When a couple of years ago, Sonia Gandhi became active in Congress Politics a few years ago and it began to look that she might become the future Prime Minister, all kinds of mayhem happened. The Congress split because a few who believed that Indian citizens of foreign origin should not occupy that post walked out to form the Nationalist Congress Party. It is another matter that now that platform has been abandoned.

Then of course, the UPA came into power and for a while it looked that many peoples’ worst fears might become reality. I still remember Sushma Swaraj coming on television to share with viewers the mourning rituals she would go through of sleeping on the floor, cutting of her hair and easing gram and all, the day Sonia took oath. But of course that never happened and today all that looks a bit distant to us today.

But some where else in the world, perhaps some thing more bizarre is happening. Alberto Fujimori, two term president of Peru with a not too particularly distinguished record and who is currently under house arrest in Chile will run for a seat in the Japanese Parliamentary elections due later this month. He actually speaks of returning to the presidency in Peru too. Fujimori said in a telephonic interview “I will run as a proportional representational candidate for the People’s New Party to work for Asian diplomacy, on the North Korea problem and for the safety of the Japanese public,” Fujimori said in a conversation put on speakerphone so the audience in Tokyo could hear it. Kamei said he wanted Fujimori — who holds Japanese citizenship — to put “his knowledge, rich experience and reputation” to use in Japan.

Well this is interesting and I have not heard anything like this before in recent times. The closest illustration that can be thought of is perhaps that of the British monarch being the Head of State in countries of Australia, Canada and the like but then those countries have a long historical connection with the UK. But there is no parallel to this that some one who has held office as Head of State in one country contesting elections for a Parliamentary seat in another country in another continent and with possible political ambitions in Japan too after two terms of office in Peru. Up till now we have heard of the globalization of the economy with goods moving across borders free of tariffs and taxes but it would now look that we are beginning to see the stirrings of a phenomenon where citizenship becomes a relative concept and people cross borders and boundaries at will.

From an Indian perspective, there are several interesting points. A Japanese Political Party is prepared to welcome into their fold and offer a Parliamentary seat to some one who is not exactly a political elder statesman but is actually in disgrace and under house arrest n a third country. Fujimori said he had accepted the request to run for the People’s New Party in the upper house elections in a talk with party chief Shizuka Kamei. The Party seems to feel that even such a man has some thing to offer to the country and they are happy to use the fact that Fujimori is of Japanese origins and holds a dual Japanese citizenship to put to good use.

Sonia Gandhi by any yardstick has always had a more sober public profile than Alberto Fujimori who has an array of charges lined up against him in Peru apart from the one for which he is already under arrest in Chile. Yet he is able to sit and dream of returning as President in Peru and sitting as a Parliamentarian in Japan. Now I am no Congress man or any thing but I am just wondering at the irony of Sonia Gandhi. Here is a lady who has basically lived in India all her life since she got married, has certainly conducted herself with dignity and certainly has a more acceptable public profile than Fujimori and yet finds her political life impeded at every step. Borderless politics has arrived in the world where you can contest for the Presidency in one country and sit in the Parliament of another. May be we in India need to start adopting it in small doses by to begin with getting rid of the xenophobia that we have inherited.

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