In Indian politics, irresponsible utterances are commonplace, especially by leaders who put their party’s ideology supreme in the public view if only to trash their rivals. And so, on the day that Shiv Sena announced its support to Pranab Mukherjee of the Congress for the post of President, we are reminded of one such casual statement by Sena founder Bal Thackeray. “Congress is a party of eunuchs,” he had told his listeners once. The Congress party, on its part, had paid no heed to it saying, it is Mr Thackeray’s wont to speak like that.
That statement was conveniently forgotten on Tuesday, when Thackeray wrote a front page editorial in his party mouthpiece Saamna that the Shiv Sena would support Mukherjee’s candidature for President. For good measure, he described Mukherjee as “the right candidate”, and sought unanimous support for him.
It is significant that Thackeray did not wait for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (of which the Sena is a part) to announce its candidate, especially after former President APJ Abdul Kalam stepped away from the race. The reason for doing so is obvious: Sena wants to keep the Congress happy so that it does not anoint Narayan Rane, a breakaway Sena leader who joined the Congress, as state chief minister. Besides, the BJP’s not-so-covert overtures to Raj Thackeray’s MNS, had already irked the Sena. Now, the BJP has no choice but to swallow the Sena’s repeated jibes without any retaliation whatsoever.
But look at the bigger picture, too. The ruling coalition at the Centre, the UPA, faces several scams running into hundreds of thousands of crores, and the principal opposition coalition, the NDA, has no clear vision for the future. In a scenario such as this, who is the voter to vote for? Indeed, does the citizen of this country have any choice in the matter at all? It is a question that should scare us all.