She has to set her house in order first!

Sonia Gandhi was served with a notice from the Election Commission for her use of language”, merchants of death”(maut ke saudagar) in the Gujarat election   campaign.
Mr.Narendra Modi’s retaliation justifying the “police encounter deaths” as a response to Sonia Gandhi’s this remark also received the EC’s attention and a notice and Mr.Modi’s reply was also under the EC’s scrutiny. Supreme Court also issued a contempt of court notice.

This time, the EC’s action not only against Mrs.Gandhi but also her deputy Mr.Digvijay Singh. Both the leaders were caught off guard, as it were by the sudden activism of the EC, given the tense atmosphere created by Modi’s high-pitched campaign that left him a long mileage vis a vis the Congress, the main rival for the Gujarat honours.
What surprised the observers was the fact that Sonia Gandhi always looked beyond reproach and also beyond reach for anyone to question her actions closely. So, EC’s swift action caused some flutters and to say the least the Congress was quite unprepared for such a point scoring!

Now, is Mrs.Gandhi justified to use such an expression?
And who coined the term? It is attributed to a Bollywood script writer. In the past Mrs.Gandhi’s speech writers were Mani Shankar Aiyar and Jairam Ramesh. These “wordsmiths” after all have some value? For creating political storms? While the TV news channels played the tapes of the two leaders. This time the new entrant is said to be a non-political person, that only could have helped, it is said, to have such a polarising phrase!

One wonders where the limit to civilised speech is in a public discourse, including in a highly charged election season like the current one.

Though she claims she didn’t mean any individual but only to the Gujarat administration and the establishment. Surprisingly, she hasn’t made her reply public and so there would be some speculation what else she has said to plead her case.
After all the EC is a quasi-judicial body and any notice amounts to an indictment. The speeches of Gandhi and Modi were played out on the TV news channels and the viewers can make their own judgements. Yes, Modi’s speeches have all exceeded the limits of Constitutionalism and decency for any society that cares for certain norms and behaviour. Mrs.Gandhi’s speeches were of course different and they in fact dot refer to Modi directly but nevertheless they were said in an election rhetoric that can’t be taken as a great offence to any civilised listener. May be the EC acted in a sense of great responsibility and it is for the competent authorities to arrive at a conclusion.
The point is that Indian election politics under Narendra Modi had reached a dangerous level.

He seems to imagine he can cross any limit and incite the audience frenzy as he wants. This has to be stopped.
And how this can be done is for all to deliberate.

If courts can help then let them do their duty. The best way of course ideally is for the electorate to throw out such undesirable elements.
But then the undesirable elements are multiplying and in all parties, from the CPI (M) to the DMK, key allies in Mrs. Gandhi’s party’s coalition.

Nandigram and in some ways TN are now becoming problematic governance spots. In Kolkatta we see the revolt of the intellectuals and also the parting of ways of the key allies, RSP and Forward Bloc. Unless if you are an expert on Stalinism (different from Marxism and Leninism), you can’t fathom the limit to which human beastliness can go. The Indian intellectuals of Left orientation have been the first culprits who lent legitimacy to what the CPI (M) was ding all these years. And the tacit friendship of the Congress with the Bengal Left is also to be faulted at this hour of crisis for the parties concerned.

As for the Congress friendship with the DMK, it is again a question of how to fathom the psychology of a Frankenstein monster! Here, it is Rightwing and fanatical fascist type mindset, a sort of a new variation to the Hitlerian theme. Here again, there is much work for intellectuals to fathom the political disease that had eaten into the vitals of the Tamil identity.

In the Gujarat elections what the Congress party put out in newspaper advertisements against the Modi government,” the administration running as a one man-show, treating the employees as slaves, misusing government employees  for useless programmes and functions for personal publicity, misappropriation of public funds and other misbehaviour of the administration” would apply to the Congress allies in the states concerned.
The point here is that Sonia Gandhi faces some real dilemmas after a seemingly successful steering clear of the political minefields all the past few years of the UPA coalition government in Delhi.

The moment of truth is here and now!
The Congress party is a great organisation and it was born out of a great national movement. Now, it is just a coterie of highly undesirable elements, all time servers and they have no stake in the rise and fall of India as such.

So, our plea for Sonia Gandhi is to go for some soul searching. Please ensure some measure of international democracy in the party, more so in the state units.
There are so many contradictions in the party units. There are no state units, no PCCs or DCCs in many major states, in Karnataka and TN, as well as elsewhere. There is no genuine convergence of minds in the state party setups, the major communities are not represented, and the minority leaders with no mass base are given positions of power. Just to keep them focused on the family.

Much more worse in TN(this might apply elsewhere too)where the DMK is all-powerful, it just ignores the existence of a PCC, does things in an arbitrary and partisan manner, conducts a Rs.10 crore regional conference, the funds are quoted in many multiples of the official count and all this just to boost one family only. It is rumoured something like Rs one crore is spent just on the printing of the digital banners alone for this purpose! The PCC president is an in-law of the rival party chief and what sort of loyalty the Congress can command by such clearly contradictory choices and surrendering of party interests?

A visiting academic, an expert on democracy, governance, Larry Diamond, senior fellow, t Hoover Institution, Stanford University says that Indian democracy is “impressive” but has problems like “shallow parties largely based on personalities, substantial though blemished success story”.

Even the BJP seems to have many leaders; one is publicly named as PM candidate.
In the Congress it is all dark, so many layers and layers of intrigues and mutual suspicions and lack of genuine commitments.

So, we find a weak PM, a still weaker structure of party and Cabinet colleagues. Playing favourites with nominating the same individuals for the same high offices for far too long is not a healthy democratic convention. Why India could not find a new Law Minister for the past 25 years? Why the same man all these 25 years! Also, there is some deadwood in some heavy ministries. So too the growing dissatisfaction among the long list of ministers of state ,who don’t have any real job, except to splash the government funds for their travels and establishments.

And much worse, the functioning of Parliament exposed the way the government takes this institution. Parliament’s functioning has exposed the serious deterioration in our governance mechanism. According to the data compiled by PRS Legislative Research, the pending bills are 74 and the Parliamentarians have to work hard in disposing of the pending bills. But there is a progressive decline in the number of days  Parliament met in successive years, in 2005,2006,2007 and the days come down from as high as 85 days in 2005 but comes down to 77 days in 2006 and 65 days in 2007.People might wonder what else our hon’ble MPs do in the rest of the days! Also, the hours they work in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha also come down from 437 hours to 375 hours in 2007.Daily sittings also get reduced progressively from 5.8 hours in 2005 to 4.9 hours in 2007!

The walkouts and disruptions have become a daily Parliamentary habit and certainly, certain norms need to be fixed for the sort of candidates who are getting nominated to these august houses!

Parliamentary debates are no more printable and they don’t make for any history whatever! Can’t we change this trend that is not strengthening democratic institutions but weaken them and progressively we might reach a situation where no MP needs to speak anything and no Parliamentary business can be taken seriously. Already this is happening when much substantial legislation is passed off without uttering a single word or comment by the representatives of the people! Still worse is also the fact that the sort of people Sonia Gandhi nominates for the Rajya Sabha is a standing joke in the corridors of Parliament!

The result is the Congress party in nowhere in the major states where the incumbent CMs have no matching opposition party leaders in the respective states.
This is a deliberate policy under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership qualities.
India is too big a country to be contained in such narrow political focus. Our democracy is getting richer everyday by its various organs functioning in a clear and well-evolved federal structure. Some of our democratic experiences, our elections our Election Commission and our judiciary and our press culture, now TV channels and the investigative journalism, the sting operations have all contributed no less to the vigour and certain sustainable rhythm of the democratic voice of the last man.
So, we ask Sonia Gandhi to put the country’s larger interests before her own personal calculations.

The AICC, the PCCs and the DCCs and the rest of the party structure into its own good old day’s practices and conventions. She should reach out to the traditional Congress families and supporters and the major communities to come to the national mainstream.

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