Too much concentration of power in the hands of one person does not augur well for democracy in India. It is kind of a bane of the Indian democracy, feels the celebrated journalist Mark Tully, who won million accolades during his innings with the BBC. Mark Tully, who is here to take part in the three-day Khushwant Singh Literature festival, minced no words in reaffirming that the Indian political leaders, perhaps, cannot handle ‘absolute power.’In a conversation with Daily Post, he recounted how former prime minister Indira Gandhi ended up both her terms of absolute power in a kind of mess. One with an emergency and another with the Operation Bluestar. Similarly, Rajiv Gandhi, he said, also fumbled in spite of an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha. He felt that instead of one political party gaining outright majority the coalition governments were better for the dispensation in India. Does it mean that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would fall in the same class? “I cannot say really but the kind of aggressive and surcharged atmosphere that we see around is surely a reason to be concerned,” he added.When asked why ‘intolerance’ has become a buzz word in the society ever since the BJP-majority government was formed in the Centre, Mark Tully said it was for the first time that the BJP gained outright majority and since the BJP comes from the family of RSS. So because of what people think of RSS this atmosphere of intolerance has come about. “But it will be an outright exaggeration to say that it is an emergency-like situation or that the Constitution is under threat,” said Tully, who spoke elaborately on his latest book, Upcountry Tales, at a session in the Litfest. He said basically the culture of India has been that of pluralism and tolerance. “But suddenly we find kind of a suggestive statement coming from the rightist quarters that either you are with us or against us which has been disturbing,” Tully felt.Asked if he thought the BJP government should have been more forthright to dispel this impression or the feeling in society, the former BBC stalwart, who has authored seven books so far, wanted the prime minister and his ministers to have been pro-active in smothering such feelings. How about political scene in days to come ? Tully expressed strong apprehension about voters getting divided on religious lines in the forthcoming elections. He felt that the outcome of the Assembly elections in four states would have a bearing on the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
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