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Posted at: Aug 10, 2017, 12:47 AM; last updated: Aug 10, 2017, 12:47 AM (IST)

Dabang-giri rolled back

Ahmed Patel's fifth term in Rajya Sabha
Dabang-giri rolled back

Because the BJP and its vociferous apologists in the media had over-excitedly invested a disproportionate amount of stakes in the contest for the third Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel's victory acquires a new sharp edge. And since Mr Patel’s close proximity to Congress president Sonia Gandhi was repeatedly underlined, his re-election to the Rajya Sabha for a fifth term should be — to use a much-abused cliché — a morale booster for the Congress Party. Ahmed Patel’s victory in the face of a most keenly contested political battle is the first good news the Congress has had in recent days; and, vice-versa, it is the first reverse the BJP and its much-vaunted political managers have suffered. If the BJP national strategists were hoping to inflict a crippling psychological defeat on the Congress a few months before the Gujarat assembly poll, that ploy has now to be seen as a failed strategy. 

Perhaps the most gratifying part of the drama that took place in Gandhinagar and then in Delhi has to be the role of the Election Commission of India. As it was, the integrity of the election process had stood vastly compromised by all the extraneous players and calculations that had been so demonstratively at work till the counting of votes. The Election Commission redeemed itself and appears to have recouped its prestige by refusing to get intimidated by the ruling party. After all, those who preside over constitutional institutions have no obligation to adjust themselves to the convenience of the political dominance of the day.    

The outcome of the Gandhinagar drama has a meaning way beyond Gujarat. Of late, we have scripted a Machiavellian narrative that places maximum premium on ‘winning’ at all cost — to the total exclusion of ethical considerations. In this narrative poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of the state machinery for intimidation are all commended as resourcefulness. The winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also of possible criminality. It is this creeping ‘new normal’ of political (im)morality that stands refuted in Gandhinagar.

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