In Maharashtra, on grand display were the murky and vicious politics. The allegations and counters of “Great Betrayal” and “Backstabbing”, sans ideologies, indulged in by modern India’s so called decrepit leaders in pursuit of power, perks, privileges, status and wealth could even make the Kauravas of Mahabharata epic wherever their souls are resting, totally amazed and aghast.
In the name of democracy, elected representatives have enacted the most disgusting political theatrics beamed the grand display of treachery, intrigue and corruption of the most despicable order straight into the drawing rooms and the mobile phones.
In the past, people saw the “Karnataka Nataka” – Act 1 and 2. Yet to unfold are the other “Acts” after the bye-election results are announced later in the next week. Also, what is likely to follow in Jharkand after the election results.
Add to it, the Mamata Banerjee-Governor confrontation what with the Governor denied the entry to West Bengal Assembly premises through the VIP Gate of entry as per protocol.
The only way one may like to justify such a crass behavior of elected representatives masquerading as leaders is that we are living in the “Kaliyug Age” in politics.
Of course, political leaders and parties have mastered the “art and science” of manipulating voters sentiments and emotions to win elections by promising the “Moon” to them. Those wielding power give eloquent sermons on the urgent need for electoral reforms to cleanse the system. When the time for action comes, they retract under pressure from the compulsions of electoral politics. Ipso facto, Indian voters are too emotional, too irrational, too parochial and too gullible.
The key issue that needs to be addressed is simple: “Is India Sinking into political Abyss or quicksand or quagmire in the name of democracy”? “Save Democracy”, an oft-invoked slogan is the worst farce. If one wants to “Save Democracy in its mutilated form”, it is only possible through revolutionary changes; but not cosmetic reforms or refinements through amendments.
In February 2000, 50-years after the Constitution was adopted, the NDA Alliance of 22 parties, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that a national commission, headed by former chief justice M.N. Venkatachelliah was being set up to review the working of the Constitution to “examine in the light of the experience of the last 50 years as to how best the Constitution can respond to the changing needs of an efficient, smooth and effective system ... within the framework of parliamentary democracy and without interfering with its (the Constitution’s) basic structures and features”. Ironic but true, that the Commission never saw the light of the day.
Let me recount statements of eminent personalities on the need to change. As per Bhagavad Geeta, “Change is the only constant thing.” George Bernard Shaw stated: “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” John Maxwell highlighted that “Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” To the credit of John F. Kennedy goes, “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.”
Despite profound wisdom of eminent personalities on the need for change, yet status quo persists with monotonous obduracy. Why? The answer is simple. Democracy in its mutilated and messy form suits the interests of the kleptocrats.
Let me also at the outset recount the prophetic lamentation of eminent personalities like Winston Churchill, M K Gandhi and Justice V R Krishna Iyer.
Winston Churchill in his address to the British Parliament during the debate on granting independence to India in 1946 stated: “Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed in India.”
An observer of recent events in Maharashtra voiced his anguish: “Incredibly we’ve worked very hard to prove” Churchill right. How true is his anguish!
Most appropriate it is to recall M K Gandhi’s lamentation in his message to the Nation on 26 January 1948: “This day, Jan 26, is Independence Day. This observance was quite appropriate when we were fighting for Independence we had not seen or handled. Now, we have handled it and we seem to be disillusioned. At least, I am, even if you are not. What are we celebrating today? Surely, not our disillusionment.”
Had M K Gandhi been living today, surely he would have undertaken a “Fast unto Death” at the door steps of the Parliament. If disallowed, he would have done it at “Jantar Mantar” to throw out all the “dynasts” or “rascals and rogues” masquerading as democrats living in fortresses, surrounded by gunmen, fleets of escort cars and leading extravagant “Royal” lifestyles at the ‘tax-payers costs”.
Most scathing indictment was delivered by former Justice V R Krishna Iyer in ‘The Hindu’ (21 January 1993): “Politics, with focus on power and the polls, can never solve a problem embroiled on acrimony and soaked in blood. Parliament, currently a functioning anarchy, and the Cabinet, a fragmented collectivity are instrumentalities whose credibility and competence are at low ebb and the country is itself disintegrating. In this grave hour, if there is some hope, not that there is much hope, it is from the Court”. Had he been alive, he too would have criticized the judicial ways of today.
Undeniably, “public service and virtue” is the least concern of political leaders and parties today. “I-Me-Myself-My Progeny” is their sole pursuit. Their ways and means are “Loot and Scoot” in pursuit of power by hook or crook: “Make Hay while the Sun shines”. Least interested they are in national interests and society. It is the only way to explain the most farcical drama played out in Delhi and Maharashtra.
How much profligacy and at what costs in keeping respective “MLA Flocks” in high-fly hotels and resorts and who will pay for them? The EC must ask all the political parties to submit their accounts and indicate sources of funds. Of course, political parties and leaders will reimburse expenditures at the “tax payers” costs.
On reflection, in the name of democracy, India has experienced many varieties of political orders starting with “Feudolocracy” in 1950s. Prof. Gunnar Myrdal in his book published in 1968 “Asian Drama: An Enquiry into the Poverty of Nations” termed it “Functional Anarchy”. Followed from 1975 to 1977, Indira Gandhi’s emergency or dictatorship. By 1980s, criminalization of politics – money and muscle power – became rampant. One may term it as “Goondacracy” – rule of the criminals, by the criminals and for the criminals. Followed the foisting of “Dynastocracy” not only in Delhi but spread like a virus to the States and even to Panchayat.
No wonder, feudalist-cum-fascist factionists, murderers, rapists, dons, smugglers, extortionists, land grabbers, IT defaulters, etc., are masquerading as leaders of repute in almost all states. The likes of P Chidambaram and his son Karti, Shahbuddin and Anant Singh are in every political party across every state. Only, their shades may differ. What about the nexus of few elected representatives, with international ‘Don’s’ or militants. They may not have PhDs, but they are emeritus’s of treachery, intrigue, violence and corruption.
Over the past 70 years, democracy stands defaced, distorted, raped and mutilated beyond its original conception. Yet, many pseudo intellectuals and panellists oft-invoke terms like “largest democracy” and “most vibrant democracy” to fool the gullible people.
Let me reiterate that “Democracy has been hijacked by Kleptocracy that is rule of the few, by the few and for the few”. Going by the Association of Democratic Reports, majority of criminals are today elected representatives in the Parliament and State Assemblies.
What is “Kleptocracy“? It is “a government by those who are strong enough to seize control through the threat or use of force, coercive power, social persuasion, manipulation or deceptive cunning” or “government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed”.
In practice, democracy is a system of competing and elected elites – dynasts at all levels. Politicians are elected by means of a competitive struggle (fair or foul means; money or muscle power) for votes. In reality, it is a ‘rich man’s game and “Yatha Praja; Thata Raja (Like the Voter; so the Ruler)”, selfish and greedy, syndrome prevails. Unless one is a “Crorepathi”, one cannot even contest in Sarpanch elections in the neighborhood of mega cities, what to talk of contesting in MP and MLA elections. Having spent large sums of money, what can one expect from elected representatives except to multiply returns over investments for the next round of elections! .
Many decades ago Schumpeter, political scientist emeritus, considered that “even in democracy, people do not govern. Those who rule are the politicians – they raise issues and decide them determining people’s lives.”
As per Macpherson, democracy works best when elected leadership has a free hand: “Where the rational citizen seems to abdicate, nevertheless angles seem to tread”. As per Rousseau, factually the people are everywhere in chains. Realize we must, that the relationship between democracy and sovereignty too is contestable and contradictory.
What one observes daily is leadership sole aim to garner prime space s to make headlines as the champions of the downtrodden on TV, mobile phones and social media networks. None of them believe in politics of decency – statesmanship. Spurned by the media, they hurl abuses at each other in daily media briefings besides making allegations and counter allegations. Ipso facto, the media is providing the fuel to light the fire.
The recent trends are quite depressing for a common man. Repression is the name of the game played on a ‘no holds barred approach’. Both the ruling party and the opposition parties are responsible for the spread of viciousness in the society. If the ruling party justifies repression in the name of maintaining law and order, the opposition justifies their onslaught to create paralysis or chaotic conditions of the State in the name of representing the democratic aspirations of the Society.
None is concerned about its fallout on development and national security interests in a long term context. They fail to realize that such negative tactics are bound to bounce back on them on the rebound. They need to realize its fallout - chain-cycle reaction at various levels. If people are indulging in physical assaults and increasing violence on the streets, they are not to be blamed. After all, they are only replicating what their leaders do in the parliament and legislatures.
A word of caution to those few claiming to be paragons of political virtue and making sermons on cleansing the system of rogue elements. Time is running out to cleanse the system. Coaxed and provoked by leaders in opposition and intellectuals suffering from deprivation psyche syndrome due to what they consider unfair means, people are taking to streets and indulging in hooliganism against the Society and the forces representing the State? In sum, paralysis of the State and the Society on every single issue may be real in posterity.
The more I reflect the more I am convinced that it is unfair to expect angels to emerge out of scoundrels when reviewed in the context of the oft quoted political maxim “politics is the last resort of a scoundrel”. Power affliction is contagious for it paves the way for wealth and status in today’s context. Today, majority do not enter politics out of sense of duty to the society and the nation. And, the few visionary leaders in making by exception are usually swept aside by the majority of leaders inflicted with “I-Me-Myself” obsession.
To sum up, the rape of democracy is real. Its hijacking or murder by fascist forces is a horror prospect. No longer, the Society can shirk responsibility by adopting “the legendary ostrich position’. Earlier “We the People” realize that democracy is least suited to large and pluralist societies like India and throw it out of the front door better the chances of survival of modern India in its present form and shape. Of course, socialism, the second tenet enshrined in the Constitution, has been discarded in early 1990s. And, “secularism” is the most abused term in vogue.
Thus, the vital imperative is to usher the “Second Republic” catering to the chemistry of the nation. Of course, it would be resisted “tooth and nail’ by all political parties and leaders in the name of democracy. Therefore, the onerous task to overcome the challenge rests squarely on “We the People” of India.