Saturday, 30 July 2016

Is Indian democracy marching backward?

  Politics is a highly competitive profession. 

Having said so, I must add that politicians do not like to be branded as professional politicians. They claim to be doing ‘social service’. During my early days in service when I was dealing with income tax cases of large number of powerful politicians of the country (from late 1968 to late 1974), only one of them (a junior Minister under Indira Gandhi) claimed politics as his profession. He did so because he wanted certain tax concessions available to professionals. Go through the bio-data of our MPs. You would find most of them claiming ‘social service’ as one of their main professions or one of their main hobbies.

With due respect to them, I continue to hold that for most of our politicians, politics is their only profession because there is hardly anything else they can do. The objective of the profession is political power which, of course, also means economic prosperity. Out of power, they make tireless efforts to capture power. Once in power, they think no end of themselves. 

Unfortunately for politicians, there is cut-throat competition in their profession, as in several businesses. Our politicians are engaged in fierce battle for space. Manufacturers and traders advertise their products to attract buyers. Directly or indirectly they downplay others’ products. So do our politicians. They adopt all possible means, fair or foul, to remain in public memory and to improve their vote bank.

There is no dearth of examples of foul means. We have MPs advising Hindus to produce more children. Such MPs are not bothered that most of the Hindus (like most of the Muslims and other communities) cannot afford to take care of even two children. Some of our MPs want to remain in limelight by attacking other communities. They are not bothered about the consequences of spreading communal hatred.

The latest example of foul means is a signed article by Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena MP, in ‘Saamna’, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece. The Rajya Sabha MP has reminded the people that the party founder Bala Saheb Thackeray had demanded that Muslims should be stripped of their voting right. In the opinion of this Rajya Sabha MP, “The mask of secularists will come off if Muslims are disenfranchised.” He thinks that such a demand is in the interest of Muslims themselves! So convinced is Raut of the merit of the demand that he wants Muslims to take the initiative on this.

Ironically, for Shiv Sena and MNS, in Maharashtra, Maharashtrians deserve preference over Hindus from other states. To strengthen their vote bank, tomorrow these parties may demand that non-Maharashtrians should be disenfranchised in Maharashtra. After all, Maharashtrians alone constitute their primary vote bank. 

The million dollar question is how to deal with people like Sanjay Raut, Skashi Maharaj and Giriraj Singh? Such irresponsible politicians are in the Muslim community also. Reportedly, the Mumbai police is examining the possibility of booking Raut for ‘hate speech’. Unfortunately, legal actions have no impact on such irresponsible politicians. At the same time, if no action is taken, a wrong signal will go that one can get away with any senseless, even unconstitutional, demands.

The ultimate remedy is rejection of such politicians by people. Unfortunately again, there is no sign that such consciousness is building up.

Is Indian democracy marching backward due to cut-throat competition for political power?

Devendra Narain
April 13, 2015