Justice Markandey Katju-
So, at last a coalition government, a multi headed hydra, has been formed in Maharashtra. Uddhav Thackeray head of Shiv Sena has taken oath as Chief Minister, and persons of allied parties, NCP and Congress, have become Ministers. But do they have any principles in common apart from the lust for power and pelf which seems to be the only uniting factor? Shiv Sena, which was earlier allied to BJP, and against Muslims, their goons often attacking them, has suddenly become secular. And the Congress and NCP find it nothing wrong in allying with a party which professes the anti-national ‘son of the soil theory’ which was used to beat up South Indians, Biharis and UPites.
But here comes the rub. What about the portfolios? Who gets the lucrative ones? Who gets finance? Who gets industry? Just like police darogas wanting ‘geela thanas’ ( lucrative police stations ), not the ‘sookha’ ( dry ) ones, a scramble has begun in Maharashtra for the ‘geela’ portfolios.
Politics in India has become devoid of principles, and has become a business, for amassing wealth. Those who talk of secularism are really eyeing the Muslim vote bank, and but for that they would readily throw Muslims to the wolves if it serves their interest. Those who talk of Hindutva, really wish to consolidate the 80% Hindu population in India, who are otherwise deeply divided on caste lines, by spreading communal hatred and inciting communal riots.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, and in India it has become devoid of all principles. The ‘secular’ Farooq Abdullah allied his National Conference with the BJP in the Central Government, and the ‘secular’ Mehbooba Mufti allied her PDP with the BJP in the state. Nitish Kumar keeps flip flopping like a trapeze artist in Bihar, somewhat like the French weathercock Talleyrand, who kept changing sides watching which way the political wind was blowing, and always going over to the winning side in the nick of time, from the French Revolution of 1789 to the Directory of 1795 to Napoleon in 1799 to Louis 18th in 1815 to Louis Philippe in 1830. And did we not have our own Talleyrands like Jagjiwan Ram and Bahuguna who deserted India Gandhi in 1977 when they saw the political wind blowing against her after the Emergency, and joined the Janta Party, or VP Singh who deserted Congress and Rajiv Gandhi, or Charan Singh who changed 3 parties in 3 days?
Winston Churchill, speaking against granting Independence to India, said, “If India becomes free, power will go into the hands of rogues and freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly heads. They will fight among themselves for power and pelf, and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even the air and water would be taxed in India”.
Has this forecast come true?
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.]