Ostrich Syndrome!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

All in the Name of Democracy

All in the name of Democracy
The general elections in India are in their penultimate stages. In a week or so we will know for sure who will, or for that matter if anyone will, be forming the next government at the Centre. It’s important to know who comes to power but more important will be the scenes from this election campaign which will (and should) haunt us for times to come.
It all started with the election commission, the watch dog for democratic process in this country. It found itself in the middle of power strife, a contention not heard of in a democratic set up. Who was the real election commissioner? Who is more powerful? Which commissioner was loyal to which party? All, in the name of democracy.
The campaigning tone was set up by the vituperative narration of Varun Gandhi, the catch of 2009 Elections for the BJP. It was his hate speech which started the election campaign for the BJP and set the right mood within the ranks of the Sangh Parivar. The falling apart of the UPA with visible division of the “secular vote” in states like Bihar and UP was followed by the utter frustration on the part of likes of Mulayam Singh Yadav. In fact the Samajwadi Party chief was caught on camera actually assaulting an election official. What a good precedence for our young generation who is taught to believe in the democratic and non violent credentials of this country. Mayawati who at one time was poised to usher in an era of political freedom for the down trodden Dalits of this country was seen setting her own agenda. Her quest for the prime ministership was too strong than her commitment for the people which she probably represented the best. Although I feel that her claim to be the prime minister is as good as those of many.
Then there was a war of words between the Prime Minister and LK Advani on who is stronger (or rather weaker) than the other. Advani left no stone unturned in saying what he did against the chair of the Prime Minister. Man Mohan Singh had no option but to go on an all out offensive, putting on a facade which did not suite him. In fact it was distressing to see him speak as he did. It all unfolded nakedly and shamefully right in front of our eyes, in the name of democracy. The rhetoric of Narender Modi, scornful as ever, was the icing on the cake. His chauvinism for gender, caste, religion and region (and even toys!) was on full public display, in the name of democracy. Rahul and Sonia Gandhi travelled through the length and breadth of this country. They had Khandar and the December Parliament attacks to offer, besides promises which were no different from those made in 2004. The left was hobbling with the ghost of Nandigram; it’s a different issue that the police had to kill few more people to cleanse the place for fair and free elections, all in the name of democracy. In the name of democracy the veins of Indian social fabric were ripped apart and the nation left to bleed. The wounds given in the process were deep and painful. The nation was yet again made to mourn its dead and dying political morality.
The election campaign saw promises made, candidates killed, alliances broken, ally’s switch sides, left turning right and right going ultra right. All this, in the name of democracy. The real issues which bother millions of Indians were left grappling in the dark. No one talked of health, education and poverty. No one wanted to discuss development. There were no takers for issues like female feticide (female ratios in some states have dropped to 800:1000), women rights, farmer’s debt, child labor, crimes against Dalits, corruption, civil rights, ecologically disastrous projects, and so on and so forth. Issues, of which we have no dearth. Issues which could change the way people lived in India. Probably our politicians do not want to change the way our masses live. The mayhem was deafening and total. Not a sane voice was heard. In fact even humanitarian crises were addressed as they fetched votes (AIADMK and DMK did talk about the massacre of Tamilians in Sri Lanka).
Democracy is a philosophy which can be felt by those who cherish it. It is a political pluralism which gives space to breath. Democracies are meant for the betterment of their people. It’s a weapon of mass upliftment. As Indians we can’t be luckier enough to cherish a democratic set up nurtured through a unique freedom struggle. At the same time, as Indians we are unfortunate enough to mess with this dream. We made a tryst with destiny more than sixty years back. Today the dream lies shattered and unfulfilled. The custodians of our democracy have turned traitors of our fate. It is my firm belief that if things go wrong in a democratic set up, it is more difficult to set the house in order. Even harder than setting things right under a dictatorial regimen. Raping a democratic system is far easier than molesting a despot. It is high time that our politicians, the torch bearers of Indian democracy, wake up to the realities of this great land and its fantastic people. There is an urgent need to address the problems of the common Indian. To blur the boundaries of Bharat and India. To set examples for others to follow. To listen to the needs of those in pain. Pain from poverty, pain from hunger, pain from social ostracization. People of India await answers from those who are hell bent on fulfilling their own needs and agenda, all in the name of democracy.

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