NaMo and His (at Others’ cost) Merry Men

NaMo and Amit Shah’s road map to ‘400 par’ appears dotted by ‘tadi par’s! Why this mad scramble to cross 400? /

The Indian Express has reported that since 2014 top leaders charged with corruption from many parties have joined the BJP. Their number is 25 and action against them has either slowed down or stopped. BJP leaders who promised to put all these behind bars in the last poll now hug them like lost brethren! I am worried, what will be the character of the BJP-NDA team which profoundly claims to govern for next five years?

If you want to meet Devil’s Advocates we have two: NaMo and Amit Shah. They are patriots incomparable and want to ensure political stability after the impending LS elections. So they want absolute majority for BJP and ‘400 par’ NDA members in the LS. This will bring peace and prosperity and will also open the gates wide for a ’review’ of the Constitution. Rapid economic growth is impossible without communal harmony. The minority has been under long awaited ‘shock treatment’ which NaMo was brave and bold enough to administer by ending triple talaq and the privileged state of Jammu and Kashmir and creating CAA for the north eastern part/s of the country where infiltration has been (it is believed/alleged) a routine all through the Congress reign. NaMo proclaims day in and day out that the INDIA jugad thinks of the country in pieces and reeks of dynastic and divisive elements and method/s. India, therefore, can become a 5tr dollar economy only under a strong nationwide political party (combination sic NDA) and an all-powerful charismatic leader (sic NaMo) at the helm.

Faultless logic and political realism, on the face of it: noble intentions awaiting the mandate of the citizens who are the flesh and blood of the largest democracy mankind has known. Now let us take a look at the strategy and method.

As I have said in this column earlier the strategy is three-pronged. It starts with cutting down the RSS element in the BJP by (occasionally) respectful marginalisation of those who graduated into BJP through RSS cadres. Old stalwarts have been remaindered all over the country and this has been covered up by inviting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to the installation of Ram Lalla and listening to him with closed ears. So, the austere and selfless are replaced by the showy and ambitious.

The second step is to keep looking around with a net at other political parties. This net can be the fisherman’s or bird/butterfly catcher’s. The electoral machine works in such a way that the room at the top is pitiably less than the base. No political party can accommodate ambitions of all its loyal workers and disgruntled sincere workers are there for the asking. Keep an eye on them and when their frustration reaches unbearable levels just make a friendly gesture. Show that your doors and arms are open. The rest is (willingly) taken care of by the new entrant who has taken it hook, line and sinker. Such ambitious political workers are good for at least one election.

The first two methods can be summarised as ‘take many’. They show some element of decency. Now let me touch upon the third (I have to point out that my knowledge of this is distant and conjectural!) which is ‘take any’: the more corrupt and shamed the better!

This 3rd technique is drastic and diabolic: look for the corrupt politicians with popular backing and money.  Bait them through the state machinery. If they have a criminal history let the police hound them. If they have amassed disproportionate financial resources set the ED after them. After they buckle (which they generally do) offer a crumb of power if they are still efficient and people like them. If not, ask them to join wholeheartedly and await eventual compensation: nomination at an election, chairmanship of some government body or governorship of a state like we saw in Maharashtra recently.

This strategy works 100 per cent. The dedicated and clean are without tongue or teeth and do not shout or bite back. The disgruntled but (to some extent) decent save the day for you. The third lot are under lifelong obligation and shall bow to the high command and spend their resources willingly to win favour. The supreme grace of this modus operandi is that all cost in borne by the inductee: no strain on NaMo or Shaha’s purses.

This may appear just a case on paper. But it is not. Look at the country and the state.

The Indian Express has reported that since 2014 top leaders charged with corruption from many parties have joined the BJP. Their number is 25 and action against them has either slowed down or stopped. Party wise break up is: Congress 10; 4 each from NCP and Shiv Sena; 3 from Trin Mool Congress; 2 from Telugu Desam and one each from SP and YSR Congress.

Lok Satta, a Marathi daily of the Express group has published a list of over a dozen politicians from the state who belonged to Congress, NCP, Sena. Some of them are in the state cabinet already and are causing tremendous embarrassment to the CM and his two deputies. Some have been behind bars too. One dip in the BJP-NDA marsh/ pond and all their recorded sins are forgotten: at least temporarily. BJP leaders who promised to put all these behind bars in the last poll now hug them like lost brethren!

If this is NaMo and Shah’s road map to ‘400 par’ then I expect at least half of them to be confirmed ‘tadi par’s!

NaMo Bhai, this is less by the hook (which is questionable in itself) and more by the crook. Why are you so desperate to induct the tainted, tarnished, suspicious, censured, jailed politicians to your party? Why this mad scramble to cross 400?  And if you do cross it (I pray you do not,) what will be the character of your team which is supposed to govern for next five years? Dear NaMo Bhai this is just not cricket; you are not to blame as your knowledge of that sport is limited. Go to John Major, ex UK PM and learn…

Is the situation beyond redemption? My faith in Democracy, the Beloved Republic, is not shattered but badly shaken by the blatant chase for power going on at present. It was shaken (and later restored) by the enforcement of Emergency during 1975-77 by Indira; now NaMo has brought the wheel full circle and has shaken it to the roots.

Read Also: Vinay Hardikar's column for Kartavya Sadhana - Hard(ikar) Talk

We have to function on two fronts. We have to convince our voters that absolute power corrupts absolutely and they are wrong in setting ethical considerations aside and voting for efficient (who deliver) but corrupt politicians. For that we have to study the voters’ psyche deeply and then make appeals to their conscience instead of bombarding them with idealistic sermons on Democracy! We have to solve this deadlock of people wanting clean governance and yet electing the corrupt while claiming that they are helpless because the species of the clean politician is fast getting extinct. Like our voters, at least in the North, a lesson to the culprits of emergency in 1977 we have to implore the voters not to vote for just the man but also to judge him on his political record.

The second front is constitutional. NaMo and Co might want to review it for their own agenda but I do feel that the Constitution needs to be reviewed to empower the electorate to evaluate the performance of the representative and punish/reward them accordingly. The present rules and regulations are all applicable only before votes are cast. There is no way to monitor the representatives during their term. They become sort of ‘Untouchables’! Even to move the law against them is a very tedious process: forget the right to complain, question and recall. Worse still, the Constitution does not recognise party (ideological?) adherence/loyalty as a pre-condition to seek another mandate. Politicians come and go between parties according to chances of winning and then getting share in power. They might swear by the people round the clock but their motives are totally personal. Their supporters too at times, encourage their unscrupulous chase of power. Unless we add to the Constitution voter empowering clauses the politicians will continue to come and go as they like.

We also need to address the role of money in politics in general and during elections in particular. All this will be dealt with in the next instalment.

Right now, we need to check our garrulous political Robin Hood and our unscrupulous Little John! Their merry making might prove too expensive for the country!

- Vinay Hardikar 
(The writer has been working in the public sphere of Maharashtra for the last five decades. His versatile personality has several dimensions, but the primary ones remain to be that of an established writer, journalist, editor, critic, activist, and teacher.)

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A voice crying in the wilderness. Let the wisdom dawn upon people of Republic. Sooner the better. I fully appreciate this article.

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