, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
By the time we print, the Congress-led UPA government would or would not have survived the vote of confidence. That is not important. What is important is to see how the democratic traditions of the world’s largest democracy were compromised for imperial politics.
Today, the alleged rate of a purchasable parliamentarian, promising to bail out the UPA dispensation on July 22 in the floor test is Rs 25 crore. It was revealed by the CPI General Secretary, Mr AB Bardhan, in New Delhi on July 14. This too-bold assertion is understandable in view of the all-out risk that the Manmohan Singh Government has taken in clinching the dubious deal.
As the matters stand, 261 MPs have assured the Congress of their support. Twenty-two, who have not decided yet, are busy in hard bargaining with the Government at the Centre. This, however, is certain that 259 would vote against the Government. Those who hold the key to the Congress success are 12 belonging to the JMM (5), the RLD (3), the NC (2), and the JDS (2). In the meantime, four Independents are keeping their cards close to their chests. Three convicted parliamentarians are already out of jail, while bail applications of two are under consideration.
Horse trading of another variety is also in full swing. The BJP is in close contact with the JMM supremo, Mr Shibu Soren, who not long ago was acquitted of the murder charge. He is being offered the CM chair in Jharkhand. But he is demanding the coal ministry back, which was taken from him when he was charged.
The Saffron party, it is said, is working round the clock to woo some Congress parliamentarians in Gujarat and Bihar. The situation is totally fluid. Everything depends upon the capability of the paymaster.
In the meantime, the rival parties, particularly those led by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms Mayawati are busy poaching in each other’s constituencies. Talk of Third Alternative is also in the air.
The third variety, which has two sub-varieties, of horse trading, which incidentally does not happen to be rare, is literally slaughtering values and principles of clean politics. This is more disturbing than the rest: Some elements in the Left, under the stewardship of Congress-stung Mr Prakash Karat, are now supporting the so-called saviour of Dalits, Ms Mayawati, who is not known for fair play, and who is constantly under the CBI scanner for mega scandals.
Attempts are afoot to make her the head of the new United National Progressive Alliance. According to the 600-page agency chargesheet, the Bahujan Samaj Party’s boss has in Lucknow alone disproportionate assets worth Rs 20 crore. These assets include 74 properties and 54 bank accounts in the name of the UP chief minister and her family members besides 307 dubious donations.
It is not the Left alone, which is going hammer and tongue against the CBI for targeting her at the official behest, but the BJP has also trained its guns at the country’s premier investigating agency.
The Left is also being pilloried for siding with the BJP, the undisputedly anti-minority party. The Left argument is: The Congress had voted with the BJP to bring down the VP Singh Government in 1990 and later “conspired” to remove the Governments of HD Deve Gowda in 1997 and I.K. Gujral in 1998. It was Rajiv Gandhi who tied up with the BJP. They emphasised in New Delhi on July 14.
The Left stance may or may not be true, but their voting behaviour, their defiance of Mr Jyoti Basu in putting them into lurid light, particularly after the showering of the RSS praise on Mr Karat.
The political culture that the Congress has brought into existence is deplorable. All that it stood for in the past seems to have gone with the nuclear wind. The oldest party is not abiding by the common minimum programme it had agreed upon with the Left. A considerable chunk of the electorate feels betrayed.
Today the over a billion-strong plural nation stands divided and sub-divided both vertically and horizontally. Dr Singh’s main crime is he rushed to Washington without attempting to tap the indigenous energy resources which are much cheaper and safer than the nuclear energy. Chernobyl is still fresh in minds. Moreover, the US deal will only fulfil about 25 per cent of India’s energy need.
Except France and Japan, most of the countries avoid nuclear power plants.
Bharat has potential hydro power from rivers like the Ganges and the Krishna. Tidal power can be used from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Wind energy potential is aplenty. The country also has thermal power as well as coal-generated energy. And above all we have abundant uranium which, till date, remains unmined.
Not long ago, in June, Mr Neelesh Mishra wrote in the Hindustan Times: “It is almost as if the Titanic was going down, and the passengers were watching TV. India’s atomic energy programme has been subjected to a stunning managerial disaster over the past two decades, the results of which are visible now. We have known through the 1990s that India has all the uranium needed to run its nuclear plants, currently running at half their capacity, wasting Rs 16,000 crore of taxpayers’ money.
Mr V R Krishna Iyer has, in a brilliant 1700-word article (The Hindu, July 17), held mirror to the architects of the deal. He has forcefully reiterated that the issue involves US suzerainty over India’s national economy and independent foreign policy … America the big businessman is keen to make India its mega market. To quote him: “Parties barter seats and votes and try to make Parliament an enterprise with commercial stakes. The media reports seats and deals for high prices, and micro parties and independents as being available commodities. The Supreme Court’s stultifying jurisprudence on parliamentary bribery being immune to judicial discovery has made horse trading a less risky operation than democratic decency would have tolerated. Appalling judicialese sometimes incinerates finer values, lets opportune alliances going and allows corruption inside the hallowed House.
“My entreaty is to preserve undiminished the dynamics, dimensions and dialectical realities of our democracy without the authoritarian patronage and commanding directives of a big power beyond the Atlantic. Do not nuclearise our freedom. We need no US nuclear imports to attain energy swaraj … But where is the will to tell Mr Bush that we don’t need him? We shall not surrender our freedom in disgrace. Parliamentary votes are not private commodities. Bondage to Mr Bush and US big business is nothing but colonialism.”
By refusing the premiership and making way for Dr Singh, the UPA chairperson had won hundreds of millions of hearts and minds and had rendered her detractors speechless. But the nuclear deal seems capable of sinking the Congress under the leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi in the next general elections. A fatal flaw! Are you listening, Madam?