Voices Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 05:30
  The Sushma Swaraj/ Vasundhara Raje affair refuses to die down. Almost every day, fierce debates take place on the television news channels. If anything, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s position seems to have hardened further. They are unwilling to envisage resignation of their leaders on moral grounds even as the evidence against them keeps multiplying. While the Congress certainly has not set a record worth emulation, the BJP had always claimed that it was a political formation which was fundamentally different from its predecessor in terms to adhering to the doctrine of zero tolerance for corruption.  That of course does not in any way detract Sushma Swaraj's culpability, no matter how trivial the consequences of her actions.  I am aghast that she has not realized that letting loose individuals like Sambit Patra ,Sudhanshu Trivedi and G.V.L.Narasimha Rao is not doing her any good. Foul mouthing others for their misdeeds as a defence has never worked in politics, and it should not. The Congress has an unenviable track record of misuse of power. Even as long ago as in the early 1960's when the party was headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, it was known to have adopted a soft stance towards Jayanti Dharam Tej,a a proven swindler, because of his proximity to Nehru. Teja was a regular at the prime-ministerial residence and after Nehru's death, Teja continued his friendship with Indira when he is reported to have presented her with a mink coat despite being a fugitive from justice in India. If the freedom fighter and  author Gopal Krishna's revelations is his book Despondent Freedoms are accurate, it was Teja who funded Rajiv and Sanjay's education in the United Kingdom.   Jayanti Dharam Teja and Lalit Modi It is up to the BJP to demonstrate that it is better than its predecessor. What could have been dismissed as a very bad judgement call on part of the Foreign Minister which merited nothing more than an acknowledgement and expression of regret has escalated into a full blown scandal thanks to the mishandling by her own party. Swaraj and Vasundhararaje now seem to be headed for the club of discredited and arrogant politicians, which I must admit would be a real pity. Another facet of this affair that is worrying me is what emerged in a conversation that I had yesterday with a medical colleague of mine. He is a quintessentially affable man and certainly would have no truck with the likes of the foul mouthed and abusive trolls who use pseudonyms and use unacceptably profane language for anyone who deigns to question their messiah, Narendra Modi. Yet he maintained that he would not countenance any move that would weaken Modi as 'there is no alternative’. In other words, he was reiterating the doctrine of 'learned helplessness' described by the renowned psychologist Seligman which enunciates a psychological mindset where one, although convinced of the unrighteousness of an action, refuses to take a stand as he/she is engulfed by a belief that he/she cannot effect a change. The state of 'learned helplessness' has brought the country to grief on several occasions. I am old enough to recall how people used to vote for Nehru despite being critical of his actions because of learned helplessness - and this doctrine was promoted by Indira's unworthy sycophants ranging from Khushwant Singh to Devkant Borooah and Vasant Sathe. If the country has to progress, we have to shake off this state of helplessness and act. I for one comprehensively reject the contention that criticising Modi and his government on specific issues is 'anti-national' and that in a country of over a billion, there is no real alternative available.  And the time has come when we have to debate whether we should hold politicians accountable for the company they keep. I should like to cite the case of a politician that would seem unfamiliar to the present generation but exceedingly familiar to those of my vintage who followed British politics in the 60's and early 70's, Reginald Maudling. A Hegelian scholar, he was regarded the best brain in the Conservative Party who held perhaps all important governmental and party positions, and more importantly steered the party in new economic and social directions. For those like me who have had dealings with Zambia, Trinidad and Jamaica, it was Maudling who paved the way for their independence. He was widely tipped to be the leader of the Tories but was narrowly pipped to the post by Ted Heath. He may have become the British Prime Minister had the notorious racist Enoch Powell not played the spoiler.   Reginald Maulding He was found to have accepted the directorship of a company owned by Paulson, his close friend. Paulson was found to have bribed several officials, although it was not proven that Maudling himself had made any financial gains. The House of Commons and his own Tory Party came down on him like a ton of bricks. Harold MacMillan, the former Prime Minister and one of his main admirers was at the forefront of those who criticized him for not being 'careful with his choice of friends.' Maudling retired from politics, became an alcoholic and died of cirrhosis of liver in 1979. Is there a lesson here for Indian politicians now that we claim to be a mature democracy?   Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. 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