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Through the lens of morality

Through the lens of morality

The Gujarat election results which have seen a sixth consecutive victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party has been interpreted in an interesting way by the losers and by those who support the losers and side with them in order to try and buttress their pipe dream of leading India in 2019. The Congress, led by its leader who has seen maximum electoral defeats has called the Gujarat verdict a "moral victory" for the Congress, while Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, whose party members have already started drumming up her hopes for Delhi in 2019 has called the verdict a "moral defeat" for BJP.

All of a sudden, why is so much morality being showered on an electoral victory in which the most "immoral" words and manners were used and expressed against Narendra Modi. Moreover, what after all is a moral victory in an electoral battle, where one fights to win and not complain? Rahul Gandhi's sudden recollection of the Bhagavad Gita's dictum thus a few hours before the results were misplaced, the Gita certainly teaches dispassionate or non-attached action, but the dictum also makes it clear that such an action needs to be perfect, needs to focused on the goal and not become an alibi for justifying failure. Aspiring for victory in an electoral battle is must and is natural; it is only losers who speak of moral victory and defeat. One is reminded of Ram Manohar Lohia's observation on our attitude to power, "The greatest test for any political party lies in its will for power. A curious obscurity has been allowed to grow around this will in our country as if it were sinful or at least ugly to want power. After all, a political party exists because of policies and programmes which it believes essential for the nation and the world and which it must equip with the force of the government."
The Communist parties, which have turned into glorified trumpeters for the Congress and its first family have also jumped into the fray and instead of seriously debating on how to resurrect their sagging fortunes, are now confabulating on how to prop up the Congress. The confabulations will reach no conclusion except that it will create more dialectical divisions within a party, already infested by non-performing leaders, failed ideologues and depleting cadres.
All of sudden an electoral victory and electoral battle is being examined under the lens of morality by a party like the Congress which has, in the past five odd decades, worked to decimate all our democratic institutions and has reputedly mocked our democratic aspirations. However, let us speak of the Congress because, though Mamata's party men have started smoking the pipe dream of her occupying the Delhi seat, the dream and efforts to achieve it will remain a non-starter.
That Modi rode a seaplane generated sneer among the so-called elite sections in these parties. An example that may be cited is that of the now semi-superannuated Trinamool Congress leader Krishna Bose, who complained and complained in the columns of a Bengali daily that Modi was not the first one to ride a seaplane that Sarat Chandra Bose had done it in 1946 and had taken off from the Hooghly and landed in Rangoon. What Bose, of course, forgot to cite was how was it that in 1946 Sarat Babu had the time to ride seaplanes when Bengal was in the throes of convulsion? Bose also forgets to cite that Sarat Babu had been literally born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth and thus his riding a seaplane indicated nothing in terms of his transformation or that of Bengal's. Instead of riding seaplanes at that point of time, Sarat Babu ought to have disassociated himself from the chimerical and dangerous scheme of "United Sovereign Bengal" hatched by the kingpin of the 1946 Direct Action H.S.Suhrawardy. Only Dr. Syam Prasad Mookerjee's leadership dissolved that effort and saved a portion of Bengal. Modi riding a seaplane in Gujarat is symbolic of the path of progress that the state has traversed under him and also that someone like him, having risen through the rank could reach a clear pinnacle of leadership through which he could radiate a distinctly aspirational message.
However, let us return to the moral victory bit. What moral victory is the Congress celebrating when all its seniors' leaders lost the elections in the state? What moral victory does the Congress and its drumbeaters speak of when throughout the entire campaign and much before the dates were announced all that the Congress did was to push the caste narrative in the forefront and support such self-styled leaders whose entire politics was based on abuse, subterfuge and false promises?
The Congress's past record of governance in Gujarat had pushed the state to the brink, those who still recall those years shudder at the thought of that phase returning when curfews and caste conflicts were the order of the day. What the Congress repeatedly displays is arrogance in defeat and refuses to seriously introspect on the fact that despite its attempt to divide Gujarat's society along caste and religion one saw an overwhelming vote for BJP, especially from those sections that the Congress projected as being disaffected with BJP. It has also not been able to explain away the fact that BJP's vote share increased and now stands at nearly 50 per cent, a huge feat for a party that has been in power for over two decades and has had to face and address various issues and challenges.
What, however, the Gujarat elections really throw up is what Prime Minister Modi cautioned while addressing workers on the evening of the victory, he observed that throughout this phase concerted efforts were made to re-inject the poison of casteism into the veins of Gujarat and to bring back an era of chronic instability and fear. "It has taken a lifetime for workers like us", he pointed out, "to cleanse the state of that poison". The Gujarat election results must reinforce in those who believe in a new Indian narrative, the determination to resist those efforts of re-injecting that divisive poison.
(The author is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal.)

Anirban Ganguly

Anirban Ganguly

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