On June 15, 1215, in a meadow at Runnymede, about 20 miles from London, King John agreed to the extensive demands of the barons, the most powerful men in the kingdom. Several copies of the agreement were written in Latin on calfskin, and the royal great seal in wax was attached with ribbon or cord. Four copies of the original Magna Carta survive. The Magna Carta is taken as the document which was the precursor to the modern democracy. It did not invent democracy as many <g data-gr-id="47">claim</g>. In fact, the original Magna Carta had its genesis in the intra-elite struggle between 40 barons and their king. Prime Minister Modi at this precise moment in time must wish that he could sign a Magna Carta with the rambunctious bunch of Opposition Congress leaders, who true to the script, like the elite barons of the day of yore, have stalled the business of running a country completely. Except that Modi is stuck with a Hobsons choice, which is to say that he has no other choice but to brazen this out.
Considering that he came to power on a plank of running a clean government, he can’t ask Sushma Swaraj to step down over Lalit Gate. He can neither take the attack to the opposition over their double standards because in this case there are no double standards at play. And neither can he like King John sign a truce in the form of a vainglorious document like the Magna Carta. The result of this stalemate is a washed-out monsoon session which has yielded little to nothing in its brief period of functioning. What is worse parliamentary democracy has plumbed new depths of deplorable behaviour. In what has to be a shameful first barricades were put up on either side of the secretary general’s table in the Lok Sabha. The move came after nearly three weeks of unruly protests where opposition members, led by Congress, used placards to block the Speaker’s vision. Members were also seen climbing on the low platform that was meant for the secretary general’s chair and leaning on it. This is probably the first time that a portion of the House has been fenced. It is ironic that the speaker of the lower house of the largest democracy in the world has to barricade herself behind fences. Not surprisingly this is not the last of the highlight reel which has been seen in the past few days.
Sushma Swaraj’s spirited defence and scathing attack on the Congress in the Lok Sabha has to be seen in the light of the reality that just because the Congress is culpable of past sins does not absolve her of her own alleged sins. Continuing the trend of high pitched theatrics BJP MP Dushyant Singh (Vasundhara Raje’s son) shouted, How much black money has Rahul Gandhi’s aunt got? Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi made a rare dash towards the well and flew into an unprecedented fit of rage. Sonia repeatedly told the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan something to the effect that the BJP MP’s remark was unacceptable. After the House was adjourned, Congress and Left members were seen congratulating Sonia for the way she had taken on the ruling party. Except that there is nothing worth celebrating in either how Sushma Swaraj tore into Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for it represented an ad hominem attack of a very personal nature. Neither was there anything worth celebrating in how the Congress MPs made Sonia Gandhi’s protest a festival of sorts. In the end, the one who bore the brunt was neither the BJP government neither the Congress opposition. It was the common taxpayer whose money is being flushed down the drain in this theatre of the absurd.