History repeats, first as farce, then as tragedy

The BJP’s “Gateway to the South” is riddled with so many holes that it is beginning to look like Swiss cheese. And dissidents and rebels raise their head so regularly in the “party with a difference” that you could almost set your watch by it. Little wonder, in between each round of dissidence, the chief minister ravaged by scams and scandals, his and that of his colleagues, chants the “development” and “governance” mantra like a stuck cuckoo clock.

The only sane way to cover Karnataka’s comical—and deeply shameful—politics under the watch of the holier-than-thou party with a difference, it seems, is through comics and cartoons.


Editorial in The Hindu:

“The BJP continues to pay the price for opportunistically cobbling together a majority in the Assembly after the 2008 general election with the help of independents, and then carrying out ‘Operation Lotus,’ a euphemism for engineering defections from other parties.

“Karnataka, which has tremendous development potential led by India’s internationally admired IT capital, Bangalore, seems set to limp from one political crisis to another till the next general election.”

Editorial in The Indian Express:

“The ease with which legislators can be persuaded to shift parties is the big, distorting factor in the state. Karnataka’s politics boils with money. Its legislators are fickle, used to picking party allegiances on the basis of inducements of patronage that make some of the country’s biggest political scandals look paltry in scale. The tentacles of powerful mining and real estate interests snake into every major party. Conflicts of interest have flooded the system with so much cash that it is crucial to restore balance.”

Editorial in Deccan Herald:

“The revolt in itself is a symptom of a debilitating disease that the body politic in Karnataka is suffering from. Over the past few years, the moral standards of elected representatives in the state have degenerated drastically. The anti-defection law has not been able to check the rampant horse-trading and hocking of loyalty. Nor for that matter, the changes in the electoral laws have been able to stem the entry of the corrupt and corruptible into public life.

“The enormous power that MLAs and the ministers command is attracting the dregs of society to politics. While it is easy to blame the voters for electing such persons, one has to look at the broader picture to find the source of the malady.

“Certain undesirable aspects of the liberalisation of the economy, chiefly the rejection of service motto and altruism and placing money as the raison d’etre of individual and society had to have its consequences on public life. With wealth replacing learning and service as a virtue, it was inevitable that society at large would some day accept passively and unquestioningly, the pursuit of power and wealth as legitimate, even desirable goals. That explains the acutely worrisome public tolerance of the contemporary sordid politics.”

Cartoons: courtesy Surendra & Keshav/ The Hindu; Unny/ The Indian Express; P. Mahmud/ Praja Vani

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