On the day that the Congress party’s government in Rajasthan nearly fell last week, a ‘local lockdown’ began in the rural district in which I have been locked down since March 24. In these four months things have gone from bad to worse. In March there were no Covid-19 cases. Now there are many. The economic problems have grown. Small businesses have closed, people who survived on daily wages have lost their jobs, children without the luxury of online tuition fear that they could lose a year of their education. There is a deepening sense of desperation and dread.
So, on a day of heavy rain, bad news about Covid-19 and bad news from Ladakh about the Chinese not exactly ‘disengaging’, when news came of political instability in Rajasthan, I felt real disgust. Whoever the politicians are who are responsible for trying to bring down a major state government in such an awful time, they are clearly men who have no sense of patriotism, honour or duty. Since calling people ‘anti-national’ is so fashionable these days, let me add that the whole lot fall into this category. Shame on them! If this was not a topical column I would not bother writing about them. Alas, I have no choice.
It is now becoming increasingly obvious that Sachin Pilot allowed his ambition to get the better of his good sense or he would have realised from the start that Vasundhara Raje would make it impossible for him to join the BJP. If he believed he could form his own party and become chief minister with outside support from the BJP, his judgement must be impaired. When he lost his job as deputy chief minister and ended up in limbo, he tried to claim that he would never join the BJP. He said there was a malicious campaign to smear his fair name. Nobody with minimum political sense would believe this.
His rebellion has the BJP’s grubby fingerprints smeared all over it. How does he explain the security his flock was provided by the BJP chief minister of Haryana? How does he explain his choice of lawyers? Both the celebrated lawyers who are defending him and his band of rebels have worked for BJP governments in the highest legal post. This does not make them partisans instead of professionals but it is no surprise that questions are being asked.
Nobody has come out of this squalid saga looking good. The BJP looks like a political party that is so greedy for power that it would risk creating political instability in a major state at a time when it should be thinking of the country and not political power. It has been losing the moral high ground ever since the Maharashtra election, when Devendra Fadnavis tried to become chief minister in that sordid little midnight coup. Then came the toppling of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and the induction into the BJP of a man who has always spoken out against the BJP’s fundamental ideology. And, now this.
The Congress party is in a worse position in every way. Its dirty laundry has not only been washed in public, it is still hanging on a public clothesline. Ashok Gehlot did himself no favours when he accused his former deputy of believing that it was enough to ‘speak good English and have a handsome personality’. These may not be qualifications to rise to the political pinnacle but they are not disqualifications. If he remains Chief Minister it would do no harm for Gehlot to look less scruffy and improve his linguistic skills. He may boast about having risen from rustic grassroots but let us remember that he is working hard to bring his son into electoral politics and start his own mini dynasty.
It is this dynastic impulse that has reduced the Congress party to the pathetic state that it finds itself in today. Hereditary succession may work in business and in other spheres of life, but it usually does not work in politics. But, because Sonia Gandhi was so determined to have her own son inherit the Congress party, she encouraged other young political heirs to such a degree that almost every ‘young leader’ in her flock is now an heir. Unsurprisingly, the party of our freedom movement appears to be in its death throes.
Returning, though, to Rajasthan, let me say that it cannot be said loudly enough that the men who are trying to bring down an elected government in such a troubled time are those who care more for political power than for the country. Now that it is clear that most of these men come from the BJP, will the Prime Minister intervene to remind them that they have with their actions lost him the moral high ground? This happens at a time when the qualities of his leadership are being questioned because of the muddled handling of the Chinese virus and Chinese aggression in Ladakh.
Nothing is more important at this moment than for India to show that it can win this dreadful fight against Covid-19. And, that we have the will to drive Chinese troops from the land they have taken in Ladakh. Only then will Narendra Modi regain some of the moral high ground that has slipped away from him because he seems to have forgotten that the country is more important than BJP expansionism.
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