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Opposition as Enemy

September 4, 2011

‘Either you are with us or against us’ George W. Bush famously said after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Iraq intrusion. What The US told the world then, here in India there is a similar message doing the rounds in politics – that is if one can hear it. Democracy as we know it has the multiparty system at the root. Different political views get expressed in various parties big and small from national parties to some of the regional outfits that represent regional aspirations. Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are two of the national parties with some representation in almost all parts of India. Then there are some regional parties which represent regional aspirations. It is the conglomeration of all these parties that make India a vibrant democracy.

Congress and its UPA alliance has been in power for the past seven years. Congress has been in power ever since independence with an intermittent opposition rule. To the credit of Congress of Jawaharlal Nehru and Shastri and Indira Gandhi, they never tried to muzzle opposition. It was not an onslaught on the opposition. They were confident enough of their own political niche and knew that they had enough to offer to the common Indian such that the people of India would repose their faith in Congress and its policies. It is said that Indira Gandhi did become suspicious of the opposition and the 1975 emergency was her way of muzzling the opposition. But I believe it had less to do with her own inability to strike a chord with the people and more to do with a situation that made the country susceptible to instability. Emergency saw the fall of the Congress government and Janata Party coming to power.  It is another matter that the conglomeration of anti-Congress forces was such a disaster that the government could not complete its term and Congress was swept back to power.

There are voices that talk of an ‘emergency like situation’ in the India of today. It is intriguing why a government that has not made any disastrous mistakes would be so insecure to try and force itself on issues and personalities. Again crass Bushism is the only attitude that can describe what is going on in politics of the nation today.  It could well be that Congress Party is fed up of forming governments with allies and having to share power. Maybe they would love to have a majority on their own and that is why they are so keen on ensuring power any which way. It’s the pointed harassment and targeting opposition and their governments that makes’ one uncomfortable. It is true that Congress has a history of using means fair and foul to bludgeon opposition but what is happening today is more concerted and deliberate with an absolute contempt and intolerance for any opposition. I am not talking about just political parties but also individuals and organizations beyond politics. The one who is against the establishment can expect to be targeted. This is a dangerous development.

Must I cite examples? There are a host of examples in recent times and the worrying development is that such blatant targeting is getting more and more crass and vicious. It’s the absolute intolerance of any variance in political discourse that makes me cringe. Opposition may not be a friend but in a thriving democracy like ours to label it as a foe or an enemy is definitely not a healthy trend. Oppose opposition governments by all means but there is a way of going about it. Hounding opposition governments in states is definitely not the way.

The biggest Achilles heel for the Congress has always been the Gujarat government of Narendra Modi. Ever since the Gujarat riots of 2002 there has been a blitzkrieg in the media against the Modi government. Institutions and NGO’s have been floated purportedly with the single aim of targeting the BJP government there, They have seen the performance of the Modi government and know that defeating the man in polls is a tall order, so they are taking recourse to any means fair and foul to run down the Modi government. What Congress does not understand is that the more they try to hound the CM and his ministers the stronger they become politically. The TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor comes into play and it becomes increasingly difficult to dislodge the man. The latest appointment of the Lokayukta by the Governor is the culmination of a series of improprieties by various Congress stooges in an attempt to dislodge the BJP government in Gandhinagar.

There is another very childish maneuver that the Congress is adopting in states where opposition is in power. The Governor will sit on files that should have been routine matters only to slow down the development process. And then go to town screaming that the government is not doing enough. The Nitish Kumar led Bihar government is so tired of this silly nonsense that they have suggested that it should be mandatory for the Governor to sign files and keep the administrative wheels of the state moving. And then there was this instance of New Delhi granting a thousand crores to Bihar and once the elections were over and the JD(U)-BJP alliance swept the polls a fax reached Patna asking the state to return the money pronto! It was such a childish thing to do that it is more of an amusing aside than any serious politics.

Similarly, in Karnataka the Congress concluded that were BS Yeddyurappa to remain as the chief minster their chances of coming back to power were zilch. A concerted campaign started that has still not abated. The man was called names and frivolous charges of corruption emerged. The media played a proactive role as is their wont. The inexperienced BJP leadership in Delhi succumbed to the media blitzkrieg and the constant attacks on the man from the Congress and the JD(S). BS Yeddyurappa was removed and his protégé Sadanand Gowda made the CM. The BJP top brass was naive enough to try and marginalize their trump card and an ugly confrontation between the regional satrap and the leadership from Delhi saw a protracted battle where BSY managed to get his candidate elected. To be fair to the BJP top brass it could well be that had they insisted on continuing with BSY the Governor may have imposed President’s rule. That would have meant giving power on a platter to the Congress. But the lack of respect shown to the BJP war horse, BSY did leave a bad taste in the mouth. Funnily it suited Congress to throw a noose around HD Kumarswamy who was till yesterday voicing invective’s against BJP government in concert with the Congress. Congress is trying to kill two birds with one stone. HDK is wary of a stint in jail. Congress the only ‘winner’, if one may call it thus.

The BJP then thought that they would be able to corner the Congress government in Delhi. They tried to launch a shrill campaign against Sheila Dixit government who is facing serious charges of corruption. The media played it down and the woman refused to speak. The Congress government shamelessly warded off all charges and ensured that the BJP backed off. Sheila Dixit government stays. The CAG report that indicted Dixit government was put in cold storage.

In UP too there have been massive efforts by the Congress to undermine the BSP government in Lucknow. The Bhatta Parsaul incident where there was firing by the UP Police to quell farmers protesting saw Rahul Gandhi undertake a padyatra. Frivolous charges of atrocities committed by the police were made by Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi. Charges of rape by the police were made that were found to be untrue. The farmers are very upset with these insinuations as their close knit communities gets a bad name.  While Rahul Gandhi always finds time to go and hear the grievances of farmers in UP he seldom has time for other states where Congress governments are in power. In Andhra Pradesh hundreds of young men have committed suicide for Telangana but Rahul Gandhi has no time for them.

The Congress government is particularly vicious against the saffron brigade – the BJP and the RSS. They have a cabal in an advisory council to Sonia Gandhi that is a den of leftist extremists with dubious links. The Fai connection that was unearthed by the FBI saw many Indian ‘intellectuals’ being exposed. But they have not been touched. They are a tool to bludgeon the opposition with and therefore they must not be disturbed. This is a very dangerous development and using those with dubious credentials who are a threat to the state just because they can be used to run down the opposition will boomerang in the long run. Such elements should have been plucked out. That they are as active as ever means that their confidence will grow and they will become a law unto themselves, as they have indeed. Congress has lost all sense of proportion in its pursuit to decimate all opposition any which way.

The murder of Shehla Masood in Bhopal is now being used as a tool to target the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh. It is being said that the CM’s office was threatening Ms Masood. Remarkably in the same breath the same people point out that she was running an NGO that was funded by the saffron right. There is an evident contradiction there and it will be interesting to see how this pans out. The media had also been running a constant barrage of reports of how a senior BJP leader talked to Ms Masood before her murder and how the police was going to question him. Media kept asking her father as to whether he believed the said person was behind the murder. The old man kept on saying that he did not believe so but the question wouldn’t stop.

The way the Congress is trying to rope in BJP in the 2G spectrum scam where Arun Shourie and Jaswant Singh have been made a party to the case and are expected to make statements on their decisions is absolutely hilarious. This came about when Kanimozhi and A Raja made PM party to their decision. The Congress dirty tricks machinery sprung into action and ways and means are being found to distance the PM from the quagmire that is the 2G saga. Sometimes these obviously crude efforts makes one smirk.

In all of this the media has played a very negative role. They have been suckers for anything that the Congress dishes out. The Congress is overtly anti-majority and the media tows the government line. I have a feeling that this anti-Hindu sentiment within Congress runs so strong that anyone speaking for the Hindus within the Congress is summarily sidelined. The grapevine has it and Francious Gautier has also mentioned this in one of his articles that some of the top Congress leaders have converted to Christianity. The names that he mentions are close to the Gandhi family – people like Digvijay Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyer and Ambika Soni have reportedly converted and are practicing Christians now. There must be some very compelling reason for them to take such an extreme step. Again the Bush adage may have been behind this. To prove their allegiance to the ruling elite they forsake their own faith. The amusing part and perhaps the gory reality in this whole sordid saga is that the Gandhi family sees Hindus as the ‘other’ or even a possible ‘enemy’. This does not bode well for the party and for the country. The rules of ‘enemy’ therefore extend to those within the party. Remarkably there are no Hindus in the kitchen cabinet of Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, the man behind a series of riots in Gujarat, their point man and their Man Friday.

What is true with political parties is true with any voices beyond the political horizon. The way the Anna movement is being crushed is a cruel reminder that any opposition will be decimated. The government should have educated the people about Anna movement but they chose to use devious means to scuttle the upsurge. The way Baba Ramdev and his followers were beaten up and thrashed is still fresh in the memory of the nation.

The government needs to understand that political opponents need to be fought politically. There is a fine line between political activism and anarchy. Using all means fair and foul to crush all opposition can be detrimental to the democratic tradition of this nation. There has to be some semblance of propriety in fighting ones political foes. Politics has to be issue based. Politics has turned personal and that is a worrying development. A shrill electronic media only fuels the fires started by the ruling elite. This is no way to look at ones political adversaries. There has to be some mutual respect for the opposition. The contemptuous arrogance of the ruling elite needs to be toned down! Congress has a lot to offer this nation. They can make inroads in the most difficult of political paths provided they limit their offensive to political discourse. Otherwise they will be like an Express Train that has its brakes failed moving towards an inevitable collision with a concrete wall that is the will of the people of this great nation.

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