THE GREAT INDIAN CIRCUS
What a relief!
It is not that the re-installation of Kalyan Singh as Chief Minister of UP comes as a deliverance from all woes and makes us heave a sigh of relief. Rather, the fact that the UP legislators who are known for their violent disposition especially when within the safe precincts of the legislature, have spared the nation and democracy from their known proclivities, has come as a crumb of comfort.
The much-expected fireworks failed to materialise and the two-way traffic of defections came to a temporary halt, perhaps due to the Supreme Court monitoring or owing to the overwhelming presence of cameras as the much-awaited swayamvara went on peacefully. The little known one-day-wonder J. Pal, a product of Bhandari’s blunder, lost out to the better known Kalyan, who now finds himself richer by a few more MLAs. And poorer by a few suitcases, the opposition may like to add. Yet, the fact that much of the properties of the Assembly remain intact even after visits from the MLAs stand testimony to the latter’s sense of restraint and responsibility. Kudos, therefore, to the UP team for bringing repute to the nation by not bringing disrepute to it!
Although yesterday’s session might have disappointed those who had tuned their TV sets to the news channels from the ones featuring Bond blockblusters, obviously itching for more action, there was however no dearth for fun and some funny suspense. The voting was delayed owing to a thorough security check prompted by ‘experience’ that included removal of some dangerous objects like mikes and paper weights. The legislators were able to occupy their seats only after the sniffer dogs had warmed them. This had probably unsettled the MLAs and killed their fighting spirits. Moral of the story: Violence delayed is violence denied. And the session turned out to be a tame affair in the absence of both the mood and missiles.
There was also another minor episode that caused a flutter. Our friend, J…Pal insisted that he be treated on par with Kalyan Singh as he was also as much a contender for the CM’s seat as the BJP leader. The Speaker after some initial hesitation, relented and both the suitors were seated on either side of him. But that man’s love for the Chair is quite striking. It was just the other day that he refused to alight from that position and had to be literally wrenched out.
There was also some furore when four members walked in amidst tight security. It was later revealed that they were also members of the prisoners’ list in Lucknow jail, having been booked under some section or the other under the National Security Act. They had taken the jailer’s permission to answer the Speaker’s roll-call. We never knew it was just a walking distance between crime and politics.
A word about the Speaker. Though Kalyan won by an unexpectedly handsome margin, he does owe much of the victory to this umpire of the Assembly. We are not sure if we might invite a privilege case for commenting on the Speaker, but still, we deem it a privilege to congratulate him for strategically delaying the decision on the BSP members – whose ranks have since swelled – who defected in support of the BJP. The opposition shouted themselves hoarse on this issue but had to stop after running out of steam. The Speaker however remained unmoved. We all know that a staunch believer in democracy will not waver, whatever be the provocations. It is the opposition’s fault if they mistake his ‘unshakable’ faith in democracy for partiality.
The focus is now back on the very excellent Excellency who occupies the Raj Bhavan. He still sees no reason to vacate the premises and behaves as if nothing has happened. For such political adventurists who think that trial costs nothing, the setbacks to personal credibility and the beating taken by their constitutional position really do not mean anything. It would be presumptuous on our part to expect a resignation from him. In fact we would be lucky to even extract one from him and that can happen only if the President uses all his good offices to prevail upon the reluctant Prime Minister and his colleagues to see sense and dispense with the nuisance.
We are no constitutional experts, but we vaguely remember reading somewhere that the Governor holds office at the pleasure of the President. Well, the President has expressed his displeasure, not once but several times and even a lay interpretation of the fine print or the President’s intentions would deem that Bhandari be shown the door. No doubt we have to be careful that another door does not open, not certainly in any other Raj Bhavan anywhere in the country. And it is high time we ensured that persons in public life who have a past, do not have a future!
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