If there was a law against sycophants, by now Congress leaders high and low would be behind bars. That’s no exaggeration. To confirm this, simply recall Rahul Gandhi’s melodramatic appearance at Delhi’s press club; his words mercilessly punching his own government and Prime Minister.
In any self-respecting party with a spine such a show of sudden outrage by their leader, supreme and unassailable only in his lineage, would have nudged some kind of muted protest. If that’s too much to expect, at least a sulk or a telling silence would have been in order. But lo and behold Congress leaders did a complete 180 degrees turnabout.
‘We follow our leader’ the chorus went. From Ajay Maken, who sat stupefied next to Gandhi as the Congress vice president launched into a stinging assault on his government, which he said was his ‘personal opinion,’ to the Prime Minister himself.
Caught unawares, a red-faced Manmohan Singh from the distant shores of the United States of America, said he will look into the points raised by Gandhi. Just a couple of weeks earlier, the Prime Minister had said he was perfectly willing to work for the Congress under Gandhi’s leadership.
Sycophancy is not a virtue, particularly when such unabashed flattery stems from deference to one’s lineage.
Ruled by the Gandhis, the Congress today flaunts a culture of sycophantic adulation a blot on our professed democracy.
The same Gandhi crying foul over the ordinance kept mum during the raging controversy around his brother-in-law Robert Vadra and his questionable land dealings in Haryana.
Even when the Haryana government gunned for the IAS officer Ashok Khemka nailing Vadra for corruption, the Gandhis kept quiet. But they sent out their trusted lieutenants to do the demeaning job of defending the indefensible.
That’s not how principled leaders behave. If the ordinance shielding corrupt legislators is reprehensible, no less reprehensible are the attempts to prevent the law from taking its course against the son-in-law of the first family. Or to use the administration to punish honest officers who are following the law.
Robert Vadra is just one in a long list of such controversial cases where the Congress high command has remained wrapped in his habitual silence. It can be argued that the Indian political class, in general, lacks inner-party democracy. Look at Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, who in equal measure inspires terror and awe, among her party colleagues. In contrast, we recently saw some ‘healthy’ sparring within the BJP.
Factionalism often is a signifier of inner-party democracy, especially when the war is out in the open, whether for personal ambition, or ideological motive.
But even by the markers of a sycophantic political culture, the Congress is leading the chart of ignominy. Trampling party discipline and taking Manmohan Singh on is easy for Gandhi. Not because of his unwavering ethical convictions.
But simply because he is a blue-blooded Gandhi. And that’s the rub. Former Congress stalwart Sharad Pawar was shown the door when he, and former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, questioned Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin.
The recent events around Gandhi bring to mind the famous children’s classic: Emperor’s New Clothes. Here’s an excerpt from a translation by Jean Hersholt. “Off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy.
Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.
“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.
The writer is Editor, dna of thought