The new motto of NDA govt: Say nothing, do nothing
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The new motto of NDA govt: Say nothing, do nothing

Here is a bit of unsolicited advice for our politicians. It comes from no one less than Abraham Lincoln, who said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

columns Updated: Jun 28, 2015 09:04 IST
Hindustan Times
Lalit Modi,Vasundhara Raje,Sushma Swaraj

Here is a bit of unsolicited advice for our politicians. It comes from no one less than Abraham Lincoln, who said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

But this seems precisely what politicians in at least two parties are trying to do. And it is not as though those from other parties have not tried to do the same on occasion.

Let us take the Lalit Modi affair since the news channels are hyperventilating over this at the cost of all other news.

So we see Lalit speaking to an interviewer on the Adriatic coast in Montenegro, Lalit in triumphant dance mode after an IPL win, Lalit supine in his private jet en route to Cuba to meet his new best friend Raul Castro.

With each salvo from the former IPL czar, we find the BJP digging itself further and further into a hole. Now that the situation has got so murky and vitiated, it seems unlikely that the monsoon session of Parliament will be able to transact any business worth the name.

The Opposition, still smarting at its monumental loss in the elections, scents blood and will play it out for all it is worth. Now, only the most naive of you will believe that the external affairs minister, vast years of experience to her credit, could have thought that it was kosher to help a man wanted by the Indian authorities for financial impropriety, even though there may have been a humanitarian angle involved in this.

But she did and she could not deny it. The government could have acted lickety split and asked her to step aside until a probe could or could not exonerate her.

The PM has a reputation as being a decisive man with no stomach for dithering. So, instead of allowing things to drift with more and more dirt surfacing each day, the tide should have been stemmed on the spot.

The case of Vasundhara Raje is even more simple.

She does not seem to have any answer as to why she sought to hide her help to Lalit from the Indian authorities, except an initial statement that she did not know what documents were being discussed.

That fell flat when her signature turned up on the documents supporting Lalit Modi’s immigration application. Her son’s involvement is quite clearly suspect.

Yet, along comes Nitin Gadkari, no paragon of virtue himself, and gives her a clean chit. And the home minister saying that this is the NDA government, not the UPA, though I fail to understand what he is trying to say.

This is not the governance people signed up for when they gave the BJP a decisive mandate.

The HRD minister produces a series of differing degrees. The government explains nothing except that this is some sort of conspiracy. The Maharashtra minister for women and child development seems to have thrown away a lot of money on supplies for anganwadis to suspect persons.

No, there is no wrongdoing, says the government.

The problem now is that even if the government acts, it will be seen as forced and belated. The Opposition has got its ammunition ready.

Yes, the Congress does have many skeletons in its cupboard. But the ruling party, which came to power promising probity, has been caught up short.

And with this, we can expect the governance that we so craved after the starvation diet we were on during the UPA government to go for a toss.

But, the BJP can take heart, it is not alone. With an equally, if not more, decisive mandate, we see AAP frittering away its advantage by the day.

Again, by simply refusing to act in time. So we saw the unsavoury spectacle of the law minister being accused of holding a fake degree. No, no, yelled the minister, I am as pure as the driven snow, only to find his bluster crumble after a bit of deft footwork by the police.

The CM should have immediately asked him to step down pending a probe, but he was too busy fighting off the lieutenant governor. Then comes a man who has already caused the party embarrassment earlier, former law minister Somnath Bharti.

His wife has accused him of harassment and domestic violence. And what does our Arvind do?

Nothing at all, basking in the dubious glow of a half-witted ad in which a multi-tasking woman asks god to protect ‘hamara Arvind’.

And yes, she is a woman who does everything around the house, while her dummy of a husband watches television. Arvind’s contribution to gender equality, I presume.

Both the NDA and BJP have been tardy in their responses to scandals. So these have assumed gigantic proportions in this age of social media and 24 by 7 television news.

So much so, that if a controversy breaks out in the morning, by afternoon it is trending on social media and anchors are reporting it as though it is akin to the sinking of the Titanic.

The PM is media savvy as is Arvind, though I am beginning to doubt the latter is after the nauseating ad. They should have been quick off the mark, be seen to act, sort of shoot first and ask questions later if you don’t find that too offensive.

But both have done nothing. The BJP has rallied around its ‘offenders’, AAP has let things ride. This is not governance, this is a dereliction of duty.

Both Arvind, for, according to the ad, that is how we should refer to him, and Modi promised quick action, on the economy, on weeding out corruption, on ending crony capitalism, of putting people at the centre of development, of being people who were different from your common and garden politician, of being people who will make a difference.

Inaction always gives the opposition a handle to beat you with. This is just what both Arvind and Modi have handed their opponents.

The familiar logjams in governance can be anticipated as the Opposition sharpens its knives. For Arvind, the first 100 days have produced nothing much to write home about.

In the case of Modi, the first year has brought about some economic reforms and foreign policy successes but it has not enhanced his reputation as an implacable foe of impropriety. Both AAP and the BJP have huge problems to tackle.

So far, the attitude of the people has been tolerant. But I get a feeling that their patience is reaching breaking point. No amount of yoga promotion or self-serving ads will obscure the fact that AAP and BJP simply don’t want to act against their own.

If they had, the Opposition would have had the wind taken out of its sails and we could have hoped for real governance to kick in.

But like the unending Lalit Modi and Somnath Bharti saga, we have to be content with histrionics, hearsay and sometimes heresy when we want governance, growth and good days.

First Published: Jun 27, 2015 23:17 IST