Kahan gaye woh log?
Lal Krishna Advani lamented the other day the absence of somebody like the late V P Singh who could raise the banner of revolt against the Congress leadership from within in this season of scams that makes the alleged Bofors gun deal kickbacks seem the work of a pickpocket!
His remarks to The Indian Express are an admission at once of the principal Opposition’s limitations in acquiring the moral high ground VP attained on being thrown out of the Congress for doing the unthinkable — challenging his parent party on probity in public life. The anti-Congress sentiments that he whipped triggered first the emergence of the Jan Morcha and than its more evolved edition, the National Front.
VP attained political respectability through the companionship of the Left and a mass reach that came with the logistical support of the BJP-RSS. His was a government supported from outside by the political Left and the Right. The politics of Mandal and Kamandal caused its premature downfall spearheaded by none else than Advani, then a much celebrated rath yatri. Unlike in the late 1980s when the country was under the Congress’s single-party rule, it isn’t all that easy today to rally the entire Opposition against the UPA which itself is a multi-party conglomeration. In the intervening years the country witnessed events — Ayodhya in 1992 and Gujarat in 2002— that caused a secular-communal divide that has forever left the saffron parivar suspect in the eyes of the so-called secular forces.
That factor is a major hindrance in the repeat of 1989 that witnessed the combined Opposition quit en masse from the eighth Lok Sabha — albeit in the final stages of its life – over the Bofors issue. Coupled with it is the glut of smeared reputations across the political spectrum that leaves the choice between lesser and bigger instances of graft or loot of public money.
Ranging from the Congress to the BJP to regional parties such as the DMK, AIADMK, the RJD and the Samajwadi Party, almost every party has had its share of sleaze — big and small. Our multi-party system is so much at the mercy of unscrupulous corporate entities — for funding and other kind of logistics — that cronyism and questionable patronage are the order of the day.
Collude or get cast aside. The message gets reinforced with each election, change of government and ministers. India needs a Jayaprakash Narayan or a VP to mobilize people against the pernicious system. None fits the bill in the obtaining crowd of power hungry politicos.