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May 17, 2009

Page: 4/35

Home > 2009 Issues > May 17, 2009


Death of Ideology; Overtaken by servile flattery

A unique feature of the campaign for the 15th Lok Sabha was the ruling establishment?s explicit unease with confronting national issues. The Congress tried its best to avoid any discussion on the UPA government?s five-year record in office. The entire effort was to focus on trivia. In this, the media?s obsession with the Congress first family proved helpful.

It is early to say how it will play out in the race for capturing the ballot box. But it certainly succeeded in circumventing the real issues. There was a concerted effort to establish that ideology has no place in the politics of the new century. This is surprising. Because only a few months ago the Indian media hailed the restoration of ideology in US Presidential debate by an audaciously articulate Barack Obama.

As a journal committed to uphold ideology in national life we feel deeply pained by the absence of real debate in the weary, long-drawn Indian national election. Even the newspapers that launched expensive, aggressive propaganda to attract voters to the polling booths, write day after day that there were no issues in the election. If that be the real case what is it that will draw voters to the polling booth in a hot May election? There is no inspirational leadership, they complain. But they never get tired of the pulp that they dish out on the Congress first family that believes ruling India is its divine birthright. So the whole 15th Lok Sabha campaign reportage was anchored on the inanities of a blushing young lady, her costume, her husband, brother, her idea of her brother?s priorities and predilections. Their mother was mercifully in the background. The other newsmaker of the UPA being its nominated Prime Minister whom The Economist (April 18, 2009) described as merely a night watchman? ?keeping the seat warm for her (Sonia) son Rahul?. On Rahul, The Economist comment was that he is ?unconvincing? and about his party it said, an ?antiquated dynastic machine?. Intriguingly, even this Economist editorial was found flattering by the family retainers and cited by them as endorsement by a reputed foreign journal during the campaign.

It is in this context that the enthusiasm of the editorial writers for the cavalier remarks of Rahul Gandhi on post-poll options marks a new decline in political standard. If both the opposition and the ruling formation are to kiss and join hands to share power after the poll, why should we elect a new government at all? If politics is all about keeping the same lot of discredited men and women in power, why hold elections? As Sonia Gandhi nominated Manmohan Singh, this privileged set of people will select the new regime. Why ask for a people?s mandate? A learned editor asked on a Times Now television debate, please define to me what is ideology? He was arguing that there was no ideology left in politics.

Only the BJP went to the poll this time in the name of certain specific ideological formulations. The effort now is to defame the BJP and make NDA defunct, by enticing every successful partner into the Congress fold. The game is cynical, desperate and sinister. The logic of the electoral outcome is, if the Congress and its allies who were running the government, are defeated, they should sit in the opposition. Not only the Congress but even its track-II campaigners are unwilling to agree to this simple logic. Anxious of a drubbing in the poll they are already positioning themselves on the plea that ?it is their bounden duty to provide a government to the people?. How graceful and generous?

For this, the Congress will ditch the defeated partners and lap up the successful allies of NDA. In normal political discourse this would have been dismissed as pipe dream or foolish absurdity. In contemporary Indian situation, this however is being projected as Machiavellian realpolitik.

Rahul Gandhi?s bizarre utterances in a press conference last week elicited a wild acclaim in the loyal media. So the sermonising went on the expected format?There are no overarching issues that will sway the entire country. The political parties? pitch for price rise, national security and development are sporadic issues that appeal only to select groups of people, they wrote. How can these issues affect only a few? There are not many serious ideological differences left on the Indian political landscape, they argue. What matters more, in their view, is compatible working styles. The Congress supporters argue that what Rahul Gandhi tried to portray was the indispensability of the Congress in the post-poll scenario, and that he was delivering a body blow to the NDA. His wicked query was, ?Where is the NDA on the ground? It exists only in the BJP?s mind.? Sycophants after all are nothing more than toady, servile flatterers. Let us not get deceived by their platitudes.

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