By Santosh Bhartiya
As the time goes by and the gap between the present time and the time India got Independence widens, it seems that people from older generation were like god. However, at the same time there is a mad rush amongst new generation to denigrate those god-like people. Politicians from previous generation not only maintained decency during election campaign, but also held their opponents in high esteem; even at chanced encounters they did not forget the etiquette of greeting each other. However, degeneration of these values is increasingly becoming evident. If in the future someone ventures into chronicling today’s events, he will find that those who were considered villain earlier are considered hero today. Election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa are in full swing but the style of campaign in Uttar Pradesh is telling and worrisome.
I will narrate an event related to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Pandit Nehru was contesting election against Prabhudutt Brahmchari. During campaign trail whenever they chanced upon meeting each other, they never forget to greet each other saying namaste, and a few moment later at their respective public meetings they fire political salvo at each other, neither side had personal grudge against one another. Prabhudutt has written in his memoire: “I was going somewhere and Panditji’s convoy had halted at a place. Out of curiosity and to see what Panditji was doing, I also stopped there. No sooner did Panditji found that I was there, than he sent for me and insisted me to dine with him.” Prabhudutt maintained that “I found Panditji was taking bread and lentil separately, taking a piece of chapatti and then a sip of lentil.” It appeared strange to Prabhudutt. He thought that Pandit Nehru did not know how to eat? Upon enquiry Panditji said that he used to eat in this manner only. Then Prabhudutt told Nehru that eating bread dipped into lentil increase digestibility and taste good. Pandit Nehru did exactly the same and thereafter he changed his manner of eating. This incident explains how modest were the political opponents of that era? Prbhudutt Brahmachari’s response suggests that such things are not meant to take political mileage. He narrated this incident in his memoir.
Had that incident occurred today or had Jawaharlal Nehru contested elections today, Prabhudutt would have presented this incident as ignorance of Jawaharlal Nehru vis-à-vis Indian culture. He would have made a point to spread the news that Nehru did not know how to take lentils with bread? How a candidate like this would represent you? I am saying this because this exactly is what happening today. If Priyanka Gandhi wish to campaign for her party or if her name comes up as campaigner by her party, then what the veteran BJP leaders are upset about? Why Vinay Katiyar thinks that she might dent in his vote base? Kathiyar casted an extremely low aspersion on Priyanka Gandhi by saying his party has more beautiful women than Priyanka Gandhi, and they could field them in the election campaign. He went ahead of commenting on the beauty of another the BJP leader, perhaps on Smriti Irani.
The glorified approbation of leaders with criminal antecedents in Uttar Pradesh election is another matter that is of grave concern. Mayawati ji in her recent press conference became an apologist for Ansari brothers – Mukhtar Ansari and Afzal Ansari – outlining as to how virtuous or justified their entry into politics is? She maintained that Ansari brothers believed that the cases registered against them were registered in order to settle political scores. Her demeanor while saying this was such that as if she approved the claim of the brothers. Apart from them, Mayawati ji named few others including D.P. Yadav, Brajesh Pathak, Raja Bhaiya, etc., and said they are all criminals. Unless they apologize publically, they won’t be inducted in the BSP ranks and files. From her statement it could be infer that if leaders with criminal antecedent refute the allegations leveled against them publically in press conference, then she would not hesitate in making them the BSP candidate in assembly election.
During the last Assembly elections, Akhilesh Yadav had said something that has some significance for today as well. He, against his father will, took a stand against D.P. Yadav and prevented him from joining his party. This gave him an image of a young leader who uncompromising on criminalization of politics and who would not allow people of criminal background to enter politics. This year also, he prevented Mukhtar Ansari, Afzaal Ansari and Atiq Ahmed from entering into his party. Despite these bright spots Akhilesh Yadav fielded many faces with criminal background proving that his is not different than other political parties. Though his style of campaign is different from the present lot and he has not crossed the line of decency, but is that enough. Our concern is not about the language of a particular candidate; our concern is about the overall format of campaign and language, as it leaves bad impression on the ground-level workers.
One thing that is prominently conspicuous in these elections is that getting ticket for ground-level party functionary has become virtually impossible. Nepotism has become such a dominant force in politics that family members of a leader – wife, son or nephew – seek ticket in way as if getting ticket is their birth right. Why my son, wife, brother, or daughter will not become my successor? Such claims have become so prominent that the question of dynastic politics has become redundant. Family members of Mulayam Singh ji are in the fray – some of them already are in the Lok Sabha, remaining aspiring to go to the legislative assembly. There is no such thing as dynastic politics in Mayawati’s BSP, because her brother Anand who could have claim her legacy is not in the fray. Perhaps he might be eyeing a Rajya Sabha seat in coming days. Congress exemplifies dynastic politics and now the Bharatiya Janata Party is fast taking the congress’s track.
Perhaps, the BJP’s delaying ticket to Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh was a deliberate act to humiliate them. Probably sensing the anger Rajnath ji, BJP not only gave tickets to his son, but also to his son’s father in law. The list of such MPs is long whose sons, wife, daughters and daughters-in-law are contesting elections. They stand as their heir apparent with the hope that these people will carry forward their legacy in politics.
Now there is no need to bemoaning the era of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Deen Dayal Upadhyay or Atal Bihar Vajapayee. One should forget about the tradition associated with them and prepare oneself to accept that we are surging forward towards: a democratic structure wherein, within the next five or ten years, there will be only 100 or 200 families whose offspring will run the affairs of the country’s power, be it through legislative assemblies or Lok Sabha.
Pakistan leads the race in this matter. In Pakistan there are about 150 families who have monopolized politics and acquired all power the state bestowed upon the people. In elections – be it provincial assemblies or the national assembly – members of these families get elected. Perhaps we are also moving in the same direction. We are, gradually, becoming a democratic system, which is similar to that of Pakistan’s. It is for the people of the country to reflect that is it the democracy that the framers of constitution envisaged, is it the system what Gandhiji envisioned or is it the system that all the people who sacrificed their lives and who went to jail for the freedom of the country dreamt of? If it did not, then why do we demean and kill the dreams of the martyrs and freedom fighters?
The voters of this country need to ponder over the fact that whether the nature of democracy that is coming to the fore is justifiable, morally acceptable, in accordance with the Constitution or in consonance with the aspirations of the framers of the Constitution? Or by setting them all aside we are laying foundation of an anti-democratic and a criminal feudal system in the name of democracy? It is important to say because if there is wisdom, understanding or faith in democracy, then those who are involved in it may take appropriate steps.
By Santosh Bhartiya