‘Rashtranirman’ vs ‘Bijli, Pani, Sadak’: Election of contrasts

tarushikha

Tarushikha Sarvesh | February 12, 2015



The RSS’s vision of Rashtranirman happens to be hazed, for the time being, by the simple and more conventional issues of bijli pani and sadak. The Delhi assembly election could be seen as an election replete with contrasts. The biggest contrast came out as the one between a grand, distant vision and more tactile issues. This Delhi election tells a contrasting narrative of desires and expectations. The desires and expectations on the ground turned out to be at variance with the imposed dreams from above by the leadership – be it of cultural nationalism or of smart, world-class cities.

This election could be a lesson for the conventional politicians that there has to be a connection between the dreams, needs of citizens and those of the apparent leaders. In fact, it would be more apt to say that there has to be communication between one citizen with needs and another citizen with power and resources in place of a one way communication flowing from the leaders with futile promises and laws to the empty handed citizens. Mahatma Gandhi talked about the idea of trusteeship. The people with resources would keep some resources in the name of the weaker sections and spend those resources on their behalf for their comforts and requirements till the time the weaker section gets fully aware of its rights and claims. From this thought we get another contrast in this election – a contrast between the trustees of trust of the common man and the trustees of trust of solely the corporate companies.

The other contrast that comes forth is the 'hawa' or wave syndrome against the 'ground work' of the volunteers done by the winning party. It seems 'hawa' could not blow away the groundwork of the volunteers. The other contrast is of the idea of the image of a worker – RSS male workers vs combined force of male and female volunteers working on the ground at any time of the day. Whose reach will be better? These small issues are no small wonders but directly reflect the ideology and understanding of the people's 'mann ki baat'. This gives us another contrast: the leader's mann ki baat Vs people's mann ki baat. In volunteers’ own words of the winning party, they joined it because they were interested in its simple and clean ideology and the humility of the leadership. This brings to another contrast – one-man army pitted against the vision of aam admi army. The Delhi elections appear to be a bundle of contrasts. Even if Aam Aadmi Party had not won, these contrasts would still be making sense and worth looking at for any political party as well as for the citizenry if there has to be an inclusive and just vision for the nation.

When we are counting the contrasts thrown up by the Delhi election how can we not analyse the self-contradictory vision of rashtranirman? The vision of rashtranirman gives an impression that rashtrnirman is contradictory to people's development. How can there be rahstranirman without addressing the citizenship issues and rights of the citizens that form the 'rashtra'. The idea of citizens as functional participants happens to be far from its actualisation in such visions of rashtranirman.

The politics of homecoming and smart city of falling flyovers clearly brings forth the self-contradictory vision of rashtranirman. Whose home and who needs a homecoming and from where? Such futile issues might be contributing to the making of a smart city but in no way work towards the making of smart citizens. May be the calculation of conventional political parties told them that it is good not to make people smart. After all, the country’s laws are used by such political parties to get people arrested when smart questioning begins. You get penalised for voicing your concerns and questions even on social networking sites. It is something like you don't get proper service and when you complain to the company, instead of the service you get billed for your complaints.

Well I got reminded of this because it actually happened with me recently when I told the company that not giving the promised services is an outright consumer rights violation. When this incident happened with me, the first thought that popped up was about how people get arrested and beaten up on asking for the fulfillment of the promises by the state representatives. I felt the company that billed me for complaining was inspired by certain political parties. When this is the scenario that you get jailed for claiming your rights and you get billed for complaining, can there ever be a dialogic conversation between the citizens and their trustees? This presents before us another contrast of the recent Delhi elections – the ‘command’ versus ‘dialogue’ contrast. There are broadly two types of conversational styles – hard style and soft style. Hard style is said to involve “certainty, closure and control”. In contrast to the hard style of conversations, the soft style of “dialogic listening” calls for “modesty, humility, trust and a robust recognition of the other party as a choice maker”, as explained by John Stewart and Milt Thomas in their work on Dialogic Listening. It is said that “dialogic listening” ameliorates the power differences. The recent Delhi elections gave a glimpse of these contrasting conversational styles.

Finally one can say that the Delhi elections reveal how the spaces of experiences till date have been too cramped and how the horizons of expectations are expanding.
 

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