June 17, 2020 4:05:18 am
Atawdry political spectacle is unfolding in Rajasthan, even as the people of the state, like elsewhere in the country and the world, are battling the coronavirus epidemic. Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls on June 19, the ruling Congress party has parked over a hundred MLAs supporting its government in a luxury resort near Jaipur. On Tuesday, the BJP followed suit by transporting its legislators to a hotel in the city. The Congress leadership has claimed that the legislators were moved to the resort to shield them from poaching by the BJP, a claim the BJP dismisses while claiming that its own MLAs are in the hotel for a two-day workshop to discuss and debate issues, including voting in the RS election. On show is a shocking disconnect between the people and the political parties. At a time when the people are reeling under a grave health and economic crisis, their elected representatives, who ought to be in the forefront of the battle to secure lives and livelihoods, are being herded in and out of hotels, under a cloud of mistrust and amid swirling rumours of cash offers.
The drama in Rajasthan comes in the backdrop of developments in Gujarat, where eight Congress MLAs have resigned their seats ahead of the RS polls. The Congress has alleged that the resignations came at the behest of the BJP. The BJP has unsurprisingly refuted the allegation and asked the Congress not to blame it for its own failure to hold on to its legislators. Similar allegations and counter-allegations were made ahead of government formation in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka recently. The only difference was that the visible flight of the MLAs, in some cases to other states, and the alleged power-brokering did not take place in the midst of a public health emergency. Currently, both Gujarat and Rajasthan have been hard hit by COVID-19. Gujarat, especially, has been visibly struggling in its fightback.
By all accounts, the BJP has been pursuing a majority in the Rajya Sabha since 2014. On the other side, faced with the BJP’s unrelenting will to power, a divided and dispirited Congress party can only complain about its opponent’s predatory instincts even as its own legislators jump ship, uninhibitedly explore other political options. That this dreary drama plays out in the middle of a pandemic, uninterrupted, is a telling statement of a dismal politics disconnected from the people’s concerns.
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