A gentleman met a beautiful lady and invited her to bed. She gave him one tight slap. And angrily asked: “how dare you take me for a prostitute’. Not to be browbeaten, the man stubbornly persisted: “I will give you a million dollars if you agree to sleep with me”. Replied the lady: “Now you are talking”. Asserted the man: “Since we have established what you are, we are only haggling over the price”. Politically translated, it underscores the ongoing maelstrom in the run-up to the biennial Rajya Sabha polls Friday. Whereby, the Aya Ram’s and Gaya Ram’s are all rolled into one. Honey, it’s all about the money!
Of the 55 Upper House seats, 37 followed a pre-determined script and of the 18 up for grabs, four from Gujarat and three each from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have become a theatre of salacious political play. Take Gujarat. It is a repeat the 2017 battle royale by BJP then President Amit Shah to ensure defeat of Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary Ahmed Patel wherein 6 Congress MLAs had resigned and nine others did not vote for Patel. It’s another matter that Patel scrapped through due to a lapse by a BJP MLA.
Today, both Parties were set to elect two each but with 8 Congress MLAs quitting, the Party’s tally in the Assembly is down from 73 to 65 but it needs 68 first preferential votes for two candidates while the BJP has 103 MLAs and has fielded three candidates. Applying the same logic as 2017, this makes election of one of the two Congress candidates suspect.
In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress till yesterday was confidant of winning two of the three seats, but is jittery as the BJP has fielded two candidates instead of one which it was sure of winning. Resulting in a slugfest with the Party accusing the Hindutva Brigade of trying to engineer defections by using money power. To safeguard its turf, it has pocketed its MLAs to a resort along-with 20 more from Gujarat.
In Madhya Pradesh, 22 Congress MLAs who resigned in March led to the BJP returning to power. It now hopes to win two of the three Rajya Sabha seats even as the Congress has fielded two candidates.
At the outset, I am least surprised and really don’t understand what the brouhaha is about as come elections our netagan are past masters at showing their girgit true colours throwing all public decency and decorum to the winds! After all, polls are all about badla and protecting personal and Party izzat wherein immunity acts as an implicit sanction for more of the same.
Worse, once you start peeling off our netagan’s mask one comes face to face with the naked truth. Wherein every Party and its leaders have perfected the art of beguiling its hum zulfs and dushmans with aplomb. More incredible is the whopping monies being spent on this dazzling razzmatazz.
Bringing things to such a pass one doesn’t know whether a leader is a rajnetik virodhi ya jaani dushman? In the last few days, our netagan have once again conclusively proved that winning at all cost is the new normal of political morality and power the most luscious mistress to be loved, raped and conquered at all costs. Along with the kursi and paisa that comes along. Exposing that money and power is the glue that makes incongruent leaders bandy together.
Consequently, in a winner-takes-it-all scenario, ideology, ‘meeting of minds’ or principles has been wantonly dumped. It has little to do with niti, but all about raj-niti at its crassest worst with clinical precision devoid of any pretensions where the aaya ram gaya ram culture is all pervasive and morality and ethics old hat. Worse, even the faint wisp of demeanor has been discarded with the devil taking the hindmost!
Raising a moot point: Does this not tantamount to cheating the electorate? Forget shame and infamy what is indigestible is that our politicos don’t care a damn about doing so. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
True, one can dismiss this as a natural by-product of power politics. Distressingly in this electoral jor-tor, for the aam aadmi choosing a candidate for the Assembly has little to do with voting for defined policies and issues. It is all about making the best of a bad bargain. Resulting in a wide disconnect between the aam janta and the netagan. Crippled as the polity is in fashioning a democratic model that is inclusive of the aam aadmi.
Brutally underscored by ex Election Commissioner Rawat, who lamented the decline, “poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of state machinery for intimidation etc. are all commended as resourcefulness. The winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also possible criminality” , he added.
An example, Maharashtra. Who could have imagined that Hindutva BJP and Shiv Sena which fould the Assembly polls together would split and the Sena would align with ‘arch enemy’ Congress and NCP to form the Government to the strains of Hum Sath Sath Hain!. How does someone who was communal yesterday become secular today?
Sadly, no Party and its netas talk about their vision and plans to propel the country forward. Neither are they worried about selecting the right candidates on the basis of their character, integrity, honesty et al. It is all about making the best of a bad bargain. Wherein caste, class, creed, criminal and communal paradigms will decide how votes are cast. Along with loud and abusive procrastination that catch the eyeballs. Win-ability not acceptance holds the key. All want the Taj or to be Kingmaker. Whatever the means.
Alas, with each passing year the character and quality of the Rajya Sabha is sharply deteriorating. Personal loyalty to the leader, monetary considerations and political connections get precedence over competence and experience. Whereby, the House has failed to evolve a distinct role for itself as the torch bearer of the State’s concerns and is functioning more and more as a parallel (and competing) political chamber to the Lok Sabha. Often enough shouting has replaced serious debate.
Clearly, the Rajya Sabha is seeing diminishing returns role. The States’ voice has got lost in the din of the power brokers who strut about like peacocks in the House kaleidoscope. Today, we have MPs enjoying four-six terms of six years each in the Rajya Sabha without ever fighting an elections to either State Assembly or the Lok Sabha.
What next? Where do we go from here? No longer can we merely shrug our shoulders and dismiss it as political kalyug. The Rajya Sabha could still be made to play a more useful role. JP strongly favoured a Partyless Council whereby only those who had served one stint in the State Assembly or Lok Sabha and no more than two terms should be made MP. All in all, if this ‘trophyism’ and scoring brownie points continues be prepared to shed tears for the Rajya Sabha
Our polity needs to dump its ongoing political nautanki and desist from employing their individual meanness in the name of public good. They need to re-think their priorities and desist from destructive mindlessness. Our democracy needs urgent course correction and corrective action. Wherein the Rajya Sabha narrative have sounded a warning bell, politics should no longer be the last refuge of a scoundrel. Remember, nothing costs a nation more than cheap politicians!
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