Thursday, July 24, 2008

Indian Democracy: beyond the trust vote

The majority of the people’s representatives of India, better known as members of parliament have kept their trust on the ability and performance of the Manmohan Singh government. The outcome was broadly expected. For the last couple of days, the Prime Minister, his party, and their allies were exceedingly confident of winning the trust vote. A mysterious uncertainty around the events, created by media speculations was proved to be pointless and inaccurate. Looking at the composition of the Indian parliament before the trust vote, the number counts between the two groups were tight but surely the emissaries of the ruling coalition were much clever than their opponents.

It is now reasonably clear that the ploy of survival were planned many days in advance, long before the Left had withdrawn their support. The alliance with Amar Singh and his Samajwadi Party was also the result of a previously plotted stealthy operation. The logic given by the Congress party that they had sensed the ‘conscience’ amongst the MP’s on the nuclear deal correctly and therefore were so confident about the outcome is utter rubbish. They had cunningly played a calculated political game, with lot of undercover transactions and neatly won the trust vote. In the present appalling quality of Indian political biosphere where ‘money doesn't talk, it swears’, winning a vote inside the parliament house requires high caliber players of similar quality. The Congress party and their crooked friends are flawlessly brilliant in this aspect. Compared to them Mr. Prakash Karat and the Left leaders are greenhorns.

Yesterday was a miserable day for Indian democracy. The whole nation, glued in front of television sets viewed the hideous face of our parliamentary democracy where MP’s from the main opposition party displayed bundles of money inside the house to prove that the ruling coalition was directly offering kickbacks to abstain. We saw rowdy members shouting at each other like a bunch of street urchins. We saw senior politicians regularly disrupting the house procedures in the most indecorous manner. And the people of India have to endure this for the sake of saving a government for eight months!

Had the bright smiling face of an ‘apolitical’, spotlessly clean Prime Minister, coming out from the filthy parliament house uplifting his thumb enlighten the Indian public as if he has conquered a great battle on behalf of his fellow citizens? After the results, the craggy words coming out from the foaming lips of Amar Singh were sounding like a rogue delivering sermon. The people of this country must have forgotten the real issue after watching all these puerile disorders from our honorable men and women for two long days. Let us make them remember the issue. The issue was: should India go ahead for the Indo-US nuclear deal? Nineteen decadent votes have settled it.

Manmohan Singh has remarked in his debate speech that Mr. Karat with the other Left leaders has greatly miscalculated the situation while withdrawing their support from the government. He also spoke that he was feeling like a bonded labour under the continuous interference by the Left. Hard words indeed from a crooner! The media immediately jumped upon and persistently started to harp the words. These views are obviously in accordance to the merits of the perceiver. Where is the question of a miscalculation? Did the left really ‘calculate’ anything before taking their decision to withdraw? Honestly speaking, Left’s weakest point is behind their decision there was no calculation.

From the beginning, Left had opposed the nuclear deal from ideological and political grounds. They indisputably believed that the deal was not good for the country. Thus, they tried to resist the stubborn government as a responsible political group. They perceived it as their obligation to the people of India because the UPA government was formed as a result of their support. They tried hard to convince and caution the government not to move ahead with issues which are not included in the Common Minimum Program (CMP), the basis of their support. Was the nuclear deal included in the CMP? When all of their efforts failed, when they clearly understood the obstinate attitude of the government and it’s Prime Minister, they had no other option but to withdraw their support. If they had calculated according to the Prime Minister’s party line, things would have been different.

Was the Prime Minister expecting to strike some sort of a dubious deal with the Left and solve the issue surreptitiously as the Congress party has done with Amar Singh? The Prime Minister was also feeling suffocated like a bonded labour by the constant interference of the Left. This was indeed a truthful confession. How could someone allow such a thing to happen with him when he had long ago merrily enrolled himself as a bonded labour under the US and now resolutely planning to enroll the whole country likewise?


Vinod_Sharma said...

Your analysis is pretty logical, though I hold an opposite view.

Manmohan Singh has, at long last, emerged as the decisive Prime Minister this countyr needs. I for one do not doubt his integrtiy at all. If anything, it is that which has got him this far, and will take take him further too.

As far as the commies are concerned, the less said the better. They are an anachronistic blot on India. Considering what they have done to Somnath Chatterjee, Manmohan's charge about them treating him like a bonded slave looks so real. As a matter of fact, that has been the only way in which commies have treated everybody wherever they have been in power across the world.

Vinod_Sharma said...

The status of an MP after he becomes the Speaker is slightly foggy, He is entitled to resign from his party once he gets that job or remain a party member.

What the CPM could easily have done is that they could have asked him to vote against the government if his vote was required to decide the motion. Now they are making it appear as if he is part of the UPA.

Whatever view we may take, the events of the past few weeks have ceratinly given sufficient cause to worry whether this form of democrcacy can deliver the results that a potential super power expects. No one is above blame.

shubho said...

Do not be prickly to the communists at least concerning the Speaker issue. After being expelled by the party, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee is receiving lot of sympathetic support from odd quarters and might have turned into a sort of a hero to the Indian middle-class by defying the party line. All the sympathies are but for the time being only.

Mr. Somnath Chatterjee has certainly established himself as a fantastic Speaker of the house. But how did he become the Speaker? The Speaker’s post to Mr. Chatterjee was a reciprocal offering by the Congress party to the CPI(M) in return of their support to the UPA government. It is difficult to digest the unfeasible logic propagated by some that soon after his party approved him for the Speaker’s job, Mr. Chatterjee suddenly turned an exceptional person by erasing off the past forty years of his political life and beliefs in one stroke. How could one forget that before he became the Speaker, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee was a highly respected member in the CPI(M) and unquestionably was going to continue as the leader of the party in parliament?

Therefore, in a serious political situation, when the party required him the most his decision to defy his party call and continue as the Speaker was both shocking and too much humiliating for his party. If for arguments sake we consider CPI(M)’s decision as an injustice to Mr. Chatterjee, why Mr. Chatterjee’s decision cannot be considered unjust to his party?

It is too early to comment on why he did so. It could be the result of the brewing generation gap in the party or could be some other unsung reason. But one thing is clear. For the CPI(M) party Somnath Chatterjee’s expulsion was a sad and unhappy decision.

Vinod_Sharma said...

Where has you comment disappeared, the one to which I replied a few minutes back?

shubho said...

Sorry vinod. I accidentally deleted it. Also I have not expected so quick a reply.I have posted the comment again.

Thanks for visiting 'solitude'.

shubho said...

As a reply to your second comment I can say that you have rightly commented that the way Indian democracy is openly displaying its diseases must be a matter of great concern to all of us.

All of us honestly want to believe that the prime minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh is a 'clean' person. But the events that have unfolded in the past few days affirm something different to that notion. He had a personal agenda to implement and to push it forward he has ultimately chosen the murky path. The state of our democracy worked as a catalyst in his favour.

Mavin said...

Political machinations are part of the process. Things become dirty when stakes are high or the stakes are upped for ego reasons.

Stakes were indeed very high here.

Firstly, from the political angle, continued indecision was more harmful at the state and central elections round the corner. You had the Prime Minister who was shoved around as a nobody wanting an image makeover. Cong/UPA had to contend with continuous electoral drubbing and a restive audience on account of runaway inflation. There were also powerful interests, both Indian and foreign, who are interested in the commercial fall-out of the deal.

Given the fractious polity that we have, squabbling groups have proved indecisive or incapable of taking decisions.

It was, therefore, a very palatable proposition that a mainstream national party is wanting to act in “National Interest” and this carried the day.

I think the Left also proved to be a complete greenhorn in media and perception management. Our times lay more emphasis on form rather than content.

Further, I am not convinced about the fairness of our media. Sure enough not so subtle nudging from I&B and all our popular TV channels and print media were willing to read out from a prepared script.

Only history will judge………….we are too close to the events to give a balanced judgment.

shubho said...

Dear Mavin,
The problem with our neo-liberalized Indian middle class is that they get attached easily with anything that endorses their opportunism and therefore feels disturbed by people like Prakash Karat. I completely agree with your comment that we are living in a time where more emphasis is put on form than content. Who cares for content? Barring the Leftists, the whole debate on the nuclear deal has been a formal one.

The regrettable and ghastly events which had occurred in the last few days can only reconfirm the malevolent state of our political biosphere. I do not really care about others but still want to remain hopeful about the Left as an alternative voice despite the fact that, the Left here is too small a force to resist the surge of corruption and immorality. They tried their best to defend against the perilous nuclear agreement and the reform agenda of the UPA and failed. At least for the time being.

The hawks are already on their assignment. We have to remain cautious to the unfurling future actions. History will not only judge our politicians, it will judge us also.