By: V Sundaram
March 24, 2006
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Pontius Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judaea from 26 CE to 36 CE. In
this capacity, he was responsible for the execution of Jesus of Nazareth.
According to established traditions, during the course of the sham trial,
the persecutors of Jesus shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify
him!" Pilate responded by asking "Shall I crucify your king?". The chief
priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar". When Pontius Pilate saw
that he was getting nowhere and instead an uproar was starting, Pilate
handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of
Jesus. (John 19: 1-16). Pontius Pilate then took water and washed his
hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said.
"It is your responsibility"! (Mat 27:24).
Pontius Pilate did not realize the kind of severe test that awaited him
that Friday when he gave his vicious verdict. His examination placed him
in the seat of judgment over the Judge of the Universe who must die to pay
for Pilate"s sin, and that of the whole world. Boundaries are important
elements in the field of identifying and defending the truth, and can
sometimes be the vital differences between life and death. These thoughts
came to my mind against the background of the crumbling political
situation in New Delhi.
Two days ago I was reading a poem by the great German poet Erich Fried
which I thought is very relevant to Sonia Gandhi and the unenviable
situation in which Congress party finds itself today. This poem is
entitled "Washed Clean":
I knew a man
Whom I would have liked to forgive
That his hands
Were not clean
But he insisted
On washing himself publicly
From head to foot
With finger scrubbed carefully pink
I could see on him
Were those places
That had grown chapped and rough
From so much scrubbing!
Sonia Gandhi took a high moral ground and stated that she was giving up
her seat in the Lok Sabha and also the post of Chairman of the National
Advisory Council because she felt that was right. If we can take her at
the face value, then the next question is what made her declare that all
the other Members of Parliament from her party who were also holding
offices of profit were under no obligation to "resign" their seats in the
Lok Sabha. If this is not political somersault, then what is it?
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has paid the following tribute to Sonia
Gandhi: "I consider her as the tallest leader in India today". This
marvellous tribute made me imagine a situation where the following garland
of tributes could have been paid by some of the following stalwarts of the
UPA if they had the good fortune and privilege of having the same
advantage as Dr Manmohan Singh:
HRD Minister Arjun Singh:
I consider Sonia Gandhi as an outstanding leader because of the three
shining signals continuously being given by her to all of us, generosity
in the design, humanity in the execution, and moderation and humility in
Power Minister Shinde:
She is the greatest woman I know who chooses the right with invincible
resolution; who resists the sorest temptations from within and without;
who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully and who is most fearless under
all kinds of menace and whose reliance on truth, on virtue, is most
unfaltering and whose trust in me is total and Himalayan.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Das Munshi:
There never was any heart truly great and gracious, that was not also so
tender and compassionate.
Her greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of
strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a
person above his fellows for his own solitary glory. This is not the rule
with Sonia. I consider her as the greatest whose strength carries up all
the hearts by the attraction of her own. She has forgotten her own
greatness and always asked for the truth. No wonder God has always given
Gulam Nabi Azad:
Our nation"s greatness lies not in her natural or material resources, but
in Sonia"s will, faith, intelligence and moral forces.
Great leaders like Sonia are the commissioned guides of mankind, who rule
their fellows because they are wiser and nobler.
The language of politics in India has been debased and debauched by all
political parties in the last 35 years, and more so by the Congress party.
Flattery, though a base coin, has become the necessary and unavoidable
pocket money in Indian politics today. By custom and consent, it has
obtained such a popular currency that it is no longer a fraudulent or
counterfeit payment but a legal payment. The whole nation knows that Sonia
loves flattery even though she sees through it and is not deceived by it,
for it shows that she is of great global importance significant enough to
be courted all the time.
Samuel Johnson wrote a hilarious essay on "Flatterers and rogues who love
flattery". This is what he said: "To be flattered is grateful, even when
we know that our praises are not believed by those who pronounce them; for
they prove at least our power, and show that our favour is valued, since
it is purchased by the sincere meanness of orchestrated falsehood".
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