ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Joke Repeated

Joke Repeated THE instinct for survival is extraordinarily well developed in a party which subsists on the spoils system. It will therefore cash in on all opportunities that suddenly, either by accident or by happenstance, come its way. The Congress(I) had all the months since last December to pass legislation separating religion from electoral politics. But there was reluctance on its part to close the options. The reasons are obvious; it has played the religious card over the years in the electoral season at considerable gains for itself. That the party is being constrained to reverse gears is because the Bharatiya Janata Party has learnt to play that particular card with greater finesse. Unless the judiciary bails it out at the last moment, the Congress(l) will have to lock horns with the BJP in fresh elections in the four Aryavarta states. A legislation, howsoever perfunctorily drafted, separating religion from politics could prove to be of help in the forthcoming electoral battles, more so if the incumbent chief election commissioner continues to be around to interpret the content of the legislation for the benefit of the ruling party at the centre. But the party is both smart and a non-believer in one- dimensional pursuits. It wants to kill several birds with one stone. Why the mandir alone, the Congress(I) managers are anxious to tackle mandal too through the modality of the proposed legislation. Any organisation which purportedly uses political campaigns to divide the citizenry in terms of religion, caste, language, etc, ought, in their view, to be interdicted from participation in elections. This would fake care of not just the BJP and the V P Singhs and the Ram Bilas Paswans; rightly applied, the legislation could also have the capability to cramp the style of leftists who are usually great ones for linguistic self-determination. Perhaps the select committee of parliament, in case it is sufficiently vigilant, would shoot down some of the more outrageous proposals mooted by the Congress(I). But since a legislative exercise generally involves some compromise, the bill in its final form might still retain the potential to dispense pin-pricks fairly even-handedly. For example, the Narmada Bachao Andolan might be claimed to come within its orbit since this movement allegedly incites some sections of the community, namely, the hundreds of thousands of adivasis displaced by the dams, against the landlords and rich peasants who are to be the major beneficiaries once the Sardar Sarovar project is completed.

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