Newspapers are supposedly going out of fashion as TV, internet, and the mobile phone become the weapons of mass distraction.
Readers are supposedly not reading “boring” editorials.
But these editorials from five English newspapers today, on the high drama around the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, show why newspapers will be the moral compass at a time when television is part of the establishment artillery.
The Hindu: Madras: An unseemly contest
“This bitter contest is a lesson on how Rajya Sabha elections should not be fought. The House derives its legitimacy from the fact that elected representatives of the people in State Assemblies constitute the electors. It is an abuse of this scheme for political parties to encourage cross-voting. When their strength in the Assembly is known, it is unseemly to field an extra candidate and force a contest. The run-up to the vote saw attempts to win over rival legislators and counter-poaching tactics. The Congress packed off its 44 MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru, where it is in power. This was followed by an income tax raid on a Karnataka minister.
All this lent the impression that the BJP would stop at nothing to deny the Congress a seat. This was compounded by the fact that the Congress had nominated Mr. Patel, a close confidant of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a power centre in the party. This gave the election the colour of a proxy tussle between the BJP and Congress leaderships. The ultimate outcome is a morale booster for the Congress at a time when it seems to lack vibrancy and vitality. As for the BJP, it should serve as a reminder that the pursuit of unquestioned political supremacy at the cost of democratic norms most often boomerangs.”
Indian Express, Delhi: Low and high
“Yet, in these RS elections in Gujarat, the defections of Congress MLAs to the BJP, and the timing of income tax raids on a Congress crisis manager involved in safeguarding party legislators from alleged BJP lures, have raised a troubling question: Just how far is the BJP willing to go, to win? Gujarat RS elections have only reinforced the unease sparked by the backroom manoeuvres through which the BJP has managed to form governments in states it had lost in the elections to other parties, be it Manipur, Goa or Bihar. Its large mandate in 2014 gave it a position of dominance, but the BJP seems to show little deference to the checks and restraints that also come with power in a constitutional framework.”
Deccan Herald, Bangalore: Power-hungry BJP exposed in RS polls
“The BJP exposed itself by resorting to worst possible machinations that forced the Congress to ferry its MLAs to Bengaluru so that there are no attempt to contact or influence them by the saffron outfit. The BJP put all its might in its effort win just one Rajya Sabha seat using questionable means. This election has discredited the BJP in a big way. These have left the BJP much to explain for its tactics, which were hardly democratic. By making Patel’s election a prestige battle, the Modi-Shah duo has exposed the BJP’s hunger for power at any cost and willingness to grab it by any means.”
The Pioneer, Delhi: Booster for Congress
“BJP chief Amit Shah may have had good reasons to mount a no-holds-barred campaign to try and deny Congress heavyweight and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel his sixth Rajya Sabha term. But by raising the pitch to this extent, the BJP has only itself to blame for the embarrassment it now faces. The Congress, on its part, did not cover itself with glory by forcibly confining its legislators first in a Karnataka resort and later at another one near Ahmedabad. It showed the party’s nervousness and lack of faith in its own MLAs. Whether the BJP tried to lure them as alleged by the Congress, will never be proved, but there is no doubt that this election brought out the most unsavoury of contemporary Indian political practices.”
The Tribune, Chandigarh: Dabang-giri rolled back
“The outcome of the Gandhinagar drama has a meaning way beyond Gujarat. Of late, we have scripted a Machiavellian narrative that places maximum premium on ‘winning’ at all cost — to the total exclusion of ethical considerations. In this narrative poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of the state machinery for intimidation are all commended as resourcefulness. The winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also of possible criminality. It is this creeping ‘new normal’ of political (im)morality that stands refuted in Gandhinagar.”
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