Jaswant Singh ate the forbidden apple and paid the price for it. His unceremonious expulsion from the BJP, a party that he served for three decades without even being shown the normal courtesy of a show cause notice was shocking. As Chacha Ghalib would have said- Bade beabru hokar tere kuche se hum nikle. The funny part of the story is that most of the BJP parliamentary board members who expelled Jaswant Singh haven’t read the book . One may not agree with every argument of Jaswant Singh but as a mature democracy, we should accept different points of view even on contentious issues such as the division of our country . History should be open to reinterpretation and our historians should take a new look at things that happened more than six decades ago. Leaders who create history have positives and negatives both. We cannot refuse to see the bright side of a leader of Jinnah’s stature.
A few years ago Mr LK Advani had praised Mr Jinnah as a secular person. After a few protests everything was forgotten and forgiven. Jaswant Singh ji perhaps thought that he too could get away and dared to analyse the founder of Pakistan. This reminded me of a joke which I heard long time ago. A gentleman was on a flight with a parrot on the seat next to him. Every time the air hostess walked past, the parrot whistled. The air hostess gave the parrot a dirty look and walked away. After this happened a couple of times she was nipped by the bird while passing by. She became really angry and complained about the shameless passenger. The captain couldn’t do much and asked her to put up with the bird till they touched ground. This emboldened the gentleman sitting next to the parrot and he pinched the airhostess when she walked past. She lost her patience and threatened to resign if the captain took no action. ‘Throw them both out of the plane.’ the captain said. As the two of them were falling, the parrot asked the gentleman- can you fly? The frightened man said no, the bird opened his wings and asked- why did you take a punga with the hostess when you can’t fly?
There was an SMS circulated after tragedy hit Mumbai- ‘We are worried about people who came on boats, we are more worried about people who come on our votes’. Couldn’t express my thoughts better than this.
Never in my adult life have I been confused when I went to the polling booth, I always knew which candidate and party to vote for, even when I was not yet of voting age. It was totally different yesterday. The events in Mumbai have shaken me completely. Images of Vilasrao Deshmukh, RR Patil and Shivraj Patil irritate me and thus it was difficult to vote for Congress; Narendra Modi’s face outside Trident and LK Advani outside the Taj making political statements while our brave soldiers were fighting the terrorists inside left me wondering do they deserve my vote? Our home minister announced the time of arrival of NSG commandoes in Bombay on national TV, can you believe it. Surprise element gone, the terrorists knew when to welcome the soldiers. After an intense 3 days of worldwide anguish and drama, RR Patil says “bade shahron mein aise ek adh hadse hote rahte hain. Woh 5,000 logon ko marne aye the lekin humne kitna kum nuksan hone diya.” (Some small incidents do happen in big cities. They (terrorists) came to kill 5,000 people but we ensured minimal damage). I don’t even want to comment on this, it is sick.
The candidate was always an important factor for me when I decided my preference, today I surprised myself by voting for a candidate I hardly know anything about and who hardly has a chance against a very strong BJP candidate. For a moment I wanted to vote for a weird independent candidate but then there was no point in wasting my vote. The result of this dilemma was that all 4 votes in my family canceled each other. But voting is my duty and I have to perform it.
The other strange and new development was that I smiled at a policewallah. Under normal circumstances I have always believed that if for some reason I need help desperately on the road and there is a choice between a policeman and ordinary citizen I will turn to the aam admi and not the policeman for help. At the polling booth when the policeman asked if I was carrying a mobile, I smiled at him when I said no. He looked so human and in fact a guardian of the people instead of a corrupt and heartless govt employee who pesters poor vegetable vendors and extracts hafta from them. The brave policemen of Bombay have made a difference to the image of the police force.
ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s wife refused to take 1 crore from Narendra Modi. She rightly declined the offer of money from a person who just a few days ago was maligning her husband because he was investigating Sadhvi Pragya’s involvement in Malegaon blast. Inspector MC Sharma’s wife earlier in Delhi had refused to take money from Amar Singh who tried to cast aspersions on the martyrdom of her husband. These women have done well. We all need to do our bit. The NSG commandoes played their part, our soldiers and police sacrificed their lives. We need to do we are supposed to do. Vote with prudence. Communal politics of the BJP and Shiv Sena should not be the only reason for Congress to get votes. Political parties who give tickets to criminals should not be voted for. A young boy was carrying a placard at the Taj yesterday which said-
Mr Terrorist: I am still alive, what more can you do?
Mr Politician: I am alive despite you.
I AM A MUMBAIKAR.
Truly well said.
As a democracy we may have a thousand flaws but our politicians(however corrupt, communal, conniving and more they are) never forgot the basic courtesies when the opposition was concerned. I remember a very senior columnist from Pakistan(Ayaz Amir) commenting about Manmohan Singh visiting Vajpayee and presenting him with a bouquet soon after being elected Prime minister. He lamented that he had never witnessed anything like that in Pakistan where politics of vendetta is more of a norm. Unfortunately after Sonia Gandhi has taken over the reins of Congress we are forgetting these. You may agree or disagree with LK Advani but the fact remains that he is one of the most senior politician in India.
The entire UPA coalition with the sole exception of the NCP’s Sharad Pawar, chose to boycott the release of the Advani’s book.This clearly reflects that our politicians are no more rivals but enemies. There was a culture of consensus once upon a time. I have heard a story that when Nehru was telling young Indira about the skills of oratory, he asked her to observe Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They were adversaries not enemies. Even in the days of the Emergency, some channels of communication were kept open between political adversaries. Mrs Gandhi,is said to have exchanged rather emotional letters with Jaiprakash Narayan in the lead up to the Emergency. Even in recent history prime minister Narasimha Rao was the guest of honour at a function to mark the release of Atal Behari Vajpayee’s poems. This was a decade ago. Seems impossible now. The other side of the story is that all caution has been thrown to the wind while criticising Sonia Gandhi by the BJP. At the Centre and the states, basic courtesies are missing. Mulayam Singh and his party stayed away when Mayawati was being sworn in as UP chief minister, Mayawati will do the same when in opposition. Mamta Banerjee can’t see Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee face to face. Narendra Modi is untouchable in Gujarat. The list is endless Karunanidhi and Amma jayalalitha , Amarinder Singh and Prakash Singh Badal.
I personally thought that LK Advani’s “gesture” in paying a courtesy call to Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister to present a copy of his memoirs was a nice gesture which could have been an icebreaker between the 2 heads of the major political parties in India. The political reaction has so far been a disappointment both from Advani’s party and the Congress sycophants. It was a brave attempt to start a conversation between the two rivals. Manmohan Singh should forget that Advani called him the “weakest ever” and Advani needs to forget that he was demonised time and again by the Congress. The nation is the ultimate victim of this animosity. The Left’s opposition to the nuclear deal was on the expected lines but if there was some level of understanding between the two adversaries this deal would have been through. After all it was the BJP who was instrumental in starting the negotiations on the nuclear deal.
There was another political story which caught my attention. A couple of days ago all the TV channels were telecasting the big news of Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi turning down an offer to be a minister of state in the PMO. The announcement was made by Sonia Gandhi. She said that she wanted Rahul to take the responsibility but he preferred the organisational work- one more act of renunciation by the Gandhi family. Who is fooling whom? First of all, it is the Prime minister’s prerogative to decide who he wants in his cabinet, although we are all aware of who controls what but still there are certain protocols which are to be followed. The second question is about the cabinet reshuffle (or the minor tinkering in the cabinet) itself. What is the point of adding new faces in an election year? I am not doubting the capability of Jyotiraditya Scindia or Jitin Prasad but they would need some time to perform. One year is definitely not enough. The most controversial aspect however was the inclusion of former Chief Election Commissioner MS GILL as a MOS with independent charge. People who have held constitutional posts should not be offered ministerial berths.The ruling party of the day can easily put pressure on a constitutional functionary by offering him post-retirement benefits.
In this political culture of accusation and suspicion various constitutional functionaries have to make difficult choices. The public should have faith that they have not been contaminated by the allurement of post-retirement arrangements.The reputation and credibility of these institutions is at stake.