Friday, February 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Himachal’s murky poll campaign

This has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “Himachal's murky poll campaign: People want growth with ecological balance” (February 14). Though I agree with him that Himachal is not Punjab, it is also true that whatever corruption is prevailing in Himachal has its origins in Punjab. There is a general impression among old Himachalis that prior to the merger of some areas of Punjab in Himachal, it was a corruption-free state.

It is also true that before eighties, the Congress was the only political party which ruled the state. Definitely, the Congress must share the responsibility for all this. But the BJP which came in power in 1977, 1990 and later in 1993, did little to root out this evil. On the contrary, corruption has increased, particularly in administration.

The Tribune Editor says that individual leaders’ property matters are best be left to a credible investigation or the institution of Lokayakta. But it is not a convincing argument. Anybody in public life cannot escape himself from such issues, whether it is related to one’s misuse of office or direct financial benefits. If any person at the helm of affairs or people around him are involved in any misdeed, the law must take its own course. The people also have a right to know.

ANIRUDH, Solan(H.P.)

Slogans won’t do

Apropos of Mr Hari Jaisingh’s write-up, elections are the fountain-head of corruption. In fact, electoral corruption is the most banal form of disease as it makes unscrupulous persons take control of the party machine and political power. This form of corruption is more dangerous than other forms because it sets in motion the machinery of corruption.


As things stand today, the euphoria generated by the Modi effect in the recent Gujarat elections has since evaporated. Few people ever care to read the various doctrines and manifestoes. The parties will need to put forward specific policies to tackle some of the major maladies that afflict the state. Sentimental speeches, vilification campaigns, mud-slinging and slogans such as ‘CM Hatao’ no longer enthuse the voters. Both the party in power and the Opposition should face the realities and act realistically as the author has rightly pointed out.

The article is an attempt to bring into focus the urgent need for streamlining our electoral system if democracy is to function in India. There can be no two opinions on the need to revamp our election system. But the objective cannot be achieved without prescribing a code of conduct for the political parties.

The Himachal election should serve as a warning signal of the fast approaching eclipse of democracy in India. If such dangerous trends, as highlighted by The Tribune Editor are not checked, democracy will lose its meaning and relevance.


Make it issue-based

This has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article “Himachal’s murky poll campaign”. One must agree that where as politics should be confined to areas of development, the poll campaign in a democratic polity should be issue-based.

However, as Mr Jaisingh has rightly observed in the article, poll campaign nowadays is becoming devoid of ethics and decent functional norms. The principle, “right means for right ends” is being ignored. Regional, casteist and religious emotions are played upon to win the elections. Besides, money and muscle power are frequently used to woo the voters. And the voters, out of illiteracy, ignorance and poverty, fall prey to possible manipulators.

While passions were aroused during the Assembly elections in Gujarat on communal lines, secular and democratic elements in the country were stunned. In fact, to win elections on communal lines is more dangerous to the health of democracy than raising issues pertaining to corruption.

The poll campaign in Himachal should be confined to issues pertinent to the socio-economic development of the state, ecological improvement and corruption-free and transparent system of government.


Focus on growth

This has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article “Himachal's murky poll campaign” (Feb 14). The rival contestants have stooped low to garner votes bidding adieu to decorum, dignity and morality. In a match of mud-slinging and character assassination, the real issues have been sidetracked. The only concern seems to be is how to win a period of five years to rule the debt-ridden Himalayan state relegating to the backstage the burning issues of development, economy, unemployment, penury, health services, welfare schemes and the plight of slum-dwellers, destitutes and the have-nots.

Unfortunately, people's sentiments are being exploited. They are being fed on the staple diet of platitudes to lure them. Castles are being made in the air just to befool the people who are often taken in by the shrewd, glib-tongued, hypocritical, wily and pecuniary politicians who spare no efforts to grab power by hook or by crook. The promises made are conveniently forgotten once being in the saddle. But all this is really tragic, unethical and unprincipled.

To win the mandate of the people, the parties in the fray ought to give priority to values over wealth, quality over quantity, state over religion and people's welfare over money. The people of Himachal are wise enough to give a befitting reply to canards, lies and populist promises. They will surely elect clean, honest and selfless representatives who can deliver the goods focussing on Himachal's growth with ecological equilibrium.


A fishy affair

Mr Hari Jaisingh has aptly described Indian politics as “a fishy affair”. Our politicians take people for granted, as a voiceless mass. People want growth with ecological balance. But in the elections, people are hypnotised to forget their woes and miseries. They are blown off their feet. The BJP arouses the Hindu sentiment against the pro-Muslim Congress. The Congress depicts the BJP Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh as a corrupt person.

Unless a new party with clean people emerges out of the political mud, the present parties will continue to fool the people with high sounding slogans and hollow promises.


A peaceful State

In his article, Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly pointed out that the poll campaign has to be clean and fair. This is what real democracy demands. But in Himachal, all the political parties are indulging in character assassination.

Strictly speaking, Himachal Pradesh is not Punjab. Himachal is a peaceful state. Therefore, there is the need for decorum and dignity. I sincerely hope that the people of Himachal will vote for those who speak of their programmes for ending the abysmal poverty, inequality and for making their lives better and happier in the years to come.



Q. How will Indian cricket fans see India’s victory over Zimbabwe in Pool A on Wednesday?

A. Though there were some initial slips, with a 83-run victory over Zimbabwe, one word in every Indian’s lips is — “Mogambo khush hua”.



Wanted: statesmen, not politicians

This refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh's enlightened article “Himachal's murky poll campaign”. It is said that a politician thinks of the next election, but a statesman thinks of the next generation. So, the need of the hour is that more and more politicians should conduct themselves as statesmen, not politicians. Only then we can think of the welfare of the nation as a whole.

The aim of the political parties should not be to win elections for short-term gains, that too, by indulging in mudslinging and wild vilification campaign and hitting below the belt. All parties must ensure that they are conducting the poll campaign in a mature and dignified manner. They are not supposed to resort to populism. They must see the ground realities and economic status of the state before offering the moon to the people. Perhaps poll promises are meant only till the day of polling. After that they seem to lose the glitter and political parties try their best in making one excuse or other for not able to fulfil most of the electoral promises.

As regards corruption, if a ruling party in any state is able to give a corruption-free and transparent government, it has better chances to return to power again. Other parties should also try to follow such a corruption-free government in their respective states. This way, India can become a corruption-free country. Let us give a chance to a corruption-free system so that India acquires the status of an economic superpower.

The political leadership at the Centre and in the states should be upright, honest and free from corruption. Only then, those down below the line in the hierarchy will not dare to indulge in corrupt practices.



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