Fronts and friendships

The Indian political party is just a vehicle on its way to Delhi. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph:

Despite Disraeli’s belief that parliamentary government is impossible without parties, the current campaign suggests that the principal – often only – purpose of a party is to further the ambitions of an individual. Parties presuppose ideas if not ideology. A great deal of time, effort, expense and anguish might be avoided if this pretence were dropped.

It has in practice. There’s anxious heartburning when Sitaram Yechury calls on Sharad Yadav or any other party leader not because he might convert them to revolution but because he keeps the headcount in the quinquennial Gentlemen vs Politicians race for the prime ministership. As for the other half, Mayavati and Jayalalithaa probably regard themselves as the only men in clusters of old women. But does that make them Gentlemen? When Barbara Castle lamented in the Commons that the English bulldog (Churchill) had become America’s lapdog, a Tory MP yelled, “You are not, of course, a dog!” He didn’t need to spell out the alternative for sedate members even on his own side to express shock.

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