Flea-dom at Midnight

This is a Guest post. I'm thankful to Mr Kishore Asthana for permission to publish his excellent write-up on my blog.

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With apologies to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Thoughts of the leaders of the smaller partners at the formation of UPA 2 a year back…

Some hours ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our wealth, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to coalition and corruption. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the ambitions of a nations smaller political parties, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of our own parochial interests and to the still larger cause of political blackmail.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today those ideals and Indian politicians discover their selfishness again. The accumulation of wealth we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and riches that await us. Are we not cynical enough and dishonest enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

Coalition and power bring opportunity. The opportunity rests upon this Cabinet, a sovereign body representing the united ruling coalition of India. Before the birth of coalition we have endured all the pains of elections and our pockets are lighter with the expenditure of this endeavor. Some of those costs continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often made to ourselves and the one we shall make today. Service in the Cabinet means the accumulation of the millions which await. It means the ending of our own poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest men of our parties has been to wipe every tear from every eye of every party member. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are government budgets to be spent, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for ourselves, but they are also for our party, for all its members are too closely knit together today by the lure of lucre for any one of them to imagine that he can live apart from the party. Greed has been said to be indivisible; so is corruption, so is cynicism now, and so also is disaster if this government is split into isolated fragments and loses power.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism of our corruption, no time for ill-will or blaming us. We have to build our cash hordes and foreign bank accounts in tax havens where our children may dwell.

The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and UPA stands forth again, after long election and negotiations, awake, vital and dependent upon the smaller partners. The past Ministers cling on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the moneys we have so often dreamt about. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new coalition rises, the coalition of UPA 2, in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished by our politicians materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by sting operations!

We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But coalition brings opportunities and we have to exploit them in the spirit of a powerful and undisciplined political people.

On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the Mother of our Coalition, who, embodying the old spirit of UPA 1, held aloft the torch of Coalition and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us. We have often been unworthy followers of hers and have strayed from her message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great lady, magnificent in her faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of Coalition to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the media tempest.

Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and party workers who, without praise or reward, have served our Parties, sometimes even unto death.

We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the Coalition that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall keep flaunting our good luck in the face of their ill fortune.

The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavor? To bring thousands and crores to our families, to our friends; to fight and end poverty of our political party; to build up a prosperous and demanding partnership , and to corrupt social, economic and political institutions which will ensure our version of justice and fullness of life to every man and woman in our party.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of our Party what destiny intended them to be. We are members of small parties on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that expected standard of corruption. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no politician can be great whose words do not pander to these sentiments.

To the nations and peoples of the tax havens of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering the bank accounts in their countries. And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage as we bind ourselves afresh to our own service.

Jai Hind!

Kishore Asthana