Those who resist the idea of the BJP returning to its ideological moorings argue that:
. Ideology is irrelevant in the 21st century;
. Ideology restricts 'flexibility';
. Ideology and mass politics are incompatible;
. Ideology ties the BJP to its core Hindu ethos; and, hence,
. Ideology causes an allergic rash among the BJP's allies.
(The allies are now reduced to the Shiv Sena, which has shifted from aggressive Hindu majoritarianism to opportunistic Marathi Manoos identity politics; Akali Dal, which remains committed to Khalsa identity politics; and the JD-U, whose politics is shaped by caste and communal identities, namely those of the EBCs, OBCs [Kurmis] and Muslims.)
The purpose of this blog post is not to elaborate on these points, but to underscore the real relevance of ideology: It acts as a restraining force, it serves as a moral compass, it binds you to probity and rectitude, it tempers a politician's penchant for pomp and splendour, it discourages abuse of power, it makes a party shame and shun the morally and physically corrupt.
And what happens when a party begins to dilute its commitment to ideology, distances itself from its core values and abandons morals and ethics to embrace that which is politically expedient, as the BJP has been doing since 1998?
. The party president is caught on camera accepting wads of notes.
. MPs, MLAs, Ministers are accused of having their snouts in the trough.
. Nepotism takes precedence over loyalty to the organisation and ability.
. MPs get caught in cash-for-question and MPLAD scams.
. An MP misuses his diplomatic passport for human trafficking.
[This is by no means a comprehensive list.]
And then when the moral slide gathers speed, stories like this appear in media:
The Times of India
Karnataka mantri spends Rs 20cr on son's shaadi
30 May 2009, TNN
BELLARY: This could easily be included in the list of the fattest weddings ever. Karnataka health minister B Sriramulu pulled out all the stops for the marriage of his 27-year-old MLA son (PTI says nephew), T H Suresh Babu, and is believed to have spent a whopping Rs 20 crore on the event.
Suresh, an MLA from Kampli reserved constituency, tied the knot with N Deepa, a middle class girl, with an extraordinary 40,000 people attending the mammoth ceremony at Bellary Cantonment on Thursday.
Four choppers to ferry VIPs from Bangalore to Bellary kept whirring in the sky all day. The wedding hall hummed with 500 air-conditioners and more than 200 chefs dished out a culinary extravaganza. Bangalore's political power shifted to this dusty sleepy district — including CM B S Yeddyurappa and his cabinet members. Also in attendance were top politicians from Andhra Pradesh.
Spanning 8 acres, the wedding arena had a huge palace-like shamiana and a dining hall to accommodate 5,000 people. There were also VIP and 'VVIP' halls.
Karnataka health minister B Sriramulu is learnt to have spent Rs 20 crore on the marriage of his MLA son, T H Suresh Babu.
All available lodges were booked for guests. Organizers made sure there was ample parking space even as 20 generator vehicles were used for back up. There was a choice of continental and Indian food and even though the reception area was jampacked, everything went smoothly.
VIPs were ushered in through a single door connecting two different halls while others were allowed to enter through the other side. Also, more than 100 ACs were fitted around the reception hall.
There were 130 responses to this news story posted on the Times of India's Website. Here's an unedited sample of what readers, who are also voters, had to say:
Sri,Bengaluru,says:Minister Sriramulu is a mining company owner who has earned crores in the last 5 years. To one estimate he earned crores a day when iron export to China was in peak. Need less to say the politicians should be model for others.
cpkaruppan,chennai,says:Advaniji, pl practice what you have preached. pl first find out how this minister got so much money-whether he paid incomtax! The Indian public did not take your word of bringing back the money from Swiss (banks) etc and that is why you have lost election. now is a chance to show you will practice what you preach!!!!!
Basavalingappa,Bellary,says:Loot the natural resources, exploit the situation & take shelter in god & wasteful rituals, parade ego... The message is who cares? Show must go on. The end result is poverty, conflict, violence & blame game for nothing. Who needs such gods & rituals?
thomas,bangalore,says:oh my god! shameless people.. wasting crores of rupees on nothing! instead he could have made the world a better (if not, at least a littttttle better) place with those 20 crores.
deeno,mumbai,says:Hahaha....Well PM Mr. Manmohan Singh now should ask a CBI to investigate and find out the source of income of the Minister. Normal people who pay tax are used in other's wedding. Black money for sure... 20 Cr. spend.. on Marriage..So many poor could have been fed..
Indian,Mumbai,says:Hahahaha, u think IT people will raid this minister. Forget the IT heads were also present there enjoying lavish wedding thrown by this corrupt minister.
bipin,uae,says:This shows how serious is his conviction towards serving the country and its people by blowing away such a huge amount of money in celebrations when millions are living in poverty. He should be brought to books by verifying the source of income by IT dept and penalised !
Setty,Bangalore,says:It is shame on the part of a clean party leader who is supposed to be model to others and going in a wrong way. It should have been condemned and discouraged by the party high command if they are really interested in giving good governance and maintain transparency. One should learn lesson from Late shri. Byre Gowda (ex. Minister) who performed his sons marriage in a very simple manner limiting the event only to his family members and said that it is a family function and not a public one. The rules and regulations and free advises in this country are only applicable for weak & hapless people and not for mighty persons. The Lokayukta's Net is not strong enough even to go near such mighty persons and only catching small fishes and make media publicity just to show their existence and of no use for the common man. God only has to take one more incarnation to clean this society for which let us all pray in the interest of coming generations. This 20 crores could have been spent for poor boys education especially in rural areas which could have been covered for thousands of people to make their fortunes bright.
narayana,muscat,says:since minsiters like musicians, sportsmen, cricketers, cinema people and other parasites do not produce one grain of rice / salt / a furniture , a home, a cloth or even 1 line of software code, they have got the money by virtual money creation techniques as opposed to creating money by positive value addition. So, why any one who survives on virtual money bother. It is only the hard working and earning tax payers who know the worth of even 1 rupee.
I do not know B Sriramulu and hence I would not question the source of his wealth. But we do know how people perceive such ostentatious display of wealth. And what they expect from the 'party high command'.
Unfortunately, the 'party high command' is not known to have taken a dim view of the event. With ideology at a discount, it couldn't have been any other way.
[My article in The Pioneer, June 4, 2009.]