Do We Have Feudal Idolatrous Democracy?
On hearing of resignation by David Cameron, the youngish British Prime Minister, just because the EU Referendum was lost by “Remains’ who were backed by him as well, one MP from Bihar sitting in the Central Hall uttered a single word “Burbak”, a Bihari slang for a fool.
Well he was right. There is no culture of a politician in India resigning even if he is caught red-handed. Narasimha Rao never considered resigning after six MPs were proved to have taken money to ensure that the no-confidence motion against him failed.
The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn did what Indian politicians do, stuck to his chair as if glued to it, despite a no-confidence motion against him. But he has been ridiculed by public and the media so much that he is already a lame-duck.
During Question hour Cameron shouted at Corbyn, Go man, go for God’s sake. Such demands here hardly move our politicians, especially in states.
Even precedents don’t matter. Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned after a major train accident. Since then there have been many major mishaps but no minister has offered to step down.
The reason Cameron gave for his decision to resign was that he would not be the right person to oversee the changeover so he would resign by September. But due to the behaviour of ‘Indian Style’ of a Tory senior, the party was so shaken that successor to Cameron was elected unopposed much before September.
So Cameron decided to prepone his exit. Our politicians must be laughing away at his foolhardiness. He seems to be so anxious to give up, apart from perks and privileges of a prime minister but also the power and honour the position carries.
I can almost hear our politicians laughing at his ‘silly’ principles. Once an MLA from Bhojpur, on hearing that Tony Blair had resigned and left 10 Downing Street said, “Gora log kya gadhen hoten hain. Ek andolan yahan hua aur India se bhaag gaye aur ab Tony ne resign kar diya kyonki media aur kuch log Iraq war mein America ke kahne par join kiya. Yahan dekhiye apne mukhya mantri par chara gotala per court ne unko saza suna diya hain, magar unhon ne resign nahin kiya. Ab appeal ker rahen hain. Cameron sahib humko thode se khiske lagte hain.” He had not seen Cameron carrying a big package out of 10, Downing Street and loading it on a Removal Van. He would have advised that Cameron should be sent to a mental asylum.
Our ex-prime ministers are entitled to SPG protection for 10 years, a bungalow with sprawling lawns, a secretariat and several other privileges. But one feels pity for retiring prime ministers in Britain. I saw Tony Blair driven in a Jaguar to submit his resignation (silly thing to do, is the consensus in our political leaders) to the Queen.
On his return to 10, Downing Street, a Jaguar drove him and his family to a Railway Station. Next one saw him, wife Cherie and children standing all by themselves. No security, no chamchas and no Station Master. Prime Minister Tony Blair had become plain Mr Tony Blair, a commoner. Contrast this with our prime ministers.
Even MPs get free accommodation, free travel for him and his spouse and enjoy living in comfort through almost everything subsidised. They could, for example, hire an AC for rs 40 per month.
In the UK, MPs do not get any accommodation. They can take a flat on lease if their house is more than 25 miles from London.
Can we imagine any of our former prime ministers cycling. One day, I saw Noma Major, when John Major was prime minister, shopping in Sainsbury’s on Victoria Street. It is about two or three furlongs from Downing Street.
There was no security, no one to carry her bags. Gursharan Kaur cannot move without a security unit and some media persons following her.
In any case our society is divided between the privileged, VIP class and the proletariats, there can never be equality. And equality is one of the basic tenets of democracy.
The sum conclusion is that while in the UK, there is unadulterated Democracy, in India we are not a democracy but a feudal idolatrous imitation of Westminster.
And we will remain so until our VIPs and not so VIPs come down from their exalted lofty statures and blend with the proletariat. They don’t have to mix with the ‘commoner’ but must not have stiff upper lip and condescending attitude when meeting someone in non-VIP category.
I will conclude with what actually happened in Washington some time ago. An Indian MP, erudite and sharp-tongued, who retired recently, was incensed when hotel receptionist and bartenders addressed him by his first name—something common in the west.
But not so in India given our feudal heritage.
by Vijay Dutt