When several MPs were recently expelled from both houses of Parliament on the basis of television footage of cash-for-question, a precedent was set that could result in a group having a temporary majority in the Lok Sabha using actual and concocted sting operations to drastically reduce the number of Opposition MPs. The root of the problem is the high cost of present-day politics, and laws that act to prevent transparency about the extent and sources of funding. By nullifying the verdict of the electorate and removing representatives of the voters, the effect would be to replace the public verdict as the sole source for the distribution of seats in Parliament between the different political parties. Expectedly, once an influential Congress MP from Goa got snared in another net, the action taken was significantly less severe.
Whether it is the forcible extinction of the people´s verdict by the summary expulsion of MPs without recourse to standard-and constititionally prescribed processes of law-or the passing of the entire Union Budget without even a perfunctory scrutiny, the very sap of the tree of Democracy has begun to be poisoned. The country is heading backwards into 1975, a situation when even the Right to Life and Liberty is not regarded as fundamental and enforceable. If one looks at the way decisions get taken in the Congress Party, there would be no surprise at such a development.
In 1992, the owner of the Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, appointed P.V. Narasimha Rao as the Prime Minister of India. The reason for this was the fact that as a Cabinet Minister, the mild-mannered Rao was careful never to challenge the authority of the proprietors of his party. Even in those first few days of November 1984, when India was shamed by the killing of hundreds of her precious children just because they were Sikhs, ?Home Minister? Rao allowed the actual running of his ministry to be conducted by others closer to the new Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. An individual so willing to accept commands was ideal, as was the fact that Rao was in poor health, and had expressed a desire to step down from his high office after two years, ?when stability got restored?. Thereafter, family loyalist Arjun Singh would presumably take over, leading the party to victory in the following Lok Sabha polls by the combination of populism and demagogy that he is master of. And then would come the turn of the owner herself, who would in 1996 finally occupy the chair once adorned by her mother-in-law, her husband'sgrandfather and her husband himself.
Narasimha Rao had other ideas. Once he ?stabilised? the government by the start of 1994, he made it clear that not merely would he not step down from office, he would lead the party in the next polls. Of course, every consideration would be shown to the family that owned his party. For example, Signor Quattrocchi was enabled to leave the country, unlike Natwar Singh'sson, who is today under daily threat of arrest. However, none of this was enough to slake the fires of vengeance. Mysteriously, a group of Congress leaders who till then had never shown any inclination to challenge the Congress High Command split away and formed a new party. Interestingly, they were frequent visitors to 10 Janpath, even after this desertion. In the 1996 elections, several seats were lost by the Congress Party because of this rebel force, all of whose leaders became prominent subsequently, when the owner took direct charge of her party.
H.D. Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister of India, while a succession of PILs was launched against Narasimha Rao. The decision of the Congress Party to withdraw support from Gowda was placed at the door of Sitaram Kesri. When the then AICC President took this decision, he himself informed me that the reason was that the CBI under Joginder Singh was getting ?too close to the truth in some sensitive cases?. In other words, that he was ordered to withdraw support. True, there was an investigation against him, but this was relatively inconsequential, and Kesri himself knew it. The root of the withdrawal of support lay elsewhere, and thus the charming I.K. Gujral took over. However, despite the herculean efforts of the new PM to ensure that the multifaceted interests of the owner of the Congress Party were protected, he himself was chopped down. The time had come to take direct charge. Unfortunately for India'sluckiest citizen, the BJP took charge in 1998.
The six years of the BJP government were marked by a deference towards the Congress Party. The result was that a refreshed Sonia Gandhi almost became the Prime Minister of India, eventually ceding the post to Manmohan Singh, who has the distinction of always doing what he has been told. Today, externally and internally, the lobbies and individuals that control the agenda of the Congress leadership have full rein over the UPA government. Externally, whether it is China, Pakistan, the US or even Bangladesh, all the concessions they seek are freely given. Internally, forces have been let loose that could, in time, break the unity of India and craft a dictatorship.
Today, the ideology of the Congress Party is no longer that of Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru, it is that of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The man who was given Pakistan on a platter by the British remained a toady all his life, showing the same deference to foreign masters that the ?Manmohan Singh? government is exhibiting. Jinnah sought to separate the Muslims from the rest of India and make them see themselves as a separate people. This is precisely what recent policy pronouncements of the UPA are ensuring. Jinnah ran his party and government as a personal dictatorship, very similar to the management style seen at present in the real source of authority over the UPA government.
Today, India has zero influence in its neighbourhood. In Nepal, it is China that is the new patron. In Sri Lanka, the EU through Norway. In Bangladesh, Pakistan. In Pakistan, the US. All that is keeping the illusion of influence afloat is the excellent work being done by individual Indians, effort that is constantly being subverted by the policies of the UPA. For sometime, there was a question over whether it was Narasimha Rao or Manmohan Singh who was the real architect of the 1992-94 reforms (that year, the political turmoil caused by sabotage from within destroyed Rao'sappetite for further reforms). Looking at the way the Prime Minister is toeing the line taken by the UPA Chairperson, the answer is obvious. Mr Singh is not a leader, he can only be a follower, which is precisely what he is. Tragically, the route being taken can prove calamitious for India. It is leading to dictatorship and a festering anarchy.