There he was ole Lal Khrishnan. Advani on TV doing the rounds in one of the many slums of the high tech state of India giving one the impression he is a saint on holiday from heaven all too eager to take the first flight back to his heavenly abode after he sorts out India’s problems. Yes you guessed right. It’s election time in India and you can expect all sorts of gimmicks from the politicians from murder to theft to backstabbing a la Yadav.
Things were going good for the communalist Bharatha Janatha Party (BJP). Then came the dashing Varun Gandhi, grandson of India’s icon Jawharlal Nehru, a true democrat who was no stranger to rigging polls — he did that in Kashmir, not once but three times. Varun Gandhi probably thought he was improving his party’s prospect of bagging the next elections when he went on his vitriolic diatribe against India’s Muslim community. A few days later, amidst a huge media generated outcry he, as if to cock a snoot at the establishment, lashed out at the Sikh community.
The million dollar question is what was Varun Gandhi thinking when he did what he did? Was he rocking the boat for the heck of it? Or did he think he was doing the right thing after all? Or was this young man only following the examples of his elders in the BJP who came into the limelight on the communal card?
Young Varun Gandhi is just that – young. He’s from a generation who you might think will enter politics and change the way the game is played. But alas he had to impress his peers in the BJP and of course, by extension, enhance his and his party’s popularity amongst its main Hindu vote base. And what better way to do that than to beat the communal drum? The crowd at the rally did not seem to be too upset with what Varun is alleged to have said which proves the point that such invectives are a part and parcel of India’s political system.
This is not to excuse Varun’s outburst. But he is not a little boy anymore. He’s in his thirties and should know right from wrong. But on the other hand he is young enough to be naïve. Being a product of India’s corrupt and communal political system maybe he thought he was pleasing his leaders in the BJP by following their example in racial politics. After all Advani led a mob that destroyed the Barbri Masjid and Narendra Modi supervised the Gujarat riots that left more than 2000 Muslims dead, destroying their properties and businesses that left another 150,000 Muslims displaced and without any source of livelihood.
Advani was rewarded with a seat in parliament for doing what he did and Modi continues to rule the roost in Gujarat. In comparison Varun Gandhi’s ‘crime’ pales into insignificance though India’s NDTV went into hype mode with the story trying to showcase India’s democracy the same way the American TV stations tried to showcase American justice with the Abu Ghraib story. By focusing only on Varun’s contemptible behaviour and ignoring the crimes of the likes of Advani and Modi, the pro-establishment NDTV was not doing justice to its purported independence. And that’s putting it mildly.
Besides Modi and Advani there are many others in India’s parliament who can only be described as criminals if laws mean anything — 128 ‘honourable’ members of India’s parliament in 2004 had criminal charges against them which included 84 cases of murder, 17 cases of robbery and 28 cases of theft and extortion. No wonder democracy is being defined as ‘mob rule’!
But hope springs eternal in the human breast. Young politicians like the three Gandhis can make a difference if they conduct themselves on principles enunciated by the man who is described as the father of the nation and who has the same surname. However they must see that they do not get sucked in by the system. But for starters Varun Gandhi must apologise for his conduct and Muslims and the overwhelming non-communal Hindus must have the grace to accept that apology. Then they can take it from there.