Saturday, July 01, 2006

Feudal Democracy!!!!!!!!!!

Most political leaders in Delhi love to hold court. And the media does not hesitate to make news out of this. This happened recently when V.P.Singh celebrated his 75th birthday. Well. Singh has all the rights to celebrate his birthday and in the way he wants. He could have cut a cake, gone to a temple, hosted a feast to his friends and others or fasted through the day. He could have let the day pass off as another day in his life. And there was no way anyone could have sat on judgment.

But then, Mr. Singh decided to convert his 75th birthday into a public event. And hence it becomes imperative to discuss the celebrations in the public realm itself and bring out some of the disgusting aspects in the character of this former Prime Minister. Those familiar with the political scene in Delhi will know that Mr. Singh loves to be addressed to as raja saheb whenever he holds court: And this behaviour that belongs to the culture of the feudal era is indeed inimical to democracy.

The fact is that contrary to pretensions that he was committed to democracy, V.P.Singh had hardly made an honest effort to live up to this. He insisted on running the Janata Dal in the same way a petty vassal would do; and scuttled all efforts to convert the party into an organization. He willingly participated in palace intrigues in the Janata Dal as long as it ensured his self preserving ends and did everything to promote regional chieftains in the same way as the Delhi Sultans did in far flung areas or as Indira Gandhi did with her Congress after 1967. It is another matter that some of them carved a space for themselves and grew up to survive without his patronage. Lalu Yadav whom Singh promoted against Ram Sundar Das in Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sharad Yadav belong to this category.

Some others managed to grow despite Singh’s designs to eliminate them. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Ajit Singh are a few who belong to this category.

And V.P.Singh, at one point of time, seemed to show a lot of courage and declare that he believed in the law of dialectics and even explained, in a public meeting, that the seed will have to destroy itself for the plant to grow and further reproduce. This was at a time when the Janata Dal, as a party, wanted him to take over as party president. Singh seemed to convince even his critics that he belonged to a different culture. He even quit the Lok Sabha on the ground that he had decided to stay away from partisan politics.

But then, his activities in the past couple of months, beginning with the launch of a political outfit (it is still not clear as to whether his new venture with Raj Babbar is a political party or not) and leading up to his birthday bash in New Delhi simply show that the Raja from Manda was only pretending all these years. He seems to be convinced, like any other vassal that he is born to rule! And the idea of a third front will help him reach the throne once again! Singh alone cannot be blamed for this when a host of leaders, including the luminaries of the Left parties, gathered around the Raja on his birthday.

It is only a tragedy that several descendents of the petty chieftains who served the colonial regime until 1947 managed to preserve their positions in the new regime after independence and even capture the institutions of power ``winning’’ elections to become MPs and MLAs. We do have a number of them in the Union Cabinet; and there are Chief Ministers who wear their ``royal’’ lineage up their sleeves. V.P.Singh is not the only one.

Be that as it may. The point about the third front is that it is no longer an idea that can work. Even if all the parties other than the Congress and the BJP get together, the number of Lok Sabha seats where they can be counted as a force to reckon with is about 250. A party or a combine needs 272 seats in the House to form a Government. Now, it is impossible to count all of them together: The Samajwadi Party and the BSP cannot be in the same front. The same is true of the DMK and the AIADMK. The JD(U) and the RJD will not co-exist and Ram Vilas Paswan will not be comfortable with either of them. That means, any front of the kind cannot aspire to cross even 200 seats even if the Left parties are part of it.

The Congress and the BJP, meanwhile, remain strong enough to share 300 Lok Sabha seats between them. And this will not change in any big way even if Rahul Gandhi refuses to lead the party and internal squabbles continue to rattle the BJP. Hence, neither of these two parties will land in a situation where they will be forced to lend outside support and sustain a Government in the same way they had to do in 1989 (for the BJP) and in 1996 (for the Congress).

Meanwhile, the leaders of the regional and sub-regional parties have experienced the virtues of teaming up either with the Congress or with the BJP: To share power in New Delhi. Some of them, in fact, had switched sides at the right time and enjoyed ministerial positions in both the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led UPA. The DMK and the PMK for instance belong to this category and there are reasons that many more regional parties will join this.

For they all have experienced the perils of talking about a third front and ended up facing frequent elections. The idea of a third front may appeal to such leaders as V.P.Singh and a few others who hang around his durbar. But then, the political choice for the people of India are determined by a variety of factors than merely the birthday wish of a descendant from the ``royal’’ family that ruled a small principality called Manda in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.


Anonymous chotu said...

didn't like this one too came across as getting too a grudge venting piece...
for someone like me who doesen't know too much about VP Singh barring his Mandal commission did say something about his other side...but it definitely didn't go down too well.
but it reminded me of the piece you wrote for the ET about the saree distribution tragedy that took place in UP before the last election!! and i simply loved that one!!

1:30 AM  
Blogger V. Krishna Ananth said...

liked that.. may be it was personal.. knowing VP too well and from being close with him...
he disappointed some of us.

4:39 AM  

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