Politics in the Time of Distrust
What’s happening to our national parties? Are they fast reducing to mere launch boards for ambitious politicians who have scant regard for discipline and are distrustful forever of their peers and rivals? What drives these men and women? Lust for power or passion to serve the country and its people?
The questions I’ve raised lack novelty. They are as old as the Himalayas. So are the answers to these posers. But the issue needs to be debated de novo. There are rumblings not just within the Congress and the BJP. Even the usually disciplined CPI-M is plagued by factionalism.
If ministers are at war on the government side, pretenders to the throne are slugging it out in the saffron parivar. On the Left of the political spectrum, the scramble, from all that I can make out, is for the leftovers. How else can one decipher dissensions post electoral disaster in Marxist camps in West Bengal and Kerala?
One can understand the stampede for power in the BJP. Rightly or wrongly, the party smells a comeback opportunity in the UPA’s cesspool of scams. But the Leftists are nowhere near or around the Raisina Hills.
Either they hang together or will be hanged separately. The danger of that happening in Mamata Di’s West Bengal is greater than in Kerala where factionalism has so plagued the party that a section owing allegiance to VS Achutanandan (pitted against Prakash Karat acolyte Pinarayi Vijayan) joined the CPI in Trichur district.
Things might somewhat improve in the Congress now that Sonia Gandhi’s back after a surgery abroad. In her absence, the ruling party was like a waist belt without a buckle, unable to hold up its trousers. But the perceptional crisis could turn fatal if Courts hearing graft cases catch some of its leading functionaries with their pants down.
Premature though, the most fascinating battle for power is within the BJP. Narendra Modi stole L K Advani’s thunder twice in less than a month— first by undertaking a fast after Advani’s decision to go on a rath yatra and later by coinciding Sanjiv Bhatt’s arrest with the BJP national executive he skipped besides B S Yeddyurappa in Delhi. The result: the focus wasn’t as much on corruption as on Modi and the 2002 riots he often uses to consolidate his communal base within Gujarat.
On couldn’t disagree with Arun Jaitley that his party needn’t destabilize the UPA government that’s under the weight of its own contradictions. The Manmohan Singh regime is failing yet the question remains whether the BJP is up and about? It can’t easily make people believe that its three MPs in the cash for vote scam were whistleblowers but Bhatt isn’t.
Politically weakest though of the three, the Left can claim some moral high ground in the fight against corruption. Not the Congress and the BJP. No matter when they happen. I’d wager on a hung parliament after the next polls.