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Bad Decision

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Has India’s opposition sworn to hand over electoral victory to the BJP by vacating space on its own? The decision to boycott the Constitution Day celebrations in Parliament seems to indicate that this is the case. How can they complain endlessly about loss of democratic values and constitutional rights when they deliberately choose to step away from occasions that reinforce the higher principles by which the country is run? Such mean-mindedness can only force the general public to believe that all the tall talk about democratic values is just hypocrisy. Knowing the BJP’s ability to spin such incidents into electoral profit, it is also very bad politics.

Was the boycott a symbolic act targeted at the BJP’s disregard for constitutional values? How does doing that make any kind of a point? In fact, it only leads to the suspicion that it is just a tit-for-tat response for the absence of high functionaries at a meeting held to commemorate Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary on 19 November. Equating the two events would only reinforce the BJP’s allegation that the Congress cannot distinguish between national and partisan interests.

India can do without such polarisation. It certainly won’t benefit the opposition as motley aggregation of interests cannot compete with the single-minded pursuit of its goals by the BJP. The way to go is to rise above the pettiness and project more noble-minded behaviour that would shame the adversary. And mere pretence will not do, it requires substance in the form of past record, attitude and intellectual ability. A couple of resounding speeches touching the people’s hearts would have been far more effective, particularly if the deeds and words of the Constitution’s founders were recalled. Unfortunately, yet another opportunity has been lost. This has become a habit as seen in parliamentary debates. Walkouts and disturbances have become the staple, instead of hard-hitting and well-informed speeches.

In the absence of all this, the people will only be inclined to think that the Constitution was disrespected and that the egoistic opposition is not worthy of their support. If such tactics are current now, might as well send the likes of Rakesh Tikait to parliament because abrasive behaviour comes naturally to them!