Foul play

A higher moral ground can turn out to be slippery terrain even for those speaking from the pulpit. While delivering his resignation speech, the former chief minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa — his reign, on this occasion, lasted three days — launched a scathing attack on the Congress, accusing it of conspiring against democracy. The Bharatiya Janata Party leader was perhaps alluding to the Congress's strategy of entering into a post-poll alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) to keep the BJP - the party with the highest number of seats in Karnataka — out of power. Mr Yeddyurappa's grouse is understandable. Losing the coveted crown to an Opposition that has paid the BJP back in its own coin can be a bitter pill to swallow. In Mr Yeddyurappa's opinion, the Congress-JD(S) coalition lacks moral uprightness because the 'opportunistic' alliance has subverted the popular mandate. Glossing over inconvenient truths comes easily to public representatives. In Bihar, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal had emerged as the largest party in the polls, an eager BJP did not mind joining hands with the Janata Dal (United) to usurp the throne from the Grand Alliance. This, in BJP parlance, is Chanakyaneeti, an aggressive, immoral strategy that has helped it form governments in states where it did not have the requisite strength. Manipur, Goa and Meghalaya — the BJP won two seats here — are examples. Much of New India is now Opposition-mukt, and the credit for that must go to the BJP's willingness to prioritize foul over fair according to the need of the hour. Poaching opponents by promising perks and rank is the BJP's preferred method to make up for the shortfall in numbers. An unusually resolute Opposition threw a spanner in the BJP's works in Karnataka. Pliant governors — their conduct often makes them appear as political appointees — can also be trusted to do their bit. The Supreme Court's timely intervention neutralized the gubernatorial design in Karnataka.

This is not to suggest that the Congress's hands are clean. The party can claim credit for dismissing elected dispensations — most notably in Kerala and Kashmir — in the past. The lust for power has sullied the spirit of Indian democracy time and again. The passivity of the electorate encourages such transgressions. The public inertia reflects the growing cynicism regarding the moral fibre of politicians. Mr Yeddyurappa — who is alleged to have coaxed a rival to switch sides — is not exempt from the scorn.


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