Strange is the manner of politics. One cannot know when a friend can become an enemy, and it is this difference which is seen in the form of a picture of enmity changing to friendship in politics. Politicians/statesmen were there earlier and politicians/statesmen are there today as well. Let us relate to you some incidents connected with politicians/statesmen who were there earlier.
Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant did not get along too well. Nehruji was aware of this, but when sometimes Rafi Ahmed Kidwai or Govind Ballabh Pant went alone to meet Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, they always said to him that this is my opinion, but you must certainly take his opinion as well, because perhaps he can advise you better on this matter or issue. This was the greatness of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Govind Ballabh Pant. Between them, whether it was at Cabinet sittings or party meetings, there would be a verbal war, a verbal duel between the two, but when it came to making decisions, both talked of respecting each others opinion to Pandit Nehru. The second famous example is that of Acharya Narendra Dev. Acharyaji had formed the Praja Socialist party, but a delay was occurring in writing the party’s constitution and manifesto. The reason : Acharya Narendra Dev was quite ill. He sent a message to the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and his friend, Pandit Sampurnanand, that he should write the Praja Socialist party’s constitution and manifesto. Pandit Sampurnanand, on a priority basis, spent about seven or twelve days on writing the constitution and manifesto and sent it to Acharya Narendra Dev at Faizabad. When Pandit Sampurnanand’s handwritten copy reached Acharyaji, he sent it straightaway for publication to the press. Acharyaji’s colleagues said to him that Acharyaji, Sampurnanand is a big Congress leader, is a Chief Minister. You have told him to write the constitution and manifesto of a Socialist party. At least see it once to check whether he has put in some things that you do not want! Acharyaji’s reply was that when Sampurnanandji has written it, then he must have written it correctly and without changing a comma or a full stop, allowed it to go for publication. The constitution and manifesto of the Praja Socialist party are even today worthwhile reading material for political parties because there is in it not even the minutest scope for change. That is why even today it is known as an ideal constitution and an ideal manifesto.
The third example is of Shri Chandra Bhanu Gupta, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Once, people numbering about ten thousand from the Praja Socialist Party went to hold a demonstration against him. Their slogan was : ‘Gali gali mein shor hai, C B Gupta chor hai’ ( there is hue and cry in the lanes, C B Gupta is a thief ). All day they shouted slogans. The leaders of the Praja Socialist party did not have money to buy food for their workers. Chandrashekharji was in the Praja Socialist party at that time. He with one or two companions went to meet Chandra Bhanu Gupta, because he felt that he should ask Chandra Bhanu Gupta to make some arrangements for money with which to buy food for feeding the workers. When these people went to meet Chief Minister Chandra Bhanu Gupta, he said to them, ‘come cashless ones, hungry ones, what is it?’ They said ‘Guptaji, for the workers …’ that was all they said. He said don’t get hassled, I have made arrangements to provide food for ten thousand persons, ‘puris and subzi’ are being prepared. Gainda Singhji was with Chandrashekhar Singhji at that time. Chandra Bhanuji said, Gainda Singh, go there, ‘puri-subzi’ is being made for ten thousand persons. Bring it for them to eat. The leader at whom abusive slogans of ‘Gali gali mein shor hai, C B Gupta chor hai’ were being flung continuously throughout the day was also the one who made arrangements for feeding the ten thousand persons who were raising slogans against him. The political leaders of that time had this special thing about them. They did the work for their workers later, but did the work for people from the opposition first. They would meet people from the opposition and learn about problems first and alongside advised people from their own party to be patient.
This period it seems has now come to an end. In the meeting called by the Prime Minister we got to see that Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar did not even greet each other. They came face to face with each other in a small place, but did not look at each other. The indications from this incident are that the distances between the minds of political leaders have increased so much that in the matter of complying with general political etiquette, they seem even ‘lesser’ than their ordinary workers. Even now, when political workers from two parties meet in the districts or the States, apart from politics they discuss a lot of other things, but this behavior cannot now be seen on a large scale amongst leaders.
We believe that if there is talk between the leaders of various parties even over a cup of tea, and if the ice of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha still does not melt, it will certainly become softer. But a matter of regret ! Now there are no political leaders left for doing this. Atalji was the last Prime Minister whom MPs from every party tried to meet on a political level.
Chandrashekharji was probably the last person of those trends and times when people of every party would go to meet him and Chandrashekharji also always invited the leaders of very party or every ideology whenever he held a function or a ceremony. There, the kind of harmony, tolerance and dialogue and communication that was seen melted the frozen ice of politics. After Chandrashekharji, nobody carried on this ‘tradition’ in Indian politics. It is not happening in the States, because what is happening there is what they see happening in Delhi. The leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party do not meet each other. Congress leaders too meet with differences kept in their minds, and when they meet each other somewhere in their minds there is a feeling of ‘when can I lift you up and bang you on the ground’. When they meet and emerge outside, then their words and their reactions tell us that as long as they talked to each other, they did not listen to the other person and instead thought in their minds of how the other person could be murdered politically!
The Central Hall of Parliament is a big mirror. Whenever one looks into the Central Hall of Parliament, people from one party cannot be seen sitting together with people from another party. Everybody has their own circle. The current or former MPs of the RJD can be seen sitting with Laloo Yadav. With Sharad Yadav can be seen people from his own party. The big leaders of the Congress don’t sit there, but the biggest leader of the Congress, Ahmed Patel, when he sometimes goes there, has a crowd of MPs around him. Where the MPs sit, only those belonging to one party sit. The MPs from south India sit separately, they have no dialogue with MPs from north India. For the first time, a month ago, Rahul Gandhi sat in the Central Hall for 15 minutes, and a crowd of Congress MPs crowded near him and those who were at a distance were trying to show their faces to him from where they were. And as is Rahul Gandhi’s temperament, he neither recognises 90 per cent of people by face nor by name, but he was eagerly watching the exercise of how people wanted to show their faces to him. The big leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, amongst whom L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj are included do not sit in Central Hall either. Yes, Arun Jaitley does sit sometimes but whether it is Arun Jaitley or Sharad Pawar, instead of Congress members or Bharatiya Janata party members around them, there are more journalists.
This view is a view of the distortion in Indian politics. We believe that if there is talk between the leaders of various parties even over a cup of tea, and if the ice of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha still does not melt, it will certainly become softer. But a matter of regret ! Now there are no political leaders left for doing this. Atalji was the last Prime Minister whom MPs from every party tried to meet on a political level, and Atalji too, sent a message through the way he smiled at the person and provided a sense of political intimacy. But the present Prime Minister has created history. He has spent his whole time in Parliament as a Member of the Rajya Sabha, did not dare to fight the Lok Sabha elections, and did not sit on a single day in the Central Hall. He does not have time to meet his MPs and now the condition is such that those MPs too have stopped meeting the PM. Sonia Gandhi does not sit in Central Hall either, where at least MPs can show their faces to her. Behind the Central Hall there is an opening like ‘gallery’ from where Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Lal Krishna Advani leave without looking left or right, they keep walking straight ahead. There are some leaders amongst them whom people greet with a namaskar from a distance, but they do not deign to even reply. When this is the condition of Central Hall, then it seems impossible to expect that people with different ideologies or from different parties will sit together ostensibly to have tea or dhokla and talk about the country. Perhaps the irony of Indian politics is that dialogue has ended.