Special to Times of Oman
Everybody detests hypocrisy and mendacity. In reality, however, we tend to tolerate these two 'cousins' not least because there seems no alternative out there. Indians will go to polls in a few weeks to pick a party or group of parties knowing full well that they are no lilywhites. In fact, both the Congress and the BJP, the two main national parties, are the quintessential havens for hypocrisy.
This being election time, both the national parties are in overdrive trying to influence the voters. No problems there. It's only when they start indulging in veritable slugfests blaming each other for anything undesirable in society that we are forced to look at them for what they really are.
Let's begin with corruption. This is something both the UPA and the NDA were notorious for. It's hypocritical for the BJP to accuse the UPA government of corruption as its predecessor, the NDA led by the BJP, was not far behind on this score. In fact, corruption seeped into the edifice of the saffron party during the reign of the NDA dispensation. A former BJP president was convicted for taking bribery. The sting operation sequences splashed through TV channels can never be erased from the minds of the people.
Likewise, the Congress should think twice before pointing its fingers at corrupt ministers in the BJP-ruled states, including Gujarat, a role model in the saffron view. The stench of scams wafts across the Congress-ruled states too.
Coming to the 2014 general elections, we find that the picture remains pretty much the same. The BJP has re-inducted scandal-ridden Yeddyurappa and his party into the saffron fold in Karnataka. Ditto the tainted Sriramulu and his tiny outfit. Dissenting voices from some quarters of the party were set aside because of a general saffron feeling that even a teeny-weeny party, corruption-ridden or crime-ridden, may come in handy, post-poll. The party knows full well that 'Mission 272-plus' is no easy task.
The Congress, on its part, has allied with the RJD of Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is a convict in the Bihar fodder scam. It is illustrative of the sorry plight the Grand Old Party is in now. Almost all parties have fielded candidates with criminal background. One wonders if the people consider corruption and crime election issues at all. Perhaps this is the reason the BJP flags up development as its core agenda.
We have often heard BJP leaders taunting the Congress for the supremacy of the "family", meaning the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has lorded it over the party for many years. It's hypocrisy on the part of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to talk about the importance of democracy in the party. Who doesn't know that it is the dynastic grip that keeps the party afloat?
Coming to the BJP, it is common knowledge that it is part of a much bigger family or the 'Sangh Parivar' and is remote-controlled by its parent organisation, the RSS, at every step of the way. During election time it fans out its 'pracharaks' to pretty much all the BJP constituents for door-to-door campaigning. According to reports, RSS is now more active than ever before in helping the BJP win at the hustings, its cultural organisation tag notwithstanding.
We could discern a firm RSS hand right from the selection of Narendra Modi as the election campaign chief. Without the parent organisation's intervention Modi would not have become the prime ministerial candidate. It is clear that Hindutva is the RSS agenda and the BJP has no alternative but to keep it under wraps at least for sometime.
The BJP, therefore, is part of a gargantuan family with scores of affiliates in tow.
The Congress meanwhile makes it a point to remind the voters of the 2002 massacre in Gujarat under the watch of Narendra Modi. Certainly, it was a collective crime that left a deep scar on the psyche of the nation. Modi is still held under suspicion by a vast number of people irrespective of the court verdict.
The saffron answer is a counter accusation that puts the Congress on the defensive. The latter is constrained to explain the 1984 Sikh riots following Indira Gandhi's assassination. In this case, at least top leaders such as the Congress president and the prime minister have apologised to the Sikh community.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.