SEVENTY YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE AND DEMOCRACY SHOULD HAVE TAUGHT INDIA one of the most basic axioms of politics — political rivalry is NOT enmity.
It is said there are no permanent enemies in politics. Those who criticised a party’s policies vehemently today may join it tomorrow. Rivals in one election can be partners in the other. Once a Shiv Sena leader, Sanjay Nirupam now heads the Congress party in Mumbai. Former Uttar Pradesh(UP) Congress president, Rita Bahuguna-Joshi, is now in BJP. There are scores of examples.
However much politicians criticise each other, on issues of national importance there should be a bipartisan stand, total agreement and even cooperation. When Indira Gandhi liberated Bengali-speaking Bangladesh from the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan, Atal Behari Vajypayee of opposition Jana Sangh (now BJP) praised her as an incarnation of Durga – a goddess and embodiment of power or Shakti. Later she jailed him.
The Congress, which ruled the country for over half a century, always had factions and rivalry between leaders. In UP of 1960s Chandra Bhanu Gupta and Kamalapati Tripathi, both chief minsters once and always in the race for the post, were arch rivals. When a senior leader of the Tripathi faction died, Gupta, who was not even informed, rushed to his house, made all the funeral arrangements, chided his son for not telling him and declared “Yes, we were rivals, but not enemies.”
As long as that spirit existed there were ethical politics in India, as the Congress, being the oldest party, set the culture of Indian politics. The party soon forgot the ethics, as seen in the unholy haste with which former Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao’s body was rushed to Hyderabad and left half-burnt at the crematorium there, and the refusal to give him credit for the liberalisation of Indian economy.
Considering a rival party leader an enemy is a sign of political immaturity. Rahul Gandhi, who literally runs the party, just as Sanjay Gandhi did before he died in an aircrash, has shown lack of maturity by treating Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an enemy, assailing even good policies and unleashing a tirade of hatred towards him. No wonder so many ‘Pappu jokes’ were created about him.
His henchman Mani Shankar Aiyar goes to Pakistan and asks that enemy country to remove Modi from power. He then has a pow wow with Kashmir separatist leaders. Other obedient supporters of the dynasty attack every action of the government, the efforts to curb black money, the drive for cleanliness and even the ‘surgical strikes’ to control terrorism.
They and their fellow-travellers. the Marxist Communist Party, tried to undermine one of India’s major strengths: an apolitical, neutral, Indian Army, for backing the Modi government. It is because of its neutrality that the Army had agreed to Nehru’s ceasefire in Kashmir even though it could have pushed Pakistan back to a weak position had he agreed to their plea for 24 hours to do so. The result is today’s Kashmir problem.
Modi was heckled by them for abandoning the wife he never accepted or lived with, but Indira Gandhi separating from her husband Feroze after begetting two sons was right. Rahul used the latest stand-off between India and China to attack Modi for being courteous to, and sitting on a swing with, the Chinese President Xi.
When reports of Rahul himself visiting the Chinese embassy after the border squirmish came, the party first denied it. When photographs of the visit went viral, he himself confirmed it, calling it a part of his “duty” to keep himself informed about the situation.
Tomorrow the Congress may join hands with and admit into the party Dawood Ibrahim, the mastermind behind the Mumbai terror attacks. Did the BJP not admit into its ranks the former UP and Uttarakhand CM, the octogenarian N. D. Tiwari, who had to resign as governor after a video of his romping on a bed with two naked women in Raj Bhavan leaded out?
This is the new political culture of India.
What information can Rahul get from the Chinese Ambassador but not from the official External Affairs Minister’s briefing to the Opposition? If he wanted the Chinese version, China has been shouting it from rooftops. Or did he want to show that he and his party side with China on the dispute, which was created by his own party government?
The later seemed to be more likely, as it was seen in photographs that came out later. Not just Rahul, performing his “duty” to keep himself informed, but his sister Priyanka, her husband Robert Vadra and her mother-in-law accompanied him on the visit (see photo) .
Was it just another of the self-goals Rahul Gandhi has become famous for? Or did he think all Indians are idiots to believe him?