By Sushil Kutty
Horses are noble animals. And to taint their name with the slur of horse-trading is a disgrace. The political horse-trading currently going on in Rajasthan, and possibly Maharashtra, with tentacles spread out to Delhi and Bengaluru is the pits. Udaipur, Jaipur and Mumbai are also in the news. And the horses up for auction aren’t thoroughbreds.
June 10 is Rajya Sabha elections, and the seats that escaped the “elected unopposed’ tag are up for grabs. For the past week, the Congress has been telegraphing its fears of horse-trading. That is, its MLAs might be targeted for horse-trading. The political party which bids the highest, that party’s candidate will get a seat in the venerable Upper House of India’s Parliament.
The “temple of democracy” as kids wet behind the ears are told of Parliament in their impressionable years! The fact of the matter is, Indian politicians who make it to India’s legislatures are in a class of their own. Many of them can be bought, sold, and paid off. The voter who voted for them are completely out of the picture once the vote has been cast.
All that talk we hear of “public hai ye sab jaanti hai”, and “you cannot fool the voter”, is bunkum. If anything, the public is a repeat offender, electing the same shaggy horse, again and again. And, for the past several days, a number of such winning horses are in the marketplace holding on to their precious votes, legal tender to fill their coffers.
The Rajya Sabha elections are alleged money-spinners for MLAs. Every political party wallows in the marketplace of MLAs at the time of the Rajya Sabha elections. And normally, it’s the ruling party at the Centre which finds itself at the centre of the stockade. So, allegations are that the BJP is at the Centre of horse-trading this time round.
That the BJP is allegedly the lead horse-trader in Rajasthan, where four Rajya Sabha seats are in the reckoning. Three of them, the Congress is expected to win. But the last of the four has been witnessing hectic horse-trading though the horse-trader is not a politician, rather a media baron with deep pockets.
This gentleman is supported by the BJP! A nice trick, one that is being played on the Rajya Sabha, on the Parliament, and on the people, the electorate. The BJP, the erstwhile party with a difference, will not be accused of horse-trading as the media baron is more than happy to shoulder that accusation in exchange for the Rajya Sabha seat!
This sort of horse-trading is par for course. It will help the BJP get closer to majority in the Upper House, which has not seen single-party majority in 40 years!
That said, the trick to keep the marauding horse-trader at bay is to keep all your MLAs locked up, not leave them to temptation. Accordingly, all the top political parties have “boarded” their MLAs in resorts, and in fancy hotels. Like so many horses in stockades, wrangler duties handed to party politicians sent from Delhi!
The Congress MLAs are boarded in the same Udaipur hotel in which the party had held its recent Sankalp Chintan Shivir. The party doesn’t want to take any chances with the media baron’s support-staff sniffing around.
But reports are that three MLAs of a party allied to the Congress didn’t turn up at the Udaipur hotel; one of them an MLA who recently beat up three Rajasthan Electricity Board engineers. Now, he is out on bail, but refuses to proceed to Udaipur as he doesn’t fancy “imprisonment” anywhere, even in a 5-Star hotel!
The Congress can only bear it, grin it cannot. Among rumours doing the rounds, one is that Rs 40 crore changed hands with the media baron in the thick of the hard currency. Also, three MLAs, two of them from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, were the beneficiaries. Reports say they will not vote Congress.
The BJP has hoarded and boarded its MLAs in a top hotel in Jaipur. In Maharashtra, where, too, June 10 is set to elect RS MPs, the Congress and the Shiv Sena have taken precautions, barricading their MLAs in secure locations. Here, too, the alleged big bad horse thief is the BJP.
Simple fact is, none of the political parties are innocent. They are all horse-traders. Politics is the last resort for the dubious. The problem is politicians are forgiven for their indulgences, and let off lightly. By the media, and by the people. Their escapades are overlooked. Their horse-trading excused, and the horses allowed to bolt long before the stables were bolted shut. (IPA Service)