Why this hooliganism?

It is sad to notice that politicians of all hues in India have become self-serving dictators who have scant regard for the people.

The way the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have functioned during the last few days has been disgraceful for all of us, Indian citizens, aam aadmi or otherwise. One wonders at the quality of people we send to these hallowed institutions. Since these are our ‘representatives’, does it all speak for ourselves? Whether the whole world is watching us or not, we should feel ashamed of ourselves.

What can one say, when one of the MPs of this large nation with nearly one-fifth the population of the world is said to have brandished a knife in parliament. Some supporters say that it was not a knife but a microphone that he snatched away, as if to reduce the intensity of the disgraceful act. Another parliamentarian sprayed pepper in the house. It looks like the members had come prepared for such rowdy acts. One can understand the intense emotion of some when their state – Andhra Pradesh -- is likely to be split into two against their wish.

Whatever may be the amount of their fear and anguish, brandishing knives or uprooted microphones or spraying pepper is abhorrent in a civil society and unthinkable in the house of parliament.

If these acts were rowdy acts, the government in power –the UPA – did its own unruly act. When there was so much noise and confusion in parliament about the introduction of the Telangana bill, the government is accused of having introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha on the sly. Opposition leaders, particularly of the BJP, like Sushma Swaraj claimed that the Telangana bill was not tabled. 

If the UPA government is putting the rule book aside, the Aam Aadmi Party -- the crusader for clean government – is no better. Although now Arvind Kejriwal has resigned and is pretending to be the martyr, his high-handed method of introducing the Jan Lokpal bill in the Delhi Assembly has been criticised by the BJP and the Congress. According to the latter two parties, the introduction of the bill was totally unconstitutional. The Lt Governor of Delhi had warned the AAP government about the required constitutional procedures that were being violated. 

But, chief minister Kejriwal called the Lt Governor an agent of the UPA government at the Centre. Worse, he likened the government at the Centre to the British government and the Lt Governor of Delhi to the viceroy. While conveniently ignoring the Indian constitution, he complained about the tearing of papers by some BJP and/or Congress Assembly members and called it disrespectful of the constitution. A case of the pot calling the kettle black. 

Kejriwal and his party, during their 49 day stint, believed more in anarchy and less in the systems and processes as laid down by the Constitution. They believed in ‘referendum’ and arbitrary decisions favouring their supporters. They also seem to believe in kangaroo courts and feudal dictatorial Khap Panchayats. Somehow, AAP’s answer to the corruption in government appears to be anarchy. They believe that only they are corruption-free while all else or anyone who questions them is corrupt. An egotistic and ‘my way is the highway’ kind of an approach.

Cloud of suspicion

The BJP and its leaders have certainly not distinguished themselves to be clean. Karnataka under their rule was an example. Nitin Gadkari’s alleged misdoings with ‘fake company directors’ and even Modi’s controversial ‘snoop gate’ which has not fully been out of the clouds, do raise questions. Moreover, they have been quite dictatorial. In implementing their ‘Hindutva’ agenda, which is sometimes overt and some other times covert, they and/or their henchmen have resorted to disruptive behaviour in the perception of several people. After the horrible riots of 2002, the BJP and the Modi government have always been under a cloud of suspicion.

Rowdy behaviour is not the prerogative of one party or few political parties. Take Muzaffarnagar riots and the treatment of the displaced people by the ruling Samajwadi Party government. Chief minister of UP Akhilesh Yadav and the party supremo Mulayam Singh came out as terribly lacking in sympathy towards the victims of the riot, to say the least. They may not have blatantly violated the provisions in the Indian Constitution, but they appear to treat the state of UP as their fiefdom. Additionally, they have many persons in their government who have serious criminal charges against them. 

Mayawati ‘Behenji’ of BSP has been so self-possessed and dictatorial that she had plans for innumerable statues of herself all over the state of UP. About DMK leaders the less said would be better. Mamata Didi seems to abet the criminal activities of some of her TMC workers. The recent gang-rape of a lady CPM worker is a case in point. The allegations that it was done by some workers of the TMC as a case of political vendetta, fell on deaf ears. Instead of an act of kindness towards the victim, a senior leader of her party questioned with sarcastic arrogance, “Did the rapists have Trinamool badges?” If a lady chief minister’s trusted lieutenant expresses such ghastly views, what does it say of the Chief Minister?

It is sad to notice that politicians of all hues in India have become self-serving dictators who have scant regard for people and their suffering. For gaining control over the levers of state power, they do not mind supporting those breaking laws, breaking laws themselves when needed, at times even abrogating the Constitution. All known norms are being broken. ‘Fascism’ is too mild a word in the current circumstances. They are all behaving like political ‘goondas’ and the country is fast descending into goonda raj.

(The writer is a former professor at IIM, Bangalore)

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