The famous advertisement issued by H Vasanthakumar, M.A., the punchline exhorts people to “join hands to save democracy” and to “establish Congress rule at the Centre”
On May 20, a day after the BJP regime quit for want of numbers before the trust vote, H Vasanthakumar, a Congress Legislator from Tamil Nadu and State party unit’s vice president, issued a full-page advertisement in a leading national English daily, congratulating his party’s national president “Rahul ji” for having “saved democracy by establishing majority rule in Karnataka”. The advertisement displayed a huge cutout of Rahul Gandhi, a string of photographs of lesser leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, P Chidambaram, besides others. In addition, a picture of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi too featured. This was no occasion for a Congressman to crack jokes — it was on the eve of Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary.
The saviour of democracy has no faith in the fidelity of his own party MLAs. He can believe that the BJP is out to purchase them, but his action leads one to assume that he also believes his Legislators are willing to be sold
Let’s go through the sequence of events to understand how Rahul Gandhi ‘saved’ democracy in Karnataka. His party secured less than 80 seats in a House of 224 (222 went to poll); this was down from 122 it had got in the 2013 Assembly election. More than a dozen of its sitting Ministers were defeated. The then incumbent Chief Minister belonging to the Congress lost resoundingly from one constituency and just about scraped through from a second. On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party multiplied its 2013 numbers — from 40 to 104 — and emerged as the single largest party within striking distance of the halfway mark. Good enough reasons for the Congress to concede defeat. But democracy had to be saved.
And so to keep the democratic spirit alive, it told the party which had finished last — the Janata Dal (Secular) — to form the Government in partnership with it. The Janata Dal (Secular), with under 40 seats and represented largely from just one region of the State, was offered the chief ministership. The two had fought the election as bitter enemies, but that is of little consequence when democracy is under threat. The JD (S) agreed, and the numbers are taken together stacked up favourably. The BJP was out and democracy survived.
A few days earlier, there was another instance of how Rahul Gandhi saved democracy. Surely under instructions from him and under the supervision of his lieutenants, Gehlot and Azad, the newly-elected Congress MLAs were herded like sheep into a bus and moved from one destination to another before they were presented in the House for the trust vote. Media reports said they were not allowed to meet their family or retain with them their mobile phones. Also, they were kept under the strict supervision of trusted aides to ensure they did not bolt or reach out to the rival camp. At the time of writing, they are still in captivity — a state in which they are expected to be until HD Kumaraswamy of the JD (S) is sworn in as Chief Minister. We don’t know if their freedom will remain curtailed till the time Kumaraswamy wins his trust vote.
The saviour of democracy has no faith in the fidelity of his own party MLAs. He can believe that the BJP is out to purchase them, but his action leads one to assume that he also believes his Legislators are willing to be sold. The Congress let it be known to the media that it had taped evidence of money being offered to its MLAs to defect to the BJP before the trust motion. But a Congress leader has now said on record that there was no such attempt — meaning that the tapes were doctored and the news false. These falsehoods must, however, be considered acceptable when the larger aim is to protect democracy.
Returning to the famous advertisement issued by H Vasanthakumar, M.A., the punchline exhorts people to “join hands to save democracy” and to “establish Congress rule at the Centre”
The Congress’s expertise in saving democracy when in power is well known. It did that with the imposition of Emergency; by sacking a number of non-Congress regimes in States under flimsy pretexts— recall the immediate aftermath of the Babri mosque demolition when the Congress Government at the Centre not just dismissed the Kalyan Singh regime in Uttar Pradesh but also those BJP ones in a couple of other States in one sweep, using the Ayodhya pretext; and also by using Governors who brazenly carried out the Congress agenda and later faced the court’s wrath. The list is too long to be reproduced here. Saviours of democracy (and this includes a section of the commentariat and the media) quote the Governors’ “questionable” conduct — from Goa to Manipur to Arunachal Pradesh — in the Modi regime but gloss over the innumerable instances during various dispensations of the Congress. And one hasn’t even listed the number of times democracy was saved when the Congress at the Centre sacked non-Congress regimes under ridiculous charges.
Returning to the famous advertisement issued by H Vasanthakumar, M.A., the punchline exhorts people to “join hands to save democracy” and to “establish Congress rule at the Centre”. The first call may be palatable to the regionalist satraps, but the second would be difficult to digest. After all, regional leaders can save democracy on their own; they don’t need the Congress, do they?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.