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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Defeat of Evil

The Advani Karat Pact

Paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya cha dushkritam
Dharma sansthapanarthaya sambahvami yuge yuge

(Gita 4:8)

(For the upliftment of the good and virtuous
For the destruction of evil
For the re-establishment of natural law
I will come in every age)

So the BJP and the Left and the casteist Mayawati have been defeated conclusively; time to take stock of why they did what they did. A bit of history will help understand what happened.

On August 23, 1939, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin entered into a secret agreement with Germany’s Adolf Hitler. It was the ultimate act of appeasement because Stalin felt that would focus Hitler's attention on Western Europe. On July 8 2008, Prakash Karat made a not-so-secret pact with L K Advani, whose naked ambition is to become India’s Prime Minister.

Karat is a diehard Stalinist, who is enjoying his place under India's democratic sun. Most people believe he gets his marching orders from the mandarins in Beijing. Because the Left is what it is, he remained unchallenged until the Speaker of the House, Somnath Chatterjee, called his bluff with support from the more flexible members of the CPM. He defied Karat and stayed on as Speaker and was quick to call "The Ayes have it" on the voice vote after the debate, rudely disrupted by BJP thugs, over the confidence vote called by the Prime Minister.

Then there’s Advani, who for all the years he’s been in politics, comes off as an amateur actor seeking a role in the major play of governance. For many years he served as the home minister and forced his way into being the deputy prime minister of the clueless Atal Vajpayee. For all the darts, deserved or not, hurled at the current home minister, Shivraj Patil, Advani was clearly the most incompetent incumbent.

On his watch as home minister and deputy prime minister, terrorists were freed and flown by external affairs minister Jaswant Singh in an abject surrender to the world’s worst thugs, the Taliban of Afghanistan. Under his watch also, Islamic terrorists attacked Parliament House with a view to taking Indian lawmakers hostage. And on and on the story goes. There were so many terrorist incidents, including the attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat, under his dispensation that when he gets up in Parliament to attack this government for being soft on terrorism, he comes off sounding like a hypocrite.

Remember, this man is so desperate that he has become discombobulated. He went to his native province of Sindh in Pakistan and was so "moved" that he lost all sense of bearing; he ended up calling Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, a secular leader. He forgot that Jinnah led the Muslim League and asked for a Pakistan as a home for the Muslims of British India. Jinnah's intractable stand caused the Partition and a loss of millions of lives and the largest transfer of populations the world has ever known to this day.

Sadly, Advani and his family were among the victims of Jinnah’s communal calculations. But then Jinnah was personally suave and secular and used the communal divide just to grab power. Advani understands that; he took out his rath yatra in the 1980s that left thousands dead in it‘s wake. Like Jinnah, Advani has cynically manipulated communal divisions in India in his no-holds-barred pursuit of power.

Between the ideologue Karat and the incompetent Advani, our country is being held hostage today. They have come together to try and topple India’s most liberal and reformist government. This is not the first time that India’s Hindu nationalists and communists have come together. They colluded in 1977 to support the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai and then in 1980 to support V P Singh, the feudal thakur who managed through sheer deviousness to become the prime minister for a few months.

Both experiments ended in disaster. Who can forget Madhu Dandavate, the finance minister in V P Singh’s ill-starred government? A man of great integrity, Dandavate was nevertheless an inexperienced person with no sense of the importance of his position. His first comment on assuming office in 1989, “The coffers are empty,” set the stage for the rapid decline of India into bankruptcy. The man who presided over the mortgage of India’s gold reserves to the Bank of England was Yashwant Sinha, an equally incompetent bureaucrat who served as finance minister after Dandavate. Sinha is today a leading light of the BJP, partly because he is among the few articulate people in the saffron combine.

The communists and the communalists joined forces in opposing the government over the nuclear deal. The communists’ objection is bigoted; they hate the US; the communalists’ opposition is purely opportunistic because they would rather have done the deal. Who can forget Jaswant Singh strutting around the place, dropping names: “My friend Strobe.” A senior British executive told me that he was struck by the number of times this obstreperous BJP minister dropped the name in a 15-minute conversation.

This is why, despite the desperate 11th-hour drama of dubious BJP MPs smuggling currency into Parliament House, the Advani Karat pact was defeated convincingly on July 22. They are the forces of darkness and India has already awoken to that Tagorean heaven of freedom, “where the mind is without fear and the head held high.”

copyright rajiv desai 2008