of independence of the judiciary presumably due to the climate of fear generated by the Modi government, and a few hours later, commend the same judiciary for displaying courage and integrity to uphold the Constitution when it ordered the Yeddyurappa government to face the majority test at a few hours’ notice. Such a transactional attitude towards constitutional institutions reflects a sickening mindset rooted in selfishness and a sense of entitlement. If Indira Gandhi’s inheritor at one remove really wants to know when the Supreme Court truly lost its independence, he should note the public confession by then Chief Justice of India Y.V. Chandrachud. He acknowledged that in the Emergency the judges were acting out of fear and that was why they had snuffed out the fundamental rights of all Indians. Now the judges feel so free that they hold press conferences to air their petty quarrels and internal differences with fellow judges!
Back to Karnataka, though. Well, a couple of days after the polling, Siddaramaiah sensed that his low stratagems to use the anti-North, anti-Hindi card, to talk up the Kannada sub-nationalism, etc., had not worked. And fearing that his party might seek an alliance with the JD(S), the party that he now hates with a passion, he floated the trial balloon of a Dalit Chief Minister only in order to deny chief ministership to his bête noire H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Unfortunately for him, having been allowed a free hand pre-poll, the poor showing by the Congress meant that the central leadership felt under no obligation to consult him before offering the crown to the third largest party, a case of the tail wagging the dog, is it? A helpless Siddaramaiah could do very little, though he would not be too unhappy if the BJP were to succeed in proving its numbers on the floor of the Assembly. There is no love lost between Siddaramaiah and the Gowdas, and the hurriedly cobbled together alliance is bound to come unstuck whatever be the outcome of the floor test on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 May.
RESORT POLITICS AS OLD AS HILLS
It is natural for people to feel that things were never so bad, isn’t it? To tell you the truth, they were. Those of us who were at the Delhi University in the late 1960s well recall how during the annual election to the Delhi University Students’ Union, rival parties used to herd respective supreme councillors from various colleges and put them up in luxury resorts in Mussorrie or Shimla—only to lug them back on the day of the polling for what was then an indirect election for various posts. The Congress Party’s student wing had better resources then and inevitably it carried the day on the back of all that free wining and dining. Since then, the DUSU office-bearers have come to be elected directly through a popular vote.
NOTHING WORKED FOR SIDDHA
How desperate was -Siddaramaiah to incite anti-Hindi, anti-North feelings ahead of the Karnataka poll that the Bengaluru cricket authorities were forced to black out the name of the metropolis written in Hindi from the stadium!
If you watch the on-going IPL matches, you will notice that Bengaluru is written boldly both in English and Kannada, with the name in Hindi missing this season. And coming from a -politician who was a follower of Lohia, an ardent champion of Hindi, this desperation to win election by dividing people was indeed extraordinary.