Learnings for Politicians

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Sudip Bhattacharyya | February 10, 2014



The Newshour Debate on NDTV on January 15 was an exception: perhaps the first time, not one but two participants clearly and comprehensibly laid bare the hypocrisy of almost all the political parties in India espousing the so called secularism. They are Sahid Siddique and Zafar Sureshwala.

It is also very befitting that the two are Muslims. Because, it is only them, the minorities, perceived to be the beneficiaries, can really see through this selfish and amoral political game. Between them, they affirmed that the Muslims do not really benefit from this vote-bank politics and the system is not working for them. They really want two things: development and opportunities. Further, they don't want or expect the political parties and government to do anything in the name of Islam. It was also said that when it is Amitabh Bachchan, he is accepted as a celebrity and Indian but in case of Salman Khan, he is perceived only as a Muslim.

They even criticised the Cap politics and said many including Rajiv Gandhi did indulge in it. The duo saw this present juncture as a historic point in time engendering an impetus towards realignment in social politics. It also provides an opportunity to get rid of the 3Cs – communalism, casteism, and criminalization and the creation of fear psychosis in one group for the other (that the Hindus are a threat to the Muslim or the Muslims are a threat to the Hindus, and playing on this fear psychosis that has been a staple food and something country must be got rid of).

This view, I think, the whole nation echoes. But will the politicians learn?

On January 17, Rahul Gandhi spoke to Congressmen inviting them to prepare for the impending national election. It is the best speech that he made in a very long time and his admirers say it would revitalize the cadres. But is motivating the cadres enough to win the election? Let us try to analyse what he told the audience:

Congress party is not only an organisation but an idea, a thought in the party members' hearts. It does not indulge in communalism and wants inclusive growth. It is 125 years old and the only government to have delivered these remarkable benefits (enumerated serially hereafter) to the nation: Bank nationalization and highest growth rate for the economy; RTI to strengthen people’s power and participation in the democratic process; NREGA to provide employment to the rural poor; Introduction of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies); Lokpal to eradicate corruption; Aadhaar card for directly subsidizing the poor, both rural and urban.

He also called for a 50 percent participation by women in legislature and an increase in the subsidised gas allocation from nine to 12.

All these claims are generally factual and the projected programs are right things to do. But there is a bit of sleight of hand in the claims. Firstly, it all happened over a span of about 60 years.

Secondly, with aging of nations, globalisation of society and economy, and march of technology concomitantly increasing awareness, aspirations, desire and expression through social media, of and by people, these are perhaps the least possible and inevitable.

Finally, the game played by the government in scuttling the Lokpal bill until the last moment is too well known. Further, with its baggage of anti-Sikh riot, it has no credibility on secularism. So overall Rahul’s claim and plea is unlikely to cut ice with the voters.

This too, I think, the nation will echo.

Press and activists are rightly agitated over Delhi Law Minister's highhandedness in dealing with local police. While there could be justified complaints against police, the minister can't under any circumstances, issue instructions ultravires law. Not that such violation is unprecedented. All are aware of such happenings in Haryana and UP and there have been innumerable such examples elsewhere in the country which rarely got noticed.

The norm and principle here is that ministers have no right to interfere in administration. Further, while they are to take policy decisions, they are never to take part in executing or implementing the decision. The nation echoes.

Will the politicians learn?

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