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A pyrrhic victory

A pyrrhic victory

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 23, 2008

Congress has lost moral authority

The Congress has reason to celebrate, as has the Prime Minister. Having accomplished the task of mustering a majority in Parliament after being reduced to a minority, the UPA Government can now continue to be in office. It has overcome the immediate threat of losing power following the Left's decision to withdraw support over the surreptitious manner in which the contentious India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement is being foisted on the nation. Yet, it will be no exaggeration to suggest that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet stand denuded of moral authority and the power they will henceforth wield will be seen as tainted if not illegitimate. For, although the UPA Government has won the vote in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday evening, the manner in which it stacked up numbers in its favour has resulted in its losing the trust of the people. It is at best a pyrrhic victory which will delight only those who have scant regard and even lesser respect for ethics and probity in politics. The scandalous scene witnessed by millions of people, courtesy live telecast of proceedings inside the Lok Sabha, of three BJP MPs depositing bundles of currency notes, given to them to abstain from voting and thus help the Government to survive, on the table of the House, has not only served to substantiate stories about Opposition MPs being bribed but also exposed sanctimonious and self-righteous UPA and Congress leaders for what they really are: Cynical politicians who can stoop to any level to retain power, never mind the consequences of their deed, namely the erosion of people's faith in democracy. Critics would argue that it would be naïve to expect the Congress and its 'friends' to act any differently; a party that is scornful of democracy cannot be seen to be upholding the dharma of parliamentary traditions. Let us not forget that another Congress Government had won a confidence vote by bribing MPs; coincidentally or otherwise, Mr Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister of that Government. His 'conscience' had not bothered him on that occasion too.

However, it would be wrong to attribute the UPA's success entirely to Parliament being reduced to a bazaar. The BJP, despite its bluster, has once again failed abysmally to fulfil its role as the main Opposition party. Its leadership appeared divided on the issue of defeating the Government; its political management and coordination left much to be desired; and, notwithstanding Mr LK Advani's sharp attack, it failed to enthuse its MPs to close ranks and act in a determined manner. The quarry was in sight, the goal was achievable, but the BJP floundered, and miserably so. But if we were to dispassionately look at the debate that preceded Tuesday's vote, we would find that Mr Advani has emerged taller than the Prime Minister. The latter's reply to the debate, which begins with a vitriolic personal attack on Mr Advani and meanders into an unconvincing report card of his Government's 'performance' and equally, if not more, unpersuasive defence of the nuclear deal -- which increasingly looks like a 'private treaty' rather than a bilateral agreement -- proves three points. Mr Singh is not an 'accidental' politician; he is small-hearted; and, he is mean-minded. It does not behove the Prime Minister of India to resort to such deplorable language. Meanwhile, it is not surprising that the Americans were first off the block to congratulate Mr Singh, even before the votes had been counted and the result was officially declared. After all, not many Prime Ministers 'report' to the US President.

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