Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Black hole of political etiquette

Pankaj Sharma

9 May 2016

Ad hominem attacks on Sonia Gandhi have reunited the Congress party

My 27 year-long stint in journalism, followed by a decade with the Congress, has told me that its members spend most of their time finding ways to weaken each other instead of strengthening the party. More than the political opponents, they are their own enemies. Despite the presence of such elements, isn’t it a miracle that the Congress party has remained intact two years after it suffered a devastating defeat in the general elections? Moreover, you have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who comes up with new tricks to fulfill his dream of a “Congress-free” India.

 The BJP’s latest attempt includes an attempt to somehow frame party president Sonia Gandhi in the AugustaWestland scam.

But what’s interesting about the Congress is that all the quarreling factions come together whenever they sense any attack on their leadership. Therefore, recent attacks on the Congress leadership have refreshed the bond of unity among Congress party members across the country. Sonia Gandhi has proved herself to be the strongest integrating force within the Congress party, which she has led for the past 18 years. Modi and his political bouncers know this well. Therefore, a strategy to pin the blame on Sonia for the Augusta scam is on the top of their agenda. To achieve their goal, Modi, and his team have prepared a plan to distance themselves from the decisions made during the BJP government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In other words, the current NDA government will not hesitate to criticise the role of Vajpayee’s trusted lieutenants in the Augusta deal.

It is not only the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP that harbor hopes for a Congress-free India. For more than four decades, there are other forces other that have been working on a similar design. Even a novice can comprehend the dynamics of international conspiracies that resulted in the assignations of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. At any given time, a political party has a nucleus around which the whole structure of the organisation stands. It does not require a rocket scientist to understand that the amount of damage to this nucleus directly translates into the weakening of a particular political party.

It’s not unique to Indian politics that a political party is perceived through its central face. Vajpayee’s credibility was in direct relation to the strength or weakness of the BJP as an organisation. It is the same with Narendra Modi now. Many regional parties are also perceived through the same equation. Any step towards freeing India from the clutches of any party would include getting rid of its central face. I’m not sure if one could achieve a BJP-free India by getting rid Modi’s leadership, but it could certainly be a major step. Similarly, if someone wants to work on his dream of a Congress-free India, he needs to deface Sonia Gandhi’s public image first.

Should ruling parties be given a free hand to ruin the political ideologies of others in a democracy? Sonia Gandhi did portend of dangerous times for Indian democracy while addressing the “Save Democracy March” at Jantar-Mantar last Friday. “People of India know how to answer high and mighty when all the limits of injustice are crossed,” she thundered. The real power of the Congress lies in its ability to bounce back after attacks from the outside, despite the fact that saboteurs exist within all levels of the party. Knowing this well, Sonia appealed to the party cadre to “reach out to every corner and expose the ugly designs of the ruling clan”.

Sonia struck a chord with millions of Congress workers when she spoke of her life-long struggle in politics. “We want to make it clear that they can keep trying to destroy democracy, but we will never let their dangerous intentions succeed,” she said. “They can keep taking steps to defame us, but we won’t bow down before the threats”.

In the past two years, political etiquette in this country has been pushed to the last rows. Ignoring the basic science of living in a democratic political system by keeping all ethics at bay will ultimately push India into the black hole of public administration. The mannerisms of any ruling party decide the shape of democracy, public life, and social response. 

To provide good quality non-partisan governance, one has to excuse himself from the presence of shallow and callow minded individuals. I think it’s high time the Prime Minister re-orient his focus on strengthening the fabric of democratic values, development, economic growth and dream of a pettiness-free India. India knows about the 56 inches chest Narendra Bhai. But let the country realise that you have an equally large heart too in it.

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