A cardinal principle of parliamentary democracy stipulates that “while the Opposition must have its say, the Government should have its way”. The Bharatiya Janata Party has no use for this adage. And it will pay a price for this. Delirious with its own boisterous performance, it insists it would rather risk majestic isolation than let Parliament perform its institutional duties. What hubris! Unthinkingly, the BJP has relapsed into its Jan Sanghi habits.
Let us go back a bit.
The last time the BJP came anywhere near garnering for itself a semblance of a national mandate was in 1999 when it had Atal Behari Vajpayee as its prime ministerial mascot and had a Kargil victory under its belt.
It is nothing short of a tragedy that this party’s leadership remains so uninterested in remembering why it was voted to power twice, first in 1998 and again in 1999. Nor is its leadership willing to ponder why it was voted out of power in 2004, and, again, why its claims to national mantle were spurned by the electorate in 2009, despite the tempting offer of prime ministerial pretender Lal Krishna Advani on tap.
Its obduracy about not trying to understand the reasons for the 2004 rejection made the BJP disrupt session after session; a preening Advani began preparing himself to take over as prime minister in 2009 as a matter of entitlement; he even went to Pakistan to reinterpret Mohammed Ali Jinnah and was promptly cut to size in his own party. And, when voters got the chance, they rejected the faux Iron Man and instead renewed their confidence in the ‘weak sardar’.
Though himself a product of the Jan Sangh school of narrow nationalism and even narrower politics, Atal Behari Vajpayee presciently gauged the requirements of a changed country in a globalised economy. He understood clearly that the new India was not interested in sorting out medieval animosities so central to the Sangh parivar’s catechism. Despite all the rhetoric of deshbakhti and protestations of shakti, he realised that the primary task of governance was social harmony, economic growth and peace with our neighbours. All through his six years as PM, he had to slug it out with the Jan Sanghi mindset in his own backyard and Advani’s prime ministerial ambitions. While he could largely put Advani in his place, Vajpayee eventually lost the battle in Gujarat. He left it too late in the day to make amends by seeking a rapprochement with General Musharraf in Islamabad in early 2004. While he managed to impress the country with his moderate approach to institutions of constitutional governance, he had to be voted out because he had failed to convince the majority that he could be trusted to safeguard our minorities and our social harmony.
The BJP today is overcrowded with prime ministerial aspirants. But these pretenders have yet to imbibe that those who seek to rule in Delhi have to demonstrate a stamina for prudence and gravitas. The country will not be too keen to entrust the New Delhi gaddi to those who glibly talk of “mota maal” or dismiss Hamid Ansari as lacking the “stature” to be our president.
Curiously enough, even after eight years the BJP remains untutored as to why it has been rejected twice by the national electorate, though the same voters have been willing to vote it back in various states in assembly elections. Because of their failure to draw the appropriate lessons from 1999 victory and from its 2004 and 2009 defeats, BJP leaders have once again talked themselves into a state of such excitement that they are inviting one more rebuff from the electorate.
After all, thinking citizens do realise that there is something terribly wrong with the way our ‘economic reforms’ processes have virtually degenerated into rampant crony capitalism; with dismay they watch how dubious ‘entrepreneurs’ have overnight become billionaires on thin assets, thinner credibility and competence and thinnest productivity. The Anna-fied electorate is looking for an honest answer to this problem: how to tame our rampant business houses into recognising and respecting the rules of a lawful society. The BJP is yet to enlighten the country that it has a different vision of how our economic aspirations will be achieved.
Instead, it has relapsed into its Jan Sanghi reflexes. All that the country has heard so far is that somehow the BJP is a party of more honest, better deshbhakts than in any other stable. This claim is hardly sustainable. Its state governments’ performance in Gujarat and Karnataka suffer from abominable aberrations and quasi-criminalities. The country is in no mood to give another bunch of political operators its turn at milking the system. The BJP is not entitled to any moral brownie points. It neither has a JP nor a Morarji Desai, nor even an Acharya Kriplani, who can help persuade the country to take seriously the party’s promise of closing the ethical deficit in our governance.
Nor can the country take kindly to any one group of leaders, however energetic and righteous its pretensions, that deliberately seeks to de-institutionalise Parliament. The old Jan Sangh penchant for working the streets to try to overturn the electoral mandates is no longer an attractive democratic methodology. It is against India’s civilisational grain. P.N. Haksar reminded us that “the parliamentarians have to play the game according to the rules of the game, not by mere shouting. You stand up and argue your case—what is called vad-vivad is a sacred tradition in India. The great Shankara in the eighth century went all over India carrying out vad-vivad and he was not armed with any lethal weapons. So did Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru in my own lifetime.”
BJP leaders do not even want to remember that the country had frowned and eventually punished the Congress when Sonia Gandhi had teamed up with Jayalalitha and Subramanian Swamy in a futile endeavour to unseat the 1998 Vajpayee government. Today’s India craves constitutional equilibrium and institutional discipline.
India has changed even more dramatically since 2004, when the country turned its back on these self-proclaimed deshbakhts. If the BJP wants to curry favour with the India of 2014, it cannot possibly hope to do so with the faces and ideas and orientations that were nurtured way back in the Jan Sangh days. India has outgrown those times, but the BJP remains sadly mired in its own outdated habits.
Apropos Harish Khare’s column The Folly of Believing Your Own Hyperbole (Sept 10), if Sushma Swaraj says “mota maal” or calls someone “lacking in stature”, how does it become abusive or wrong? In Britain, the PM has been called a “one-eyed twit” and photographs of him have sometimes been captioned ‘Gordon is a Moron’. If the Congress is believed to have got “mota maal”, why can’t she express the idea?
Avantika Pathak, on e-mail
As a former media advisor to Puppet Singh, Khare has to obviously attack the BJP. He should remember he was once a journalist, and of considerable repute, and not behave like a crony.
Vipul Jani, Toronto
An experienced hack has done a good hatchet job, hacking away at the BJP. The former advisor to the PM should be commended for his unflinching loyalty, if not anything else.
R.K. Singh, Gurgaon
Khare’s piece is an analysis of the Bunch of Jokers in Parliament (BJP)!
Deepak, on e-mail
One reason why Dr Manmohan Singh is deep in the doo-doo is because he had advisors like Khare.
Khare would be better off writing an obituary of the Congress, for his anti-BJP views are all too well-known and people don’t need reminding of that. With so much venom to spew, he hardly qualifies to write sense.
The BJP must realise that no one in this country believes that one set of politicians is any less corrupt than another. It’s unfortunate that in India we are unable to find a visionary politics along with visionary politicians to change the system.
Sampath Kumar, Bangalore
Khare seems to have delusions of still being the flag-bearer of the Congress despite having ceased to be the PM’s media advisor.
N.S. Rajan, Bangalore
Yes, the BJP is shrill in its protests but Khare could well write the same sort of piece criticising the Congress too.
M.K. Saini, Delhi
India will move on, ignoring comments such as Khare’s.
S.S. Nagaraj, Bangalore
Harish Khare’s piece (The Folly of Believing Your Own Hyperbole, Sep 10) reflects all my hopes, fears and anxieties about what’s happening in our ‘democratic’ India.
Congrats Harish Khare, really great and thought provoking. Your article reflects all my hopes, fears and anxieties about happenings in our so called democratic India. I have given up all hope on the two major parties in India -- Congress and BJP. I had written some 14 pieces on various troubling aspects of Indian Democracy (cf. my website: jameskottoor speaking) proving that India is not a functioning democracy at all. The latest proof is that parliament, the heart of democracy has stopped functioning for the last 13 days or better is not allowed to function. The perpetrators who caused this heart attack is BJP alone. This party is crowded with PM aspirants, as you correctly say, but none like a Vajpai among the whole lot. That was why I titled my last article: Election Maraton 2014, Political Alternative Needed, meaning other than Congress and BJP. Both don't deserve another term as both have no respect for constitutional institutions. Thank you Harish, I will pass on your article to everyone of my friends, because it is an eye opener which must be read by every thinking person concerned about our nation.
More than the corruption of the Congress its the wagon trail of hubris ,which can find parallel only in Hindu scriptures,is BJP's claim to fame....Khare is bang-on in estimating the mood of the voters....if the BJP does not want to learn its your problem,I mean by now u would be habituated in eating your words.... .Fools tread where angels dread.....The BJP and its nautankiyas of leaders,have decided to tread...u seem all gung-ho to join the party....we can only wish godspeed..and continue to dread....
Congress party is the perfect example of what Winston Churchill had said.It is strange that a party whose head has little educational credentials is the supreme leader. The so called intellectuals and sophist media is all on the floor for narrow gains. They have enjoyed pelf and patronage for six decades like our petty maharajas of yore but for whose perfidy, India would not have suffered the longest foreign rule in the entire human history.
What are their credentials except opnionated articles for their evening downers?How much they have the understanding of Indian cultural and spiritual ethos and its scriptures?Do they have thorogh grounding in ancient and world history?.A civilisation of thousands of years,eons older than any,is being ripped apart by their one-sided version of psychophants.
Democracy is a game in which rules are the same for all players.Rights follow rules and these should be uniform for all communities and not only for majority.What is stopping them to campaign for a uniform civil code for the true nationalism without which no country can survive for long.SECULARISM is the embedded etho of Indian culture and thought.
The western concept of secularism is opportunistic and fake.They should read and assimilate the history of these geographical areas and countries as also of those religions which promote proselytisation. Are they waiting for someone from Harvard or Stanford for their enlightenment ?
Another journalist on Congi payroll defending most corrupt govt. in the history of India.
Do these so called jounalists (chamcha) have any iota of morality, ethics or shame left in them.
One of the reasons why Manmohan Singh is in such deep doodoo is because of media advisers like Harish Khare. Enuff said!
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