So, what’s new? Shiv Sena Supremo Uddhav Thackeray, son of Balasaheb Thackeray, who gave birth to SS, has assumed office as Chief Minister of the richest State in India viz. Maharashtra. It is a coalition Government – christened as Maha Vikas Aghadi , with National Congress Party and Indian National Congress, as alliance partners. And the first Thackeray from the family to occupy this office, while Aditya Thackeray, Balasaheb grandson, became the first scion to get into electoral politics as MLA.
It is all strange. Politics is the art of the possible. ‘They’ say a week is a long time in politics. Whoever ‘they’ is. We all saw it proved when Uddhav was slated to stake claim and become a Chief Minister, midnight events made mincemeat and mockery of headlines on print media Pan India. In a veritable coup, Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in by the Governor along with Ajit Pawar as his Deputy. Fadnavis had given a letter of support to Governor claiming NCP backing of all 54 MLAs.
Of course, what else. The top court was sucked into the vortex of political thicket, and called upon to perform its constitutional duty. Typically, the apex court directed a floor test on 28th, Nov, 2019, denying the 30th Nov, deadline, generously granted by the Governor. That set the cat among the pigeons in the BJP camp. Modi-Shah combine’s Chanakya intervention was scuppered. Their midnight rush was exposed as a thoughtless and hasty master stroke of political foolhardiness not wizardry. Excuses have been proffered for their Pawar embrace and least convinced were BJP leaders themselves.
For a week, Uddhav Thackeray was stunned into silence. Everyone doubted everyone else. Stories were circulated that Sharad Pawar had sent a Trojan horse in Ajit Pawar to lead BJP up the garden path and puncture any possible claim by them to occupy moral high ground in the political stakes. Media, both print and electronic, already taken for a ride for a week, was unwilling to take a firm call. They were floating conspiracy theories galore and believing the worst about every actor in the fast paced drama enacted for public consumption.
No one wanted to rule out anything or any combination. The permutations and combinations outnumbered what mathematicians Bhaskara or Ramanujan, could conceive of. The atmosphere was totally polluted and nothing could be seen or believed, beyond one’s own self, and there was self doubt too. The political actors in our financial capital were outperforming each other, in falling over backwards, downwards, upwards and any which way wards, shaming Olympian gymnasts in contortions, twists and turns. We were left gaping in wonder, who would land with whom, when the din and dust settled.
Even after the threesome have entered into matrimony, for now, it is inherently abhorrent, considering the visceral hatred SS has for the other two alliance partners and their leaders and they had for SS’ constant embrace with BJP and Hindutva. Truth is that the secularism bogey that got these ‘characters’ together to rhyme in symphony, on at least the lead theme against BJP is buried for good. And that is good and not jarring.
It was a contrived debate of convenience. It was trumpeted, for there was no other workable glue. Now that Art.370 and Ramjanmabhoomi may no longer be on the table as ‘agendas to be’, only Uniform Civil Code remains unaccomplished. And that too is no big hassle now, considering Triple Talaq has introduced harmony or marriage equality, among all communities.
The best result that has emerged from this churning in Maharashtra is that all the political parties, across the divide, stand exposed. There is no ideological divide left for them to be distinguished from one another. Opportunism is the sole and solitary presiding deity, for all of them.
We the People vote in, our candidates. The expectation is that they may show fidelity to the expressed franchise and mandate. And Anti defection Law was expected to forcibly turn them into moral beings. Alas, you can never legislate morality. The crevices in the statute and interstices are open for exploitation and law has done no catch up, with these cunning craftsmen, who outwit the draftsmen with ease.
There is therefore nothing left for us to be surprised, least of all to be shocked. We have seen it all. Recent happenings in Tamil Nadu, in the wake of Madam Jayalalitha’s demise: Karnataka, after the 2019 Assembly elections when B.S. Yeddyurappa fell short of majority: and now Maharashtra, have immuned us all lock, stock and barrel. And Supreme Court observed on 29th Nov 2019, in the context of Maharashtra elections, “Political morality is different from Constitutional morality. Don’t get confused. Any political party is free to join any other for Government formation or for any other common purpose”. Wonderful.
Now, we know it all dear reader. The oracle from the pulpit is – “Why look for Morality in Politics?” It is not there anymore. It is not meant to be there. Constitutional morality is a different ball game. Why mix up the metaphors and make a fool of ourselves. The message is simple. Politics is Politics. Politics is for Power. In the grab for power, let neither Constitution nor morality be hurdles. They are not. They can never be. We now know for sure.
Nanabhoy Ardeshir Palkhivala worried 30 years ago, “The quality of our public life has reached its nadir. Politics has become tattered and tainted with crime. India today is a living example of the fact that cynicism corrupts and absolute cynicism corrupts absolutely. The greatest shortage in India today is of that rare commodity-character. What distresses me the most in India is the total absence of character. What disturbs me is not the corruption, the misconduct, the degradation: what distresses me is the public apathy and acceptance of them as facts of life.”
Now, the larger question. If ‘they’ are all in it together, for the ‘same’- power, then why this pretence of differences in ideology or practices, between ‘them’. Why take us for a ride? We can look elsewhere for better entertainment. Let us get real. Now, tell me who has not allied with who, at one time or other. You would struggle to isolate any.
Why not then BJP tie up with Indian National Congress and trump the rest in one fell swoop? Why not AIADMK align with DMK and swallow the opposition for good? Why not? The benefits flowing out of such a dalliance would be humongous. Not only for the parties. But for us We The People too. The ideological food fights between them on the idiot box would miraculously end and our drawing rooms will breathe the silence, it desperately seeks.
Come on, don’t tell me, it is a crazy or a ludicrous balloon to float. Really? Wait, don’t jump to hasty conclusions. You have not seen the worst from our politicians yet, afflicted by the disease of power, pelf and indulgence in corruption. In Politics, anything goes. Politics is the Art of the Possible. Nothing is impossible. And for our professional politicians, the Impossible too is eminently Possible.
(Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan- Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)