BJP demands its pound of flesh for Sengol installation

BJP demands its pound of flesh for Sengol installation

Democracy today is a regime of clients rather than citizens.


Shiv Visvanathan, Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India


Union home minister Amit Shah is a many-sided character, combining the comically matter of fact and a sense of threat in his style. Recently, he informed the people that Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves Tamil Nadu, and has a special place in his heart and his constituency for Tamil culture.

Shah also claims that Tamil Nadu should be grateful to Modi for installing the Sengol in Parliament. He outlines Modi’s deeds, listing out each act. You know there is an impending bill to pay. A few references to Tamil Nadu, comes at high cost and Shah cheerfully announces that Tamil Nadu should show its gratitude by voting 25 BJP members to Parliament. In Shah’s lingo, there is little difference between toll, tax, and gift. The crucial part lies in the manner of repayment. A lack of acknowledgement and a lack of payment both become default. Tamil Nadu now owes the regime as it has defaulted on major gifts.

Behind all this is a deeper statement, a sense of a fait accompli, that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is here to stay, and we better get used to it. The sheer matter-of-factness needs a deeper reading. A mix of metaphors and eras makes the story even more confusing, Shah, symbolically plays the messenger telling Tamil Nadu that they are vassals of the BJP regime, that gratitude and sycophancy go together. Almost insidiously, Shah is making the BJP on par with the Chola dynasty of the Lutyens regime. There is something seductive about the trappings of power. If power is a costume ball, the BJP is getting used to it. That they are here to stay after 2024. It is time to revise Lord Acton’s observation that power seduces, and absolute power seduces absolutely.

Published in: Deccan Herald

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