The History of the GOK


By Sunil Kumar


Another post on politics! Can’t help it; flavour of the season! Meeting Shekhar Gupta“ji”; one of the most well-known commentators on the scene; made me think a little about the history of the GOK(in my words; the Grand Old Khap; the incumbent party; the Congress of Indira).


Journalists with proximity to political power can often contribute to altering the destinies of nations; as Shekhar Gupta’s “Anticipating India” made me realise. Talking about subjects as diverse as Giani Zail Singh; the Ramgarhia Sikh from the Punjab; Narasimha Rao, Sitaram Kesri and a million others; Gupta seems to hold a mirror to contemporary society; the one in which all of us live as part of a collective.


The daily drama of election politics continues today with the Vadnagar grocer Narendra “Bhai” Modi’s charitable comments on Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel censured. Freedom of speech and expression may not be a particularly Gujarati patriarchal value; but it is ensured in the Indian constitution; as anybody from our erudite shouting classes can vouch for. The finance minister Chidambaram would concur; if his interests are affected in any manner whatsoever.


In a flashback to 1998; Gupta talks about “Chacha” Sitaram Kesri; the Bihari Machiavelli who was responsible for the collapse of two United Front Governments; costing the Indian taxpayer more money in the form of elections. In an internal coup d’etat; the honourable bunch of party sycophants managed to evict Kesri from the post after he was refusing to budge.



Politics inside the Grand Old Khap(The Congress) has always managed to be on similar lines; right from its inception. The Moderates and the Extremists(remember Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Lokmanya Tilak and Aurobindo) apart from Nehru and Patel; as well as Indira Gandhi and K.Kamraj is proof of a century-old tradition of established bickering. In fact; the creation of the two nation-states of India and Pakistan may not have happened if the scheming Kathiawari Quaid M.A Jinnah would not have been resentful of M.K Gandhi; another bania. If the authors of “Freedom At Midnight” are to be believed; his deputy was more than willing to go along with the single country formula.


After managing to establish the waitress from Italy in Congress HQ; the party forgot the liberaliser Narasimha Rao; who manages to express his anguish in this book. In fact; apart from Manmohan Singh; who was the FM in 91; it would be fair to give the credit to the PM Rao; who managed to steer the country away from the precipice it was hurtling towards.


Another interesting snippet; nearly one-third of political candidates have criminal records; with Bihar expectedly in the lead. When can a true overhaul happen; when wise economists; the media civil society and entrepreneurs can actually contribute in creating it; instead of the daily bluster that still manages to keep despots and tyrants in power; focusing on trivialities. The situation could be similar across the world; but change has happened; the most striking example could be the most cliched one; China.


The multiplicity of people; educated and illiterate; talking in a tone of admiration or condescension; are reflective of the state of society at large. Courtesy the Radia tapes; we already knew the prostitution and bankruptcy of power politics; the bed-hopping characteristic in political broking; and the supposedly ignobly “noble” media. More posts later!













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