Bahu Bhi Kabhi
In the beginning
it was all very awe-inspiring. The world's largest democracy
was doing itself proud.
results of all the parliamentary seats were announced, and within
hours of the national trend being known in the first-ever e-poll
the incumbent Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee led
his saff-ed cavalcade to the majestic red sandstone and marble
Rashtrapati Bhaban (designed by London-born English Architect
Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944), a foreigner) to tender his
resignation. The entire ambience was redolent with solemnity.
keeping with democratic practices, President Abul Kalam requested
Vajpayee to continue as PM till a new government took over.
Wah! Kya baat hai!
Hindu nationalist Lal Krishna Advani appeared a perfect gentleman
and earned points for his dignity, as he bade his Home Ministry
staff farewell within hours of Congress emerging as the largest
party. His walk in the library was particularly poignant.
bar on Indian television displaying 'BJP will not make Sonia's
foreign origin an issue' took the breath away of a world that
watched in admiration the apparent smooth transfer of power
between diabolically opposite political beliefs.
shamed many so-called democracies around the globe because one,
the developments were counter to exit polls even a week back,
and two, in spite of the apparently unexpected swing the difference
in numbers between the two heavies was not to be that pronounced
in the end, although 'others' were expected to endorse any package
marked 'secular', read anti Hindu fundamentalism, as demonstrated
by BJP and parties bracketed in its alliance.
shamed many so-called democracies because there was no call
for re-poll, no cry of fraud, no accusation of bias against
the Election Commission, no claim of large-scale rigging, no
post-results killing, no demand for recount (sic Bush)...
the saffron colours began to show.
Swaraj (last Parliamentary Affairs Minister) announced she would
resign as MP and shave her head if Turin-born-Italian-Indian-national-gori-feeringee
(TV channels and agencies) Sonia Gandhi was sworn in as the
Prime Minister. She said that it was not possible for her to
address Sonia as 'Madam Prime Minister' because she was not
an Indian by birth. The logic behind the firebrand Hindu fundamentalist's
statement was lost in the mayhem because if Sonia did get to
become the Indian PM then Sushma, as an Indian citizen, would
have to accept her as 'Madam Prime Minister'; that's democracy,
was talk of a BJP & Co.'s boycott of the swearing-in ceremony
(surprise surprise Vajpayee would attend), threat to denounce
the day as 'Black' and a public interest court case by Lucknow
lawyer Asoke Pandey, only because she was not born between Kargil
and Kanniyakumari, although the electorate voted overwhelmingly
for her Congress and against the BJP-led alliance.
dithering policy of the communists underscored by their catch-fish-no-chui-paani
strategy made Sonia weak inside the House and helped stocks
to plummet, where crash records were shattered on 'Bloody Monday'
17 May, giving the Hindu fundamentalists the edge to stir up
a racist hullabaloo, as some Congress people dubbed the anti-Sonia
In a dramatic
twist, akin to a Bollywood blockbuster, Sonia announced her
decision not to be sworn in as the next PM of India.
was let loose. Sonia sympathizers contemplated committing suicide
and hunger strike unto death. BJP adherents licked their wounds
and gave a wry smile; they found the perfect crutch with which
they would now be able to limp to the parliament.
the Indians were behaving like any other purported democracy.
Leaders in those ostensible democracies were once again caught
by the 'feel good' factor. Calm settled in those countries.
Marxist leader Jyoti Basu perhaps echoed the sentiments of secular
India by proclaiming Sonia as a Bharatiya bodhu. She wed Rajiv
Gandhi 1968. No one objected. She became an Indian citizen 1983.
No one said a word.
one further when she became de facto the wife of an Indian premier
1984-1989. No one uttered a syllable.
the Leader of the Indian National Congress party 1998. No one
made her pedigree an issue.
Sonia Gandhi achieved the unique distinction of a first-time
MP and a woman to become the Leader of the Opposition, a position
that even her famous mother-in-law did not hold. No one took
notice of her ancestry.
in the Indian parliament for five years as the Leader of the
Opposition in the 13th Lok Sabha 1999-2004. Despite her political
ascent no one questioned her foreign descent.
her party to victory 13 May 2004. No sound from any quarter.
She is nominated
by Congress and a score of allies to form the government and
is set to become the Prime Minister 16 May. Boom! The then Union
Minister of Karnataka Sushma Swaraj suddenly remembered that
it was this Sonia Gandhi who defeated her by over 50,000 votes
in the Bellary constituency in Bohu's first attempt.
of the BJP stand has been that made many Western girls broke
off their engagement to desi Indians and NRIs. One gora girl's
argument says it all: 'If I cannot become the Indian Prime Minister
what is the point of marrying you, uh?'
and company, if it may quench your communal thirst, you may
take heart from the fact that Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (1924-1988),
strongman-president of aap ki jaani dushman Pakistan (1978-1988),
was born in Jullundur, India, and attended the Royal Indian
Military Academy and was commissioned in 1945. He did not spy
If you think
this write-up reeks of a Sonia bias because I would have any
problem in the foreseeable future, let me tell you that I was
born in Barisal, the Venice of Bangladesh, ooops!