Analysts talk of the “knife” in contemporary politics, they are not incorrect. For what have been excised from the public discourse are all traces of grace: the casualty of excessive competitiveness. It was in a visibly cold ambiance that homage was paid to the memory of the security personnel who sacrificed their lives to protect the temple of democracy when it came under terrorist attack ~ the emotions triggered by the results of Assembly elections determined the mood at Parliament House. Even worse was the lowly politicking over the silver jubilee celebrations of the Delhi Assembly ~ boycotts are a self-demeaning expression of a commitment to the democratic process.

More so when the recent “contest” did not involve the Aam Aadmi Party which holds sway at the history-rich Old Secretariat in Delhi. While indeed it does take two hands to clap, on this particular occasion Arvind Kejriwal & Co. were the least culpable of an unelevating bunch.

If an accusing finger can be pointed at any single individual, it must be directed at the first presiding officer of the Metropolitan Council, the forerunner of the Delhi Assembly. Mr LK Advani is truly an Elder Statesman of the present political troupe, but he surrendered his dignity when he first accepted, and then declined, an invitation to participate in the anniversary festivity. The veteran cited “personal reasons” for opting out, but it would be only someone terribly naïve who would accept that, and would note this was precisely what the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India said when he quit office ~ there has to be end to the cowardly practice of making “personal” alibis. It would have been more in keeping with BJP muscle had Advani declared he would have no truck with the AAP.

Similar has been the way Ajay Maken wriggled the Congress out of the festivity. His excuse that the AAP leadership did not display due reverence to his party’s stalwarts was as flimsy as the BJP saying it apprehended that Advani’s presence would be exploited by Kejriwal and his mates. While Rahul Gandhi has been using his latest electoral success to work towards a common front against Narendra Modi and his allies, the unimportant Maken has played spoiler.

Have our politicians so quickly forgotten the dignified courage ex-President Pranab Mukherjee exhibited when he “rose above” and visited the RSS Headquarters in Nagpur? Or prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s insisting that the Government of India would pay for Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s medical treatment in the United States? Or how Indira Gandhi personally carried Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s small bundle of clothes when he arrived at Delhi Airport? Those were not empty gestures: their recall emphasises how today’s so-called leaders have now discarded the graces that had made Indian culture universally appreciated.