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THE WAR WITHIN

A father determined to sulk, complicate and antagonize a party leadership to ensure his candidature even though he is past retirement age can only jeopardize the political prospects of his son and heir. Why on earth would one generation want to do this to another? What ‘principle’ is being questioned here? Neither has the father come out to wholly oppose the new leaders in his party, nor has he explained what happened within the party that prompted him to become a rebel at this late stage in his career. If the ‘father’ is ideologically opposed to the new avatar of his party, surely he should lead the charge whatever the end result? Every public comment of his smacks of attempts to hedge his bets, hoping that the party would succumb to his pressure tactics. The drama now verges on being a farce. It has compelled the son to go on ‘sick leave’. What else could he have done in the final act of the play with his political future at stake or at least in a kind of limbo?

Then there are those who are fleeing from various political dispensations to join what they assume is a rising national power. A senior journalist has said quite emphatically that his new leader is the only person who can restore India and rescue it from the complete breakdown of governance and administration. He has made his position and allegiance quite clear, and has every right to change his mind on fundamental issues.

Others who cannot get tickets from their parties are trying any other outfit that will welcome and accommodate them. These are the opportunists. However, all of them seem to have one thing in common — a desire to be on the seats of power at the Centre regardless of which constituency and people they represent. They are mere pawns on the chessboard. These leaders are not committed to democratic politics in this dynamic sub-continent.

Pampered lot

This kind of opportunism that defies political ethics is both shameful and frightening. For a reporter watching the scene unfold, these sub-plots provide comic relief. None quite knows what India will decide at the hustings. The only clear signal is that change is imminent this time round. Sadly, the battle is going to be one-sided. A predictable Congress, lacking fresh ideas or action that can grab the eyeballs in rural and urban India, is lagging behind on all counts. The only thing that can save the Congress from a debacle is the possibility of votes being cast on the grounds of caste and community. These social fissures, which have been encouraged by politicians over the years, have led to the creation of vote-banks.

Chances are that those old equations would not dominate this election, leaving the Grand Old Party in a spot of bother. Over the past six decades, political parties have misused the diversity of India that was finely woven into its fabric. The diversity — the true strength of this nation — has been weakened by blocking out enlightened thought and action. The intent has been to make one lot confront the other and divide the country and its people to stay on in power.

Here is a thought — if every member of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is stripped of the perks and privileges, like free palatial accommodation in New Delhi, and given small apartments with an attached bathroom and kitchenette only for the time they are in the capital to attend Parliament sessions, we might end up getting true representatives who are committed to their constituencies and to delivering the goods and the services that India is crying out for. Pampering these men and women with subsidies has corrupted their minds and souls and destroyed the fabric of India. It is time to begin India’s tryst with destiny in earnest.