General Elections: When Survival Instinct Overtakes Ideological Commitment
History, whenever written with objectivity, shall not pardon this party for communalizing Indian polity while deliberately blaming others for it. It has always trumpeted its ‘secular’ credentials but in practice, has followed brazenly a communal and minority-misleading agenda
Elections times are also the most transparent times to observe how politicians change colours without any hitch or hesitation. They do so just to cling to power and people know this. However, for public consumption, every leader changing sides cites some ideological grounds for the change of heart. Voters has also realise how fragile are the bonds of commitment to political ideologies which, sometimes, change within hours. In India, certain set of parties survive on the plank of secularism and denounce some of the parties opposed to them as communal. When these staunch ‘secularists’ suddenly see the light of the day and join their earlier bête noire, it does raise eyebrows amongst many! The new entrants find their new abode as the only party that is devoted to social cohesion and religious amity! They find their new political colleagues nationalist and truly secular. These are, in fact, the real smart guys in politics who have the skills to ascertain ‘which side of the bread is buttered’! For the uninitiated what more illustrative example could there be than the case of Jagdambika Pal, who was singing paeans in praise of the grand old self-styled secular political party of India for decades together, now finds grass greener on the other side which till the other day consisted only of ‘communal elements’. Interestingly, people remember how he was appointed Chief Minister of UP and; within hours; the appointment was declared illegal by the High Court. At a later date, the High Court turned down his request that he be declared a ‘former Chief Minister’ of the state. As a shrewd politician he knew that so many benefits flow to the ‘formers’ of the political class in this country. The yearning for power, pelf and perquisites amongst politicians has corrugated the entire edifice of democracy in India. There are no indications of any let up in this ever-increasing hunger of acquiring more and more for one’s own self and for the near and dear ones. The scams and scandals of the last ten years have shaken the faith of people in the political class of various hues. No one is willing to take responsibility for any wrong doing and they continue to proclaim themselves as the inheritors of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi? Many of them may never have bothered to read or recall the gem of wisdom that Gandhiji had given to one and all: nature has sufficient resources to meet the need of everyone but not the greed of anyone! The way they squandered national resources in allocations of 2-G, coal blocks, mining rights clearly indicates how the ‘last man in the line has been totally eclipsed by the greedy individuals who happen to acquire power’.
The period 2004-14 shall be remembered for the near total absence of accountability, transparency and real concern for the suffering masses amongst the political class in power. Doling out freebies only indicates bankruptcy of ideas and lack of vision. Last ten years have seen the erosion of moral, ethical and democratic values all around. Nation has suffered a Prime Minister who was always conscious of the fact that power centre is elsewhere. He remained aloof and ‘clean’ while people of India kept on counting the ever-increasing numbers of scams and scandals and the amounts usurped by those in power, duly assisted by the resourceful and powerful. The government remained in the saddle, supported from outside by the parties that survived on caste equations alone. All this happened under a ‘clean, quiet, decent and gentleman’ Prime Minister!
In such conditions, it is indeed too naïve to expect any adherence to moral or ethical standards during elections. Ministers of the union cabinet worked overtime in their offices to make appointments nominate their favourites on committees and grant another full five-year term to their favourite heads of national institutions. The ministers of the UPA-II not only unabashedly violated norms in the cases like those of coal blocks or the 2-G spectrum allocations; they did it practically everytime and in every sector. The manner in which a tainted person was appointed CVC and the subsequent quashing of it by the highest court says it all. It was a great reminder to mend their ways. No impact at all! Startling details have come to public domain after the Supreme Court of India recently stayed the appointments of members for the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Here again, the blatant arrogance of power is visible. The Supreme Court Bench noted that ‘there were no norms and guidelines in place for selecting such members who were being paid out of public funds’! No eligibility criterion, no advertisement, only recommendations from ministers, MPs and other functionaries! The manner in which Sheila Dixit and BL Joshi were appointed Governors hours before the Electoral Code of Conduct came in force could shame anyone who has still some memory of the values, norms and standards that were adhered to in public life by the freedom fighters of India under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The irony is that the Congress party of 2014 proclaims to be the inheritor of the party that was founded in 1885 and at its peak, became an umbrella movement supported by people and persons belonging to varied political ideologies but knitted together to achieve the target; the freedom of India! This legacy enjoins upon the Congress party the immense burden of responsibility to stick to democratic values when in power.
All it has achieved in the post-independence period is the trampling of every democratic value. It has resulted in erosion of values all around. Consequently, corruption in its present frightening magnitude was bound to flourish. The convoluted interpretation of secularism indulged in by the present-day Congress party has greatly damaged the sensitive bonds that sustain social cohesion and religious amity. History, whenever written with objectivity, shall not pardon this party for communalizing Indian polity while deliberately blaming others for it. It has always trumpeted its ‘secular’ credentials but in practice, has followed brazenly a communal and minority-misleading agenda. The manner it has treated the Muslim community of India has in fact prevented the growth and economic well being of the community. The rise of the caste-based politics and parties has been possible solely because the Congress party itself promoted communal and caste-oriented agenda. India needs politicians who practice what they preach. Is it too tall an order to expect post-2014 general elections?
By JS Rajput