Compassion vs insensitivity or truth vs hypocrisy?
L.K.Advani is the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. As such he is a very important person in the democratic politics.
Advani has taken up the job of criticising the government whenever he thinks fit. It is his legitimate role.
Unfortunately, in India it is still not a fully understood role, that of the role of the Opposition in a democracy. Only rarely we find Opposition leaders rising above the din and noise and make sense and give a direction and a purpose for the Opposition the role it deserves.
Is Advani discharging his duties well?
Such a question arises in the context of his present role of describing the Prime Minister as the weakest one among the other weak Prime Ministers. He has named them also. It requires some courage and even guts to openly call the Prime Ministers weak as such. For the popular perception is that the Prime Minister whoever he or she is, given the Indian psyche, is always a person larger than life. That is how we have seen the Prime Ministers, from Pandi Nehru down to the present incumbent.
But times change and the perceptions change, the public mood changes and we come across a different type of politics in the country.
In the wake of Dr.Manmohan Singh becoming the Prime Minister the office is certainly downgraded in public perceptions.
Dr.Singh was never a politician, no one has a clue as to his actually joining the Congress party as a member, he was all his life a low-profile and yet a very competent administrator and that shows his longevity in the government. Now, he is Prime Minister and that is all. The name board is changed but he for all practical purposes remains and conducts himself as a disciplined government servant.
That is the rub. He as Prime Minister doesn’t carry much weight in the scheme of things. He is certainly has no legitimacy and that shows in every action of his.
Take the much-hyped and now quite dismissive Indo-US nuclear deal. The deal seems to have lost all its sheen with the Indian nuclear scientists picking holes in the deal almost everyday. Given the choice, the Indian public opinion will support and go with the scientist’s views, rather than with the spin of the foreign ministry officials, some of whose legitimacy itself is questioned. So, everything that is done by the PM or in his name lacks the basic public credibility, the needed public scrutiny, the needed Parliamentary debate and also the considered opinion of the elite community as well.
The pity is that now, almost late in the day, with George Bush himself is losing out much of his left-over legitimacy and to converse with the US President by the Indian Prime Minister for the resurrection of a deal that has not much meaning today, is a question of further casting a negative light on the office of the Prime Minister.
It is better to leave out the nuclear deal to a new government in Washington and also wisely to a new dispensation in New Delhi after 2009!
Now, coming back to Advani’s latest broadside against the PM, the Opposition leader has questioned the PM”s expressing the opinion that he had a sleepless night for “seeing the trauma of the family of those accused of involvement in the Glascow bomb attack” Mr.Advani said that the PM should have shown the same concern for the victims of the terrorists”. Advani said the PM’s remarks was not an appeasement of minorities but the appeasement of terrorism.
More than that the remarks came when he was participating in the annual event to commemorate the Mumbain train blast victims on July 11 2006.
It is the scenes of the victims of the Mumbai blasts as shown on the TV channels that were heart-rending. Much more than the real plights of those who are yet to get their compensations and aid as promised was the callous behaviour of our ruling class, more so the very real behaviour of the high and mighty in Delhi on that fateful day in Mumbai. For some full one or two days there was no response from Delhi at all! Then, came a poor brief response, a put out release of a PM’s condolence as read out by the Home Minister who himself didn’t show any urgency in relief measures. Now, Advani says and he is right that Union railway minister Lalu Prasad did not bother to visit the victims of the 7/11 train blasts.
Why, even now, the channels show the visuals where we see heart-breaking stories of those who are left high and dry and the visits of the victims all through the year to the various offices of the government to claim the compensation.
It was only after seeing the visuals we wondered: is there compassion in society and in our democratic system, in our corporate world, in our civic society?
Compassion seems to have dried out, in this great society, we talk all the time about all thesevirtues, positive virtues, compassion, charity, giving alms, reaching out to the needy and the final irony of ironies, the corporate social responsibility.
In was wondering as I was witnessing the scenes of the blast victims with tears rolling down their faces: If I were an Ambani or a Narayanamurthy, or some other corporate bigwig, I would have just then and there announced: “the entire compensation would be taken care of by the corporate world of Mumbai, with no questions asked”!
But there was none! Neither any such response from the government. In Delhi, I was imagining the PM must surely be watching the channels or someone must have drawn his attention. Or, any of his colleagues, more so the very same Home Minister? Or, Sonia Gandhi?
No, they haven’t seemed to have watched the channels! There was no indication to any of these lamentations!
So, the world goes on and we attend to our routine businesses and we have a job to do and the PM does his routine job and so too the Leader of the Opposition, right?
And to undertake the task of attacking Advani for his opposition to the selection of Pratibha Patil as the Presidential candidate by a group of women Congress members is a joke, indeed.
Advani hasn’t lowered the status of Indian women by questioning the selection process of the Presidential candidate. This shows the poor material Sonia Gandhi is. She hasn’t certainly raised the status of the Indian women by foisting on the nation such a candidate.
Such is the mood of the country.
There are so many issues that need a more honest and open-minded debate in the country. No one politician can be above scrutiny and that too when it comes to holding high offices.
Unfortunately, in politics, it is always the diversionary tactics that is taken to be cleverness! This is simple nonsense!
Truth in politics is like truth in any other legitimate activity. That is the simple message!
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