Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thoughts On The Day Before The Motion Of Confidence


The nuclear deal will sometime now be passed. Or on the contrary, it won’t be passed. Tomorrow in parliament the confidence motion will be tabled. It will decide the continuation of the incumbent government. The present government is headed by a prime minister who is very clear about the ramifications of the deal. It is an agreement that he has to see through. That is the beginning and the end of what he sees as his side of the bargain. The government is supported by a coalition of parties that came together post-elections, and decided on a Common Minimum Programme. The programme has to a large extent been fulfilled. At that time, when the elections had concluded, and when I was writing my board exams, the government looked completely renewed and enthusiastic. It seemed the perfect coalition. In fact, the government even appeared to befit coming into perpetual incumbency, because at the time, sentiment burgeoned daily and rapidly against a largely aggressive BJP. The other parties that formed the government, or occupied some sort of position in it, regardless of how peripheral or meager, were parties that were immensely glad to set off the BJP on its outward route, leveling recriminations and making resolved statements that clearly let everybody know that they would never like to associate with the party again. It was a slightly murky choice of words. Unclear as to whether they did not intend to associate with the party’s more ‘fascist’ credentials, or were simply aggravated by the anti-incumbency affectation that most others were more than willing to indulge in, the people simply took them at word and recorded all their commitments literatim in the CMP. After all, it was a wave of triumphalism. They seemed eager to say and do anything. They even announced their reclamation of the ‘secular forces’, much beaten and abused at the hands of the now vilified former opponent.

The former opponent really did not play a significant part in the polity for a long time subsequently. They simply languished in their homes, waiting for something substantial to come up. In the states, they reasserted themselves ably, winning a number of state elections. In Uttarakhand, in Andhra Pradesh, in Karnataka, they managed to make an incipient re-entry into the general flow of national politics. Of course, several people noticed, including the Congress party, now fuming and frothing at the seams for want of electoral victories. That however did really nothing to vindicate the BJP. To me it seemed like people were choosing the candidates floated by the party because of the tendencies of local organization. The Congress in these states fared poorly because their leadership lacked a strong element of cohesiveness. They continued to make do with fractions and denominations. The people of the states also perhaps reacted to their feelings about the undemocratic politics of the new central government, now fully released from the rosiness of its inception. Its fascist impositions of communal ‘quotas’ destructively brought about the break-down of the middle-class. By this I mean that the people who sought to achieve faced the bitterest opposition from the government. They aided and abetted communal tendencies to strike for petty deals that served a corrupt and recalcitrant mindset of mediocrity.

The people in the states reacted to that.

But now the nuclear deal has reaffirmed the existence of these parties and these shadowy members of parliament who otherwise do not visibly affect the polity. They have finally emerged from their imposed retirement and fallen back into their wonted ways of creating a nuisance in all places of public policy.

In the early days of the deal’s conception, the BJP met and agreed to support the government on it. Later, after an ‘interaction’ with some of their chief ministers in the states, they willy-nilly began to dither on their commitment. Advani, who had initially voiced his support in the media, later chose to tell the government, no less via the media, that his party men were not prepared to endorse the deal. In all humility, he asseverated his obligation to the verdict of his party. The trouble with such a statement is clear. Perhaps the chief ministers did in fact voice their opposition to the deal. But the question here is, why? None of them are either smart enough to comprehend the technicalities of it, nor are they in any peculiar or any substantial position of power vis-à-vis the state of foreign policy. Why then should their interest be represented in this matter of national concern? Given that they have, as members of a party, a right to express among themselves the need for a common political opinion on the matter, certainly the weightage given to their concerns should not be disproportionately important. Unfortunately, Advani got away with the ruse and the BJP backtracked on their initial, expectedly fraught and retractable promise.

The Hyde Act does not ‘bind’ India. The Vienna Convention states that international treaties override domestic law.

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