Despite people suffering hardships of all kinds, for generations, surprisingly these very political parties have been quite successful in ensuring that people keep voting for them for the same promises made repeatedly in the past, but never fulfilled, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey
In our country, various political parties have been spouting rhetoric for decades. Their professed ideologies are clearly driven by selfish and myopic political considerations and are a means to enable the ruling dispensation to achieve the narrow end of retaining power, at any cost. Broader national interests are always the casualty in the agenda of all the political parties of every hue, be it left or right or centre. To further their self interest, they even went to the extreme of depriving the people of their fundamental rights and imposed emergency. To gain power, almost every party is willing to divide people on caste lines. The others went further and played the religion card to grab power. All this was done under the garb of uplifting the people and giving them freedom from centuries of oppression by “others”. All these political parties succeeded from time to time, in winning elections and gaining power. They had the mandate and the power to solve myriad problems that the people had been suffering for decades. But nothing of that sort was done by way of achievements- instead the country is mired in basic problems like all pervasive poverty, discrimination, injustices, lack of basic amenities like health, education, sanitation, drinking water and various other essential shortages.
Despite people suffering hardships of all kinds, for generations, surprisingly these very political parties have been quite successful in ensuring that people keep voting for them for the same promises made repeatedly in the past, but never fulfilled. This clearly shows the complete lack of integrity of our political class which it seems has entered into an unholy alliance to keep the people in the dark about the game of musical chairs that they play and the unspoken agreement that “I will not harm/punish you, you also will not harm/punish me when you come to power.” This unholy unwritten alliance can be seen in operation, on a daily basis. During election time, tall promises are made by every political party that all those in the ruling dispensation, who are involved in corruption, will be in jail within weeks of those in opposition getting elected. The people wait interminably- for months and then years- for the corrupt rulers to go to jail for the misdeeds committed during their halcyon days, only to be bitterly disappointed. The scamsters are expert gymnasts -they switch sides, befriend the new rulers and live happily thereafter-evading the clutches of the law enforcement agencies forever.
This is the narrative of every state government and of our national government too. It is an election year once again with several states going to polls early next year. Those in opposition have started counting the scandals that have taken place during the current regime and avowing publicly- the same old promise of sending to jail all those involved in these scandals. The time has come for people to question these political parties, who ruled these states with full majority governments, to account for their broken pledges and complicit inaction. Who is going to act against unabated corruption and illegal wealth exceeding thousands of crores of rupees accumulated by unethical politicians through misuse of power?
The unfortunate part of our political culture is that every one is busy proving that the other one is more corrupt than them. Whenever any news of corruption erupts, the public discourse , rather than focusing on those responsible for the loot of public money, turns it into an exercise to prove that those making accusations are more corrupt- which is unfortunately always true barring a few exceptions. In the bargain the public is left confused and helpless and knowingly or unknowingly starts taking sides based on caste or religion or other irrelevant considerations- leaving the episode of corruption on the back burner. Since corruption has gone on unabated for decades in our country and the corrupt are moving scot free, there is a deep rooted belief in our country that one can do anything and get away with it . People will watch helplessly scandals after scandals unfolding before them , still not knowing what to do except suffer the resultant misery and helplessness.
For our country to move ahead and millions suffering the scourge of poverty , injustice, inequity, differential treatment have to be provided with a dignified life free from poverty and hunger , then citizens can not keep their eyes shut to what their chosen political leaders have been up to all these years. All the political parties and politicians at every level need to be asked a simple question -Where did you get crores of rupees to fund you elections? From where could you amass the billions of rupees which enables the party ,you belong to , to spend crores of rupees on hundreds of rallies attended by lacs of people? From where are billions given to chosen candidates at the time of elections, who spend crores to bribe the voters in every election? How every politician , worth his name , started living a life of billionaire when politics was their only profession ?
None will answer because all the billions spent in politics are ill gotten wealth looted from the public exchequer and extracted from industrialists, businesses and common people . This proves costly for the common people and they are extorted exorbitantly – by way of paying bribes , inflation, poverty , poor civic amenities like health , education etc. When will we clean this tainted ecosystem? when will our politics be worthy of credit rating ? Is there any Mission to restore probity and eliminate noxious virulent- communalism, casteism, poverty and corruption which are afflicting our body politic and polluting governance completely? As long as politics continues to be dirty, as long as muckraking justifies the scams of all in governance-your scam is bigger than mine, if you expose me I will strip you too-syndrome continues ,our politics will continue to be abysmal .The rise of leaders ,with apprenticeships in integrity is awaited. .India cannot be governed by politicians who are flouting the Rule of Law with impunity. Moral dimensions have to be made to define governance. This will be possible only when we, the people, elect transformational leaders. Their ennobling vision and courageous action will eradicate the unbridgeable chasm that has remained so far between promises and Action. The time has come to overturn the apple cart of this corrupt political system and bring back probity in politics. It is now or never.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary to Government of India)