“History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.”
—Dr Babasaheb B R Ambedkar (http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd /41I.What%20Congress%20and%20Gandhi%20CHAPTER%20VIII.htm)
When the Winter session of Parliament started on positive note with the Prime Minister himself set the tone of ‘us’ rather than ‘we’ and ‘they’ and opposition parties also got a chance to debate and discuss on perceived intolerance, everyone thought that this will be a fruitful legislative session. Tea diplomacy by the government with the leaders of main opposition party also created positive vibes for the critical bills like GST. And there comes a court order on National Herald case where two top leaders of the grand old party, along with their confidants, are summoned to the court with the charges of cheating, fraud, criminal misappropriation, etc., and Parliament returns to the usual storm. Since then, Congress is trying to play a ‘victim card’ to save the dynastic leadership but in the process damaging the democratic process in three major ways.
Firstly, by putting dynastic interests above legislative business, Congress is spoiling the very soul of democracy and discussion in Parliament. Whatever may be the concerns of the opposition; they can be discussed and debated in the Parliament. Political agitations can take place outside the Parliament. Stalling the parliamentary process just to make an alleged criminal act into a heroic one is against the spirit of democracy.
Secondly, in doing so Congress leadership is also questioning the credibility and independence of our judicial system and investigative agencies. On the one hand claiming to have faith in the legal system and at the same time alleging that the complainant is a member of the ruling party is a dubious political ploy. The complaint was launched in 2012 and the case was due for hearing on the basis of a petition filed by Congress leadership is a fact. Whether Enforcement Directorate or Income Tax have acted in certain cases with due process, then why the Congress is crying foul and in turn hampering the function of democratic institutions.
Most importantly, in an atrocious attempt of cornering the government on a wrong issue, Congress is doing a self-goal. The counter-allegations levelled by Congress spokesperson are neither justifiable nor convincing. In fact, they are strengthening the suspicion that “probity of a legendary National Political Party is under scanner” as observed by the honourable high court. Congress party lost its ground on the larger perception of being a corrupt party and public memory is still fresh on that count. By playing the victimhood card over serious allegations, Congress leadership is only strengthening those perceptions. After experiencing the worst ever debacle in Lok Sabha elections, Congress should rebuild the party on issues and inclusive organisational structure. On the contrary, Congress is giving the impression that Gandhi Dynasty is more important than democracy.
Elections will come and go. Governments will keep changing. The democratic institutions and their credibility have to be preserved. Without which, as Dr Ambedkar said in the conflict between ethics and economics, victory would always be with economics. Perhaps, with media glare and enlightened public opinion, people are not ready to take political leaders grossly compromising on ethics for economics. At least, in the long term political interest of the party, voices within Congress should show the courage to favour democracy over dynasty.