By Prof. Narendra Nayak
Mangalore, April 18, 2013: Last week I had the occasion to meet a politician who is a sitting MLA and is seeking re-election for the fifth term. He expressed his disgust at the state of politics and the role money was playing in the election process. He was literally shedding tears as he claimed that he had to sell his property to finance this election! When I asked him as to why he was contesting despite all these problems he said that he had already announced his retirement from active politics but had to contest as he had been ordered to do so by the ‘high command’. That set me thinking about the mindset of our politicians and their hypocrisy! When the election times come around this trait of political class crosses all limits whether they be those set by the Election Commission or by the so called norms of the society. That is because of the attitude of the society in general and those of the ruling class in particular, where we see that the laws of the land are flouted with impunity by those who are supposed to make them, implement them.
This seems to be universal phenomenon when we look at the attitudes of those in power. We have the sterling examples of those when not in power becoming the champions of freedom of expression and once they come into the seat of power speaking about conspiracies. One typical example is that the elder sister of West Bengal who had rose to power two years ago banking on the opposition to the tyranny of the ‘dictatorial’ attitudes of the left front govt. which had been in power continuously for a long, long time that a generation had come to equate the party with the state! Once she attained the seat of power she started seeing conspirators everywhere.
This has come to such an extent that she had dismissed the death of a student activist in police custody as a small thing! Well that seems to be the standard set in this state where there was a demonstration by Muslim organizations last week against what was called as an attack on Islam! Pray what was this attack on Islam? The trials of murderers and rapists, who had committed these crimes against innocent citizens during the Bangladesh war of liberation, which took place several decades ago. Such things are to be expected from fanatics of this sort. What is strange is the silence of all political parties on this issue! Anything of this kind if perpetrated by any other group would have been objected to by all the ruling parties under the guise of good relationships with foreign govts and such. But in this case it was the vote bank politics that ensured this silence of all!
We could quote innumerable such examples but nearer home, since the elections are coming around it would be more appropriate for us to take a look at the prevailing situation in Karnataka, particularly since we are going to vote soon to elect our new representatives for the next five years. The ruling party -the Bharatiya Janatha Party- the party with a difference during its power has seen to it that the levels of corruption reached newer heights in our state putting to shame all the previous regimens besides leading the society to new depths particularly in the coastal districts where their minions acted as if they were the moral police, jury and judge all rolled into one with the police and the administration looking on and providing support when needed and protecting the perpetrators from any retribution by law or the public.
Having suffered defeats in the urban local body elections and with the votes split between them and the newly formed regional parties of their ex blue eyed boy Yaddyurappa and the mining scam Reddys, the party with a difference is now struggling to be different! The party with its back ground of Hindutva and the so called highly principled cadres of the Sangh Parivar has to answer to the people about the caliber of their so called leadership. Pray what is the leadership? The leader of innumerable scams the one and only mastermind Yaddyurappa who brought them to power installing the first BJP government, south of the Vindhyas! The mining scam tainted Reddys who are now under custody for having amassed thousands of crores by indiscriminate mining and illegal exports.
How about the high moral grounds and the ‘integrity’ of the leadership? One of the ministers caught red handed raping his friend’s wife? Another one whose photographs of him behaving obscenely with a nurse have been in the newspapers? The trio who were watching pornography in the assembly? However the top position goes to the man from Udupi the temple town! The story of the MLA from Udupi is the one which would make a Bollywood pot boiler and would deserve a separate analysis to show us the ‘moral’ high grounds of the party with a difference.
Having hit the headlines a couple of years ago with the disappearance of his wife and her ‘suicide’ in Delhi, the scandal tainted representative of the party which stands on high moral grounds, sponsored rave parties on St.Mary’s island nearby under the guise of ‘promoting’ tourism and such. The latest in this was a CD which showed the same man in a compromising with a woman which was released just when the elections were announced. This made him announce that to keep up the prestige of the party he would not contest the elections! Though this was announced by the candidate himself there was a ‘public protest’ by his supporters who said that he had been framed and they requested him not to bow down to such blackmail! But, the party did not oblige him with a ticket and hence the protest was of no avail!
But, the people have been sick and tired of these antics of this ‘party with a difference’. The only difference that has been shown is the hurry to make money when in power as has been shown by the behavior of their cadres who have brazenly attacked young people going together, disrupted parties under the guise of cultural purity and a thousand such things. One would wonder as to where these were when their own leaders were indulging in what could be called obscene, indecent behavior? It is time for the voters to show them their place and give them the message that the secular society does not need their hypocritical behavior. All their excuses that the bad ones have been weeded out are not acceptable as those who have been ‘weeded out’ were once the blue eyed boys! It was they who brought the party to power by means fair or foul (mostly the latter).
Well, it is for us the voters to decide as to how to counter these! In fact in the last elections to the legislative assembly the party which came to power had polled lesser percentage of votes than the one sitting in the opposition! One could become a representative of the people with say getting 30% of the votes in an election where the polling is say 60% which in effect means 18% of the voters supporting a candidate who is supposed to represent them. In such a system we have to exercise care to see that our votes are not wasted! Any way as the elections to the legislative assembly are around the corner happy voting to all those who are in Karnataka! Please do vote and see that it goes to the right candidate too!
Prof. Narendra Nayak is a consumer activist and a rationalist. This is a regular column and we invite readers’ response. The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org