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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Politics: A Question About Legitimacy!

Article first published as Indian Politics: The Legitimacy Syndrome! on Technorati.

One has to search the pages of history frantically to find when exactly someone might have called an elected government an illegitimate child. If the search was unsuccessful do not despair as yet, because it just happened in the largest democracy of the world. It happens only in India, if you want to buzz! 

It happened right in the floor of the lower house of the Indian Parliament. It happened in the very first day of the monsoon session that started today, Wednesday, the 8th of August, 2012. It was expected the opposition political parties would storm the house on several burning issues ranging from ethnic violence to ongoing scams. But nobody could anticipate the desperation to reach such depraved levels. 

And, the question of legitimacy was raised by none other than the senior most opposition leader of the country, the former Deputy Prime Minister of India, the opposition leader of the lower house of Parliament till 2010, and the octogenarian, L K Advani. He had been one of the pioneering figures of the main opposition party of India that is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the consequent opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that got elected to rule the country from 1999 to 2004. Under pressure from fundamentalist groups who wanted him to withdraw in favor of younger politicians Advani gave up as president of the BJP in 2005 and from the post of the leader of opposition in Parliament in 2010. At that point of time it was believed the grand old politician had finally retired. But it was hardly so. He went on with his Prime Ministerial aspirations and even countered the candidature of a much younger and dynamic Narendra Modi. His so-called goodwill trips across the country in chariots continued too. He never resisted from making political waves by uttering or doing something unexpected. 

Only the other day LK Advani shocked all in NDA and in BJP by declaring that the Prime Minister after the General Elections of 2014 would be a non-Congress and non-BJP candidate. Many leaders criticized his as already accepting defeat. Maybe the grand old man saw an opportunity to build on the ‘unexpected’ and wanted to make amends as soon as possible. 

So while attacking the ruling coalition on the continuing ethnic violence in the state of Assam Advani said he felt the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA-2) government was like an ‘illegitimate child’. The unprecedented remark drew unprecedented angry reactions from the members of the Congress-led UPA-2 and disrupted the proceedings of the Parliament. A normally calm and quiet Congress President Sonia Gandhi seethed with anger and agitation and asked her colleagues to demand a withdrawal of the remark. She asserted that a democratically elected government could not be defamed like this. 

That the Assam violence issue has rocked Parliament on the very first day of the session is perfectly legitimate, because the long pending crisis needs to be solved immediately. But the ‘storm’ raised by LK Advani was not a legitimate one. The Assam ethnic crisis dates back to pre-Independence times and exactly what have Advani and his party and his alliance been doing all these decades? If he has realized the immensity of the problem only today then his very realization is illegitimate. Politicization of the human tragedy must be stopped if anyone genuinely wants to solve it NOW

With the storm getting beyond him the veteran politician did withdraw his comment saying that his remark was in fact made in a different context. Perhaps or not he was blissfully unaware about how the bigots and the reactionary forces of the largest democracy had already started to feed and build on his remark taking the ‘depravity’ to Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origins. 

The damage was done. Another low was achieved in Indian politics.

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