At stake is people’s faith in Parliament and democracy
By H. K. Dua

There are times when India has to rise above the ordinary, set its sights high, and tell the world that it has arrived not only as the largest democracy but also as a major power of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, the present is not an ennobling moment of this nation of over a billion people who are helplessly watching all that they would not have liked to see 61 years after Independence.

While the people, particularly the youth, are looking for the Big Change, our MPs are mired in considerations that reflect greater concern for personal gain than for the people they are supposed to represent.

While every citizen, whether active in public life or just living a plain private life, has to place the nation above self, many of the so-called Honourable Members of Parliament are shamelessly looking for their share of kickbacks from the opportunity presented to them by a political crisis that could have been avoided if wisdom and vision had come to prevail.

The seamy goings-on in Delhi, involving shady MPs, the wheeler-dealers and powerbrokers trading in loyalties, are only bringing the present Lok Sabha into public contempt towards the end of its tenure. It is a spectacle which can only erode the people’s faith in democracy and the political system.

Irrespective of the outcome of Tuesday’s vote on the Prime Minister’s motion seeking confidence of the House, many of our worthies must reflect whether they themselves deserve the right to be re-elected in view of their reluctance to stand up for the country and abide by the values that should be dear to anyone who cares for its well-being.

If Dr Manmohan Singh is exuding some confidence that he will win the Lok Sabha vote, it requires a degree of detachment, possibly of hope, that despite the ugliness of politics sans morality, Parliament will support him and, in a way, the nuclear deal, which has spawned the current political crisis.

Dr Manmohan Singh certainly has abiding faith in the uses of the nuclear deal. It can take India into another league and help it sit on the high table of the nuclear-weapon states, set up more nuclear reactors for producing clean energy, ensure nuclear fuel supplies for reactors — existing and likely to be set up — and provide access to sensitive high-technology India would need for its defence, space programme, nuclear reactors and even economic growth.

The Prime Minister presumably is looking ahead and into the future, hoping that the majority of the MPs will also see India as he does and support the nuclear deal — not for his sake but for the sake of the country and its children who have to inherit its future.

Dr Manmohan Singh is not known for striking a pose for the photo-ops or the visitors. But those who have met him believe that his optimism about the confidence motion going through could be based not on vague hopes, but on hard calculations his hardcore tacticians might have made in the party backrooms.

Away from 7 Race Course Road and in the dark world of politics where vision has been blurred by acute myopia and public good overtaken by personal ambitions and greed, murky things are happening that do not bring honour to the country.

Tuesday is a crucial day for the MPs who ought to know that if the people, particularly the young who cannot be taken as disinterested watchers, get disillusioned with the parliamentary system, the elected representatives themselves will have nowhere to hide.

There are quite a number of MPs in different political parties who can still be counted as public-spirited, have the interest of the country in mind and can look far into the direction the country should take. They are the people who should even at this late hour try to ensure that the wishes of the malevolent elements, the rag-tag and the musclemen do not come to prevail.

Much more is at stake than the fate of the Manmohan Singh government and the nuclear deal. Both need to be saved. What also needs to be saved is the people’s faith in the institution of Parliament and democracy.



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