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Farcical fasts

Editorial |

There has ever-been a spiritual dimension to undertaking a public fast. It encompasses repentance, renunciation, cleansing of body and mind. Gandhiji added a unique dimension: elevating the practice to a powerful, though peaceful, means of shaming into submission the oppressive, violent and sectarian forces that tattered the social fabric ~ his fasts added an edge to his non-violent essays in redemption, even if his ultimate aim was political. Alas, some well-meaning but uni-focused activists like Anna Hazare and Medha Patkar devalued the practice through overuse.

Now it has been thoroughly degraded by its conversion into a political weapon in the overly competitive, divisive, dirty games to which party leaders have stooped. The Capital has just witnessed an unfocused Rahul Gandhi-led tamasha that actually began with a feast, and was most noticed because two infamous characters were exiled from the stage.

Even though both had, unfortunately successfully, won elections to the Lok Sabha on Congress tickets well after the “crime” that just saw them banished from the Rahul-rostrum. Mani Shankar Aiyar would have reason to lament he was a victim of excessive force ~ unless there were hidden reasons why he, as well as Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were targeted. Loyalty’s backlash?

Another chapter in the farce is slated to be enacted today. Parliamentarians of the BJP, with the Prime Minister Modi as their spearhead, are to undertake a day-long fast to highlight the “assault” on the apex legislature that obliterated so much of the Budget Session.

It would be pertinent to query if a single day without food and drink suffices to atone for the several days both Houses remained non-functional, wasted taxpayers’ money.

Equally pertinent would be a query if the Congress party alone brought the institution to a standstill, and to assess the degree to which the disruption was engineered by the NDA’s friends playing footsie to scuttle no-confidence motions which could hardly succeed, but would puncture the pique of the ruling entity.

No less worthy of impartial evaluation would be the role of the parliamentary affairs minister and the Presiding Officers. As well as an assessment of how cooperative the NDA had been during UPA-II.

The disgust often displayed by seasoned parliamentarian LK Advani tells many a story, including why he has been unceremoniously sidelined. Mr Modi is not a creature of Parliament ~ and that shows.

The shame, however, is collective and articulates how the cherished norms and traditions established by the long-forgotten Founding Fathers have been gutted.

Desecrating the concept of purification though fasts is part of the sick story that equates electoral success with the attainment of nirvana, majority-rule as justifying the emasculation of the minority, legitimises the demolition of statues, and a re-naming re-dedication spree that threatens to impact even Children’s Day. Politicians are pulling a “fast one” on the people.