"Elections 2019": No more time should be wasted in mud-slinging

By Brij Bhardwaj. Dated: 5/14/2019 12:06:41 PM

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For a nation, which was taught by the father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi, that the means are as important as ends to be achieved during the freedom struggle, we have reached a sorry state when ends take priority and any means can be adopted to achieve them. More so, it also means giving up values cherished by all religions -- that is respect for the dead and elderly.
During the last five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not missed any opportunity to blame previous regimes for failures of his Government. It started with ten years of UPA rule, when Dr Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister. It subsequently got extended to members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. For instance, Jawahar Lal Nehru was held responsible for Kashmir problem, institutions faced danger because Mrs. Indira Gandhi imposed emergency.
This process crossed all limits during the ongoing General Election for Lok Sabha in 2019. As the pressure mounted and demands were made to explain the reasons for favouring the Anil Ambani group in the off-set deal for Rafale fighter planes, Mr Modi decided to attack Rajiv Gandhi, former prime Minister, and father of Mr Rahul Gandhi for his alleged involvement in the Bofors deal. It is forgotten that Mr Gandhi, who faced media trial in connection with Bofors, has been cleared by the courts as no evidence was found about his alleged involvement in the deal.
Questions being asked are that the present Government, which has been in power for five years, was free to inquire into any deals or shortcomings of policy during this period. Why is it suddenly discovering all these cases during the time of elections only? But things have not stopped with the older members of the Gandhi family. Now it is the turn of Rahul Gandhi. He has been in politics for over a decade and also a member of the Lok Sabha, but this did not prevent BJP from questioning his nationality. They took the matter to the Supreme Court. One hopes after the court verdict, they would keep quiet.
The latest salvo to be fired is over the alleged misuse of an Indian Navy ship for entertaining the friends of Rajiv Gandhi. A Naval ship meant for fighting is hardly the place for merry-making as it is not a cruise ship. The Modi Government is free to inquire into all cases raised by them regarding Gandhi family and punish the guilty. The statement by a former Naval Chief and Captain of the ship that Mr Rajiv Gandhi did nothing more than visit the ship in his official capacity should close this controversy. I hope no more such frivolous issues will be raised in the next few days before the votes are counted.
The question that arises is that no one could hold it against BJP if it continues to raise issues of alleged misconduct by previous regimes, but at the same time it should not feel shy of at least having an inquiry into the Rafale deal. After all the issue was raised by a former French President who was party to the negotiations. Serious irregularities in the deal like easing out HAL, a public sector undertaking with long experience, and Anil Ambani's firm being brought up as he has had no experience.
Elections will come and go but the damage done by making below the belt attacks will be damaging as it will be difficult to repair. Congress and BJP have fought elections in the past, but the fight has never become so bitter and so vicious. We had leaders like Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They respected each other and maintained restraint so that national interest could be preserved by a proper approach to issues at stake.
Mr Vajpayee could present India's case on Kashmir in the United Nations when the Congress was in power. The BJP leader in the Opposition praised Indira Gandhi for her role in the 1971 war which led to the creation of Bangladesh. There is urgent need for senior leaderss in the BJP like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to guide Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief, Amit Shah, in such matters as both have little experience at the national level. After all both have been given the role of "Marg Darshaks" in the party.
Time has come to shift the debate to current problems of unemployment, farmers' distress and economic slowdown facing the country instead of wasting time in digging up the past or reopening old controversies.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)



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