If there was an iota of sincerity to the many laudatory observations in the addresses welcoming the new Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, both the NDA and the Opposition have combined to cast an ugly shadow over journalist-turned-politician Harivansh (we respect his desire not to use a caste-identifying surname) by converting his election into a mini-precursor to 2019.
Not only does that undermine the qualities of a generally non-controversial individual, it confirms that the best interests of the House had received lesser priority than the political one-upmanship threatening to wreck the institutions of democracy.
There was a hollow ring to speeches that took a lofty position that once-elected, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman were elevated above party affiliation and became “the property of the House”.
A ground reality was provided by reports that Congress members were likely to boycott a welcome breakfast the Chairman was hosting for Mr Harivansh and others ~ the rift between Mr M Venkaiah Naidu and sections of the Opposition is palpable, and exacerbated by the frustration-laced sermons from Mr Naidu.
Sad proof that the Chair, and elections to it, have now been sickeningly politicised, Parliament reduced to a punching bag for those unable to discern a difference between party interests and the well-being of the people at large.
It is not easy to point accusing fingers in any one direction for that could cloud the initial phase of the tenure of the Deputy Chairman. Sure the NDA has been clever and brought to bear its acknowledged art at winning elections ~ selecting a JD(U) nominee negated any anti-BJP animosity that has crept into the alliance over the Big Brother attitude of the dominant party.
And, perhaps, for the first time they reached out to Naveen Patnaik for assistance ~ will that tone down Amit Shah’s tirade in Odisha? What then prevented a sincere bid for a consensus nominee?
Simultaneously exposed was the inept manner in which is being conducted the exercise to forge an anti-BJP front: no credible leadership is evident, no game-plan is formulated, and some smaller parties feel left out.
Clearly, local differences among non-BJP parties prevent them from uniting to battle a commona dversary. Rahul Gandhi had opportunity to act as a cementing agent, he failed ominously.
Again. And when the numbers stacked up unfavourably, the Congress could have withdrawn its candidate. The 125-105 defeat in the Rajya Sabha echoed the verdict in the futile no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha a few weeks earlier.
The recent show of unity on the steps of Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha has proved little more than a soap opera. Ultimately there was no real winner in the Rajya Sabha, and Harivansh will find it difficult to establish and sustain non-partisan credentials. The needless needle to his election has served to only prick the majesty of the forum.