Blame it on personality politics

Another interesting narrative that has emerged from the abusive act is, how could the people of South Delhi elect someone like Bidhuri as their representative.

Published: 25th September 2023 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th September 2023 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

Video grab of the exchange between Ramesh Bidhuri (L) and Danish Ali in LS

Express News Service

When Member of Parliament from South Delhi, Ramesh Bidhuri was making abusive remarks in the Lok Sabha, two very seasoned members from his party Dr Harshvardhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad were seen laughing.

The three-decades-long exposure covering politics, especially Delhi, has given opportunity for several interactions with these gentlemen. That Ramesh Bidhuri could speak the way he did, despite now almost a decade in Parliament, and before that in state assembly, was not surprising but that Harshvardhan and Prasad could find it to be a laughing matter surprised many.

It’s difficult to believe that given their career trajectory, they could at the spur of the moment ‘endorse’ what Bidhuri said. Both Harshvardhan and Prasadaretoday are in the political wilderness, and it's easy to believe that they were probably laughing at the muck that the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of the ruling dispensation was bringing on the party.

In fact many in the ruling BJP benches are dismayed by Bidhuri’s behaviour, especially considering that this incident occurred on a day when the party was celebrating the passage of the Women’s Bill and the success of the Chandrayaan mission, Both of these the BJP wants to showcase in the run-up to the next Lok Sabha polls. When the leaders of the ruling benches have visibly toned down their body language and shown to be more receptive towards Opposition, leading to productive functioning of the House, here comes the fusillade with the lethal potential to destroy the government’s goodwill.

Another interesting narrative that has emerged from the abusive act is, how could the people of South Delhi elect someone like Bidhuri as their representative. Foremost, it’s to be understood that posh South Delhi colonies no longer form part of the South Delhi Lok Sabha constituency.

The current areas of this seat were earlier part of the Outer Delhi constituency, and following the delimitation in the 2009 polls, they became part of the South Delhi seat. The majority of the posh colonies of the erstwhile South Delhi seat meanwhile became either part of the expanded New Delhi seat or the rearranged West Delhi seat.

The areas now under the South Delhi seat are those that were part of rural Delhi and are now home to a large number of unauthorised colonies. In the older times, BJP’s Sahib Singh Verma and Congress’s Sajjan Kumar represented these seats. Both belonged to the Jat community, however, following the 2009 delimitation it’s the rival Gujjar community that has come to gain the upper hand and thus the rise of Ramesh Bidhuri.

However, Bidhuri is not an unchallenged leader of the constituency. His success in the polls is attributable to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charism, or how else even people from his close family lose in the local municipal and state assembly polls. Of the 10 assembly seats in the South Delhi parliamentary segment, the BJP could manage to win just one seat in the 2020 polls. This seat too has been won by a veteran party-hopper Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, the present leader of the Opposition in the Delhi assembly.

The past two assembly polls and the two Lok Sabha polls have revealed that the voter in Delhi is either voting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Here the merits of the local candidates are getting dwarfed, which is very harmful to the parliamentary form of democracy.

The question is, who is to be held responsible for the behaviour of Ramesh Bidhuri, the party that gave him a ticket or the people who elected him? The people of South Delhi can safely say that they voted for Prime Minister Modi and not Bidhuri. In that case, will the party discipline Bidhuri or retain him to be the spearhead of the anti-minority narrative?

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice

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