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Monday, Nov 01, 2004

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Nasty trends

B. S. Raghavan

THE United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at New Delhi seems to be carrying out some sort of a cleansing operation with reference to the appointees of the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government. Some holier-than-thou sections of the media and party leaders in the opposite camp have been raising a ruckus, forgetting that what the UPA coalition is doing is of a piece with traditions already in vogue since the days of Indira Gandhi.

Those appointed by the previous regime to what the current regime regards as sensitive or important positions invariably become suspect.

This tendency gets aggravated when, as in the case of NDA and UPA, there is sharp and irreconcilable ideological conflict, say, between secularism and Hindutva, and the appointees are presumed to have been planted there to toe the regime's line.

So also, it is a given that successor governments will throw into the dustbin even worthwhile schemes launched by their predecessors. Thus, a big question mark, if not the Damocles' Sword itself, hangs over the NDA promoted projects of the Golden Quadrilateral and inter-linking of rivers. The same mindset is asserting itself in the States as well.

Take the case of Governors being shown the door. At least there was some pretext of their ideological colouration in respect of some of them. But in the case of the Tamil Nadu Governor, Mr P. S. Ramamohan Rao, the ostensible excuse given by the Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, (that he failed to host the Independence Day party) takes the cake for its absurdity.

What makes it all the more of a wolf-and-the-lamb story is that he trotted it out after first mentioning as the reason that Mr Rao did not hoist the flag and take the salute on August 15 this year!

With all the paraphernalia of his sprawling Ministry and hundreds of sleuths in the Intelligence Bureau, Mr Patil was not aware that in Tamil Nadu, for half-a-century, it is the only the Chief Minister who has been taking the salute on that day.

Over the years the objectionable trends are getting only nastier. It is not just that old world courtesies and decencies of public life are being thrown to the winds on all sides; such mutual hatreds cause tremendous damage to public interest, besides showing our democracy in poor light. When are our politicians going to grow up?

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