Millennium Post

Hollowness of ‘secular’ leaders, exposed!

It has been rightly said that in Indian politics, nothing is predictable and nothing is unpredictable. The hobnobbing of Ramvilas Paswan with BJP is further authenticating this saying. With the collapse of Soviet Union, the politics based on ideology has too collapsed and what we are watching in India is the ideology based on power politics. We knew Paswan as a leader is fighting for the cause of social justice and secularism. His secular credential was questioned when he joined hands with the BJP before 1999 Lok Sabha election, splitting his Janata Dal in Janata Dal (U) and Janata Dal (S). In 1998 Lok Sabha election, his Dal was mauled in Bihar. Though, he himself had won the election, other leaders of his Dal including Sharad Yadav had bitten the dust. So the logic of power politics taught him to align with BJP. It is ironical that Ramvilas Paswan had voted against the Vajpayee government in no trust motion in Lok Sabha. Since, the government had lost only by one vote; Ramvilas Paswan could claim credit for the downfall of the government. After pulling down the NDA government, he joined the same alliance during the Lok Sabha election of 1999.

What was his logic to join the NDA at that time? The logic forwarded by one of the spokesmen of Paswan’s Janata Dal, was that ‘to protect your vichaardhara (ideology), you have to be in dhara (mainstream politics)’. Leaders like Ramvilas Paswan think that they can remain in the mainstream politics only by remaining in power. Once you are out of power, you are out of mainstream politics and bereft of power, you cannot hold on to your ideology. In other words their ideology rotates around power politics.

Ramvilas is not alone to have his power based ideology. Indian politics was entering into the coalition era in nineties. That era is still not over. The ideology is the first victim of coalition. Coalition is made in the name of serving the national interest. By giving a government, some national interest is indeed served, but the ideology takes the backseat and what remains the main concern of the politicians entering into coalition is power. We have seen it in India and all parties claiming to be the champions of their brand of ideology have compromised them for the sake power. We know how the Left leaders were criticising the New Economic Policy launched by Manmohan Singh under Narasimha Rao government, but once they formed a coalition to install a non Congress non BJP government in 1996, they forgot to check the forward march of the so called New Economic Policy. During Narasimha Rao regime, P Chidambaram was forced to resign after the news of his involvement in a scam. Left leaders were more vocal in their demand to sack P Chidambaram, but the same Chidambaram was given Finance Ministry to take New Economic Policy forward. Even BJP was against some of the programmes launched under the NEP, but the Vajpayee government went on pursuing the same economic
programmes with greater zeal.

Leaders of almost all parties have enjoyed the fruits of power, either in state or central government or in both directly or indirectly. Power has dented the ideology of almost all parties and corrupted their leaders (leaders of Left parties are exceptions). This has made their politics dependent on power, not on struggle of ideology. Ideology is just like a mask, which is changed at regular or irregular intervals. Now Ramvilas Paswan is changing the mask. He had left NDA government in 2002 protesting against the inaction of the Central Government in taking any action against Narendra Modi and his Gujarat government for the alleged complicity in riots, which had followed the burning of a train at Godhra.

By his resignation, Paswan became the champion of secularism, though it was not a secret that he was fuming over his demotion by Atal Behari Vajpayee. Vajpayee had shifted him to Coal Ministry from Communication and he was not happy with the new Ministry. The main reason for leaving the government was that demotion. But, the Gujarat events gave him opportunity to rebuild his image of a secularist leader committed to protect the Muslim interests. He continued with this image for the next 12 years and he was the most vocal political leader to criticise Narendra Modi. In fact, his resignation demanding the dismissal of Modi government was his USP (Unique Sales Proposition) for the last 12 years. Now Paswan is being led by the same power based ideology. He had lost last Lok Sabha election of 2009. He is in Rajya Sabha because of the support of Lalu Yadav. His party lost Assemble Election of 2010, too.

His political future is at stake. That is why; he does not want to take any risk this time. He knows that the chances of his success are brighter with Narendra Modi. That is why he is making an alliance with the same Narendra Modi, who was ostensibly the reason for his quitting the Vajpayee government. Narendra Modi must be the happiest person on this development. By making Ramvilas Paswan kneeling down before him, he has exposed the hollowness of the secularism propagated by the self styled secular politicians of India.

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