In perhaps the darkest day in Indian parliamentary “democracy”, the UPA government used the maxim, “if not by hook, we will win by crook” to win a trust vote that was necessitated owing to the withdrawal of left support to the government. Allegations were already flowing thick and fast about how the support was won off certain legislators in the opposition through the means of graft and bribery, even as crony capitalist manoeuvring and naked dispersal of pelf and patronage in the form of ministries was indulged in, in the open by the government, just to get a dubious nuclear deal with the United States passed through. In the end of it all, the “technocrat prime minister” Dr. Manmohan Singh was beaming unabashedly, shedding no sense of remorse over the sheer duplicity of the Pyrrhic victory won by his ruling party and its coalition allies, even as the bourgeois press went gaga over the Machiavellian triumph.
The image of the day from the Lok Sabha was that of three BJP legislators pouring out wads of thousand rupee notes and alleging that they had been paid to vote against the government by representatives of the Samajwadi Party, whose sudden volte-face in supporting the nuclear deal was itself dubious. The BJP legislators had named Amar Singh, the voluble general secretary of the Samajwadi Party and Ahmed Patel, the behind-the-scenes political secretary of the Congress party as the lynchpins in the entire bribery scandal.
Even more damning was the fact that there existed video footage (a sting operation done by the private channel CNN-IBN) which insinuated in clear as to what was transpiring beyond the public eye in the way legislators were being bought for their votes. But the channel, perhaps wishing not to embarrass the government and thereby jeopardise the nuclear deal, thought it wise not to air the contents to the public.
In essence, everything about the manner the Manmohan Singh government went ahead with getting legislative approval for the deal, was dubious. An opera that begin with a slew of lies made by the representatives of the government to its erstwhile left allies, continued with the addition of new partners (Amar Singh, Mulayam Yadav and his cohorts) who had their own shady self serving agenda. It has now culminated with a dark flourish as nearly 11 members of parliament went “Aya Ram, Gaya Ram” and endorsed the government, while at the same time, ensuring that their wallets were sure to be bursting out of the seams with hard money. Others took the “higher road” to patronage by negotiating ministries (the JMM for example).
In the midst of it all, the sutradar and the opera conductor, the United States administration was laughing all the way to the bank. Here was the Indian government, which had now forsworn its commitment to a better, progressive and a multipolar world, to embark upon a notorious nuclear deal with the unilaterist Americans and heck, they had even gone one step ahead of the guru of graft and chicanery, George Bush, in getting the all powerful legislative approval for the deal.
The nuclear deal has still some steps to be negotiated. The IAEA board of governors meets in a while to signal its decision on the initialled safeguards agreement negotiated by the Indians. What follows is then the deliberations by the representatives of the Nuclear Suppliers Group cartel to give a clean chit to the Indian government, which will then in turn take up the deal to be endorsed in the American legislature through an up-down vote.
Thus the genie is now out of the India's legislature's bottle. The deal is on autopilot. The dealers however, will not be spared. They have shamelessly justified their means by pointing out to their utilitarian understanding of the benefits of the ends met by the deal. The public will not be convinced. As the shameful image of legislators pouring out 1000 Rs notes with Mahatma Gandhi's face etched on it, onto the well of the parliament, is painted on the television day in and day out, so much will the anger with the charade, followed by the Manmohan Singh government in getting a dubious deal passed, pour out eventually into the ballot boxes. The Congress(I) and the Samajwadi Party are thereby served notice. The people might have forgotten the earlier pathetic episode of graft in the JMM parliamentarians' bribery scandal involving the Narasimha Rao led Congress government (of which Manmohan Singh was the finance minister). But this memory would last till at least March 2009. The dealers will be dealt appropriately.