By Goutam Shankar Das
Gone are the days of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Opposition Leader Ram Manohar Lohia who were sworn enemies inside the Parliament but very good friends outside the walls of the set of national power. Dhiren Bagchi, popularly known as Danida, is well past his mid eighties, and this correspondent caught up with him for his views on political trends during the ‘then’ times.
He said ruminating, “Yes, those were the times when democracy was in full flow. Both, Nehru and Lohia underlined the meaning of the treasury benches and that of the opposition. The Opposition served its purpose that of a watch dog, pouncing on proposed decisions that could harm the country. The ruling benches accepted the Opposition’s contention if the logic was correct. The Opposition did not come in the way of correct policies. If needed, they supported them (policies). But today, we send jokers to Parliament who try to retain power or who try to grab power for personal gains with promises intended to take countrymen for a ride.”
Today’s political trends are in painfully sharp contrast, in spite of the now famous Rahul Hug and Wink. Political propaganda speeches are now marked by personal attacks and jibes with all senses of minimum decency thrown to the winds. Be it Modiji, Amit Shah, or mostly nonsense Sambit Patra of the ruling BJP or Rahul Gandhi and his stooges, pre election rallies are marked by such attacks that send street urchins scurrying to their ghetto schools for ‘re-enlightenment.’
Every step taken by the ruling government to eradicate woes of the masses is met with stiff, illogical or habitual opposition by members of the ‘Grand Alliance’ led by cheer leader and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The moves are criticized inside and outside the great Delhi Dome which has any way now become a mental asylum bereft of norms and discipline; the Opposition unity in making democracy a big joke is in full play with frantically defeated Speakers of both Houses resorting to adjournment motions.
What are these politicians with the hopes of millions of voters trying to do? Well, it is evident that all promises are cast in the backburners with one sole objective of grabbing power at any cost and that ‘any cost’ means playing with the hopes of a people who are getting more disillusioned by opposition antics.
The Grand Alliance constitutes wagon hoppers who have been going hammer and tongs at each other at regional and state levels before emerging into the national scenario to join hands to oust the BJP led government and grab power which may be a bold dream that might not come true at the end of the day. The cracks on the GA wall would sooner than later become perceivable when the leaders, in case of its still abstract win, would try to decipher a candidate for the Prime Minister’s chair which will initiate heartburns in many links. Then there are other important posts like those of the Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, Finance Minister through down the line of ministers. The bickering will ultimately lead to a fiasco followed by another general election at the cost of public money (again).
Narendra Modi has been accused of boasting and self propagation whenever he has reeled off the list of good, constructive and, above all, tangible work done through his tenure at the helm. Most of the promises made in the election manifesto have seen ground reality. Of course, the demonetization move and introduction of GST continue to be debatable as also the SC cleared Rafale Deal.
But it is clear that the Grand Alliance actually does not have any agenda so to speak. The GA and its leaders, for the time being, have given up squabbling among themselves and are now concentrating on criticizing the government for every move that they failed to suppress within the Parliament. The policies adopted have proved to be in national interest and thus, what is the point in cribbing against these moves? Are they not exposing their wrong ends? Are they not making asses of themselves? Are the voters really that gullible? Dismayed perhaps.
All time is not yet lost. It would be better for the ruling parties and the GA leaders to talk of objectives for better India marked with all round development intents rather than spitting personal fire and making the spirit of democratic elections a spoof from the berserk monkey world where sharing and caring has never been easy.