Incensed by defections managed through bribes, frustrated by the government's victory in Parliament's trust motion, LK Advani has sounded the bugle for a nationwide revolt to compel an early general election. He recalled the Bofors agitation which ousted Rajiv Gandhi through a mid-term poll. He has asked all opposition MPs to resign from Parliament. He believes that such an agitation will succeed as effectively as it did against Rajiv Gandhi.
He could be mistaken. Indian politics has seen much during the last two decades. Public perception has changed. Doubtless defections effected through political or monetary allurement is extremely disgusting. Doubtless the public shares the disgust expressed by Advani, Karat and other opposition stalwarts. But there is one important difference. Opposition leaders are disgusted with the government. The public is disgusted with the government as well as the opposition. It has revulsion for the entire political class. Opposition leaders, apart from expressing disgust for the government, could do with some self-disgust too.
If the victors stooped to low methods to procure votes did not opposition MPs who defected collude in the same low methods? And were not defections managed through several opposition parties, mostly from Advani's own party? And does not Advani bear some responsibility for elevating to Parliament such dubious characters that are open to allurement? Let Advani refresh his memory.
The first brazen defection from the BJP in the current crisis occurred when Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, its MP from Gonda, walked across to Mulayam Singh's party. While Amar Singh waxed eloquent before media, fellow Thakur Brij Bhushan sat smugly by his side. Should Advani be surprised that this MP defected? There was a delicious irony in the event.
Brij Bhushan Saran Singh as the MP from Gonda led the biggest contingent of activists to demolish the Babri Masjid in December 1992 when Kalyan Singh was UP Chief Minister. Saran Singh then was the darling of the Sangh Parivar and a thorn for Mulayam Singh. A few years later the CBI probing a TADA case against the Dawood Ibrahim gang stumbled on Saran Singh's links with Dawood. He was charged and arrested under TADA. While in jail the election was held. The BJP could not field him. It fielded his wife in his place to exhibit its continued loyalty to the muscle man.
During the time when these events took place this scribe highlighted these facts to reveal the BJP's hollow pretensions about clean politics. Where was Advani then? Later this scribe chanced upon a meeting with the RSS chief. When the latter extolled the high moral values of Hinduism propagated by his organization this scribe referred to the Gonda MP's episode. The RSS chief mumbled a few words about politics being different and lapsed into silence.
Advani should reflect. The country is in a moral crisis. If politicians behave immorally they are not necessarily evil people. They are petty creatures of circumstance seeking individual advancement in a system so debased and corrupt that only evil is allowed to triumph. The system needs to be seriously reappraised. All senior politicians cutting across parties of both the government and the opposition need to put their heads together. To bring this about the leader of the Opposition can play a very crucial role.