• kewal sethi

party with a difference

party with a difference

(this was written in 2012)

every time an incident happens which shows difference of opinion in bjp, there is the invariable comment that party which claims  to be different is not different from other parties. they are assailed when someone is alleged to be aiming for prime ministership, when someone claims for chief ministership, when some cartoons appear in the textbooks, when someone is caught in some kind of misdemeanor.

why do such comments appear? these are because we are mentally shocked. indians have always been rajbhakts. it is our belief that king can do no wrong. we are hero worshippers. the hero is of typical filmi style – not a single fault,, all virtues. any weakness is anathema to us. even a slight departure from the expected behaviour shocks us. 'the king is divinity' has been the watchword of ours. it does not matter whether the king is from our own clan or is an invader. we tolerated the benevolent kings as well the tyrannical ones without batting an eye lid. the pathans, the turks, the mongols kings were as venerable as our own. the englishman was as good as the local maharaja. hence any departure from this norm is disturbing.

further we are used to follow the leader. if we accept him or her, we do it in totality. he is the model person. we expect others also to follow the same tradition. we may indulge in palace intrigues but we would like to appear as a solid united set up to the outsider. one party one leader. one movie, one hero. that is why the going ons in bjp shock us.

but still bjp is a party with a difference. in which other party you will find the president being challenged on his views about a person. (advani re jinnah) and forced to withdraw his remarks and leave the presidency. which other party president will keep the membership of a newly admitted person in abeyance because the workers do not like the development (babu singh kushwaha and gadkari). where will you find a dozen persons vying to be the chief of the party or the prime minister or the chief minister. our understanding is that leadership is hereditary. the prince charming succeeds the king or the president. can you imagine kushwah to challenge behan ji; or vayalar ravi to be prime minister; or mukul roy to be trinmool chief? whether akhilesh should be a chief minister or not is a matter between the father and the son.

about democracy, i recall an anecdote. the six year old students happen to find a cat in the class. discussion started on whether it was a male or a female. the teacher tried to divert the discussion but without success. finally one child said, we can find out easily. the  teacher braced herself for what was to follow. but the suggestion was that "we can vote on it". to my mind this is how ingrained the idea of democracy is in some countries. we, in india, are far away from it. for us democracy means voting . joining politics means becoming mla or mp. witness "priyanka reluctant to join politics". she was election agent of her mother in the last election. she addresses election meetings. even her children do it but still 'she is reluctant' because she does not want to contest elections.

it is why the going ons in the bjp are welcome. it is democracy at work. people vying with each other for honours. i wish other parties also followed. let there be discussions on who is going to be the candidate. hillary clinton and obama vied with each other for candidacy but she accepted to be his foreign secretary. losing the contest for candidacy did not mean break with the party. let us also have such traditions. let the winner lead. let the loser join in the doing of good to the public.

good to see infighting in bjp. let it continue.


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