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KT Edit: Naked greed for power bruises India's democracy

Filed on November 24, 2019 | Last updated on November 24, 2019 at 08.43 pm

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues its relentless march across Indian states and jackboots towards a monopoly, its latest acquisition of the coveted state of Maharashtra in a pre-dawn blitz has raised more than eyebrows. Pulling the rug from under its erstwhile ally, the Shiv Sena, was not foreseen as the Sena played footsie with the Congress and was ready to bid for the government. Out of the blue in a post-midnight coup that belies all democratic traditions, the BJP toadied up to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) breakaway element led by Ajit Pawar, President's rule was annulled, the President signed a promulgation and before breakfast a new government was installed with BJP favourite Devendra Fadnavis continuing as chief minister.

But the drama of the horse trade that now marks Indian electoral results has not ended with the NCP splinter faction reportedly slithering back to the mother fold and ostensibly by today leaving the BJP holding a tattered minority banner. The fallout could well beach the BJP's ambitious crusade and give the democratic citadel a bruising that should rightly leave Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party red-faced and cornered into explaining why naked greed was allowed to supersede basic common sense and rational thought in ensuring the numbers before creating this pre-dawn spectacle. This will hurt the image of the BJP which, as the party with the largest votes, could have stayed in Opposition against a rickety coalition that most likely would not have survived the course. Once this fiasco is over whatever the outcome India will now have to reckon with the revival of the Anti-defection bill, the 52nd Amendment to the Constitution, introduced in 1985 and inserted in the Tenth Schedule the same year. Although it has been used on a few occasions to chastise defectors, it largely rusts in its own glory. Clearly the BJP seems unfazed and as the leading political entity in the nation seems even more cavalier over protecting and defending democratic traditions which they have sworn to uphold. Could the vital Maharashtra impasse and its clumsy conclusions be a signal that the BJP has surrendered its lofty promises for the giddy pleasure of raw power.

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