Why One Need Not Be Surprised That Pavan Varma Hopped On To Didi's Bandwagon

Why One Need Not Be Surprised That Pavan Varma Hopped On To Didi's Bandwagon

by R Jagannathan - Thursday, November 25, 2021 02:45 PM IST
Why One Need Not Be Surprised That Pavan Varma Hopped On To Didi's BandwagonPavan Varma with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
  • Pavan Varma truly believes that the pursuit of unprincipled politics is okay if it helps him personally get closer to the seats of power.

The entry of Pavan Varma, a former foreign service officer and Janata Dal (U) member till Nitish Kumar expelled him, into the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is proof yet again that those who once enjoyed power, whether as bureaucrat or politician, refuse to fade away. Without power, they feel rootless. And in the pursuit of power and status, they don’t care for any particular principle that they may have espoused earlier. And, for starters, they always look at their new-found friends with rose-tinted glasses.

Soon after joining the TMC in the presence of Mamata Banerjee, Varma is quoted as saying that she will be in Delhi by 2024. “Keeping the political circumstances in mind, it is imperative to strengthen the Opposition… Mamata Di will be a deciding factor in 2024 and she will play a national role,” he predicted. He claimed he would be happy to carry out any work assigned to him by his new party.

The mention of Didi as a factor in Delhi after the next general elections is significant not only because it may flatter her, but because it embeds Varma’s hope that he will be part of that new power structure. The humble claim that he will do any work allotted to him by the party has to be taken with a pinch of salt, for that is what any cross-over politician claims on Day One. It is when they get nothing that they start speaking out about how the party they joined does not value them or, even better, that their policies are a betrayal of the “people”.

When Yashwant Sinha didn’t get any post in the new Modi administration after 2014, he bided his time till some party would accept him. It was the Trinamool. Arun Shourie was very enthusiastic about backing Modi before 2014, but when he was excluded from the cabinet, he turned anti-Modi. And the same Lutyens media, which would not touch him with a bargepole before 2014, suddenly gave him a forum to air his negative views on the new Modi government.

In Pavan Varma’s case, though, one should not have worried about where he would end up once he was turfed out of the JD(U).

In his book Being Indian: Inside The Real India, Varma makes it clear that the pursuit of power to the exclusion of principles is very Indian. And India has taken to democracy not because the average Indian is a democrat, but because it is a system he (or she) can easily hijack for his (her) own ends. One can assume that the poor would certainly want to trade their votes for a share of political and economic largesse, but Varma assures us, even the better-off Indian seek a share of state power for dubious ends. He writes: “Educated Indians behave in exactly the same way in the pursuit of power as their poor or illiterate compatriots."

Here are some other quotes from his book:

"The truth then is that democracy has survived in India not because Indians are democratic, but because democracy has proved to be the most effective instrument for the cherished pursuit of power. People stifling in the pressure cooker of a hierarchically sealed society embraced the machinery of democratic politics for the promise it held of upward mobility within the inherited framework of an undemocratic society."

"Democracy did not adopt India. Indians usurped democracy."

Put simply, Varma has not joined Trinamool Congress for any particular principle it embodies, but because it seems like a good horse to ride in case 2024 throws up a hung house where Mamata Banerjee may seek the top office for herself, or is in a position to influence its policies.

And don’t fret over Varma’s laughable claim of wanting to strengthen the opposition, for the fact that cadres in his new party believe in murder and mayhem has not pricked his conscience much. Nor does the fact that many defeated leaders and supporters of the opposition BJP in West Bengal were targeted after Didi won the assembly elections this May. The opposition he wants to strengthen is the one that could put him in a position of power or influence, not the opposition in West Bengal which is under attack by Didi’s cadres.

These are not points to note now, but if and when Varma needs to leave the TMC, these negative points in Didi’s rule will suddenly become the reason for his departure.

Varma truly believes that, like the average Indian, the pursuit of unprincipled politics is okay if it helps him personally get closer to the seats of power.

Varma, who has written on The Great Hindu Civilisation, does not apparently subscribe to the core Hindu ideas of sequentially pursuing the four ashramas in life – Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa – or the four purusharthas (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha) with some degree of balance. Vanaprastha does not seem to interest him at age 68, nor does the exalted pursuit of Dharma with a lower component of artha and kama.

(This is a corrected version. In the earlier version, paragraph four wrongly mentioned Varma instead of Arun Shourie)

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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