E D I T O R' S   C O L U M N

Vital issues that politicians hate to take up
By H.K. Dua

There is plenty of heat and dust in the elections and desperate politicians are running wild in different directions, worried like school children on the eve of exams.

Windbags among them are wantonly indulging in rhetoric, bluff and bluster and in many cases dirty tricks in a scramble for power. They are out in the field promising, as they always do once in five years, that now onwards they intend to serve the people.

Unlike the IPL, they have so far avoided employing cheerleaders to whip up public enthusiasm but film stars — who are always keen to lend their fans for an audience — and small-screen comedians have been mobilised for elections. There is outpouring of purple prose, degenerating into sheer abuse and invective.

Decency and civility that ought to mark an exercise meant to choose the nation's rulers for the next five years have given way to the trivialities of “The Great Indian Tamasha”.

Beyond the campaign din and drum-beating one can hear the murmurs coming from the politicians who could not get party tickets as well as armchair analysts suggesting that no serious issues have really emerged as the defining themes of the current elections.

The politicians and their parties are too busy with the day’s battle and have neither the time, nor perhaps the inclination, to talk about the real issues that are on public mind at the moment. Possibly, the politicians as a class have lost a feel of the people’s pulse and have not been able to understand what are the more serious anxieties weighing on the voters’ minds. There is a disconnect between the people and the politicians.

What the people are acutely worried is the question who will be able to form a government after the elections, which on the present reckoning, are bound to lead to a hung Lok Sabha. And a deadlocked House will surely lead to unprincipled alliances and trading in MPs, and leave the field free for fixers, wheeler-dealers and the moneybags who like to influence events in such times.

There are scores of smart alecs in the country whose business thrives on the situations when shaky coalitions come to power and go out of office, often leaving behind the stink of scandals.

Well-meaning political analysts tend to suggest that given the diversities of India, coalitions have come to govern at the Centre. There is merit in the view, but it does not answer the question how these coalitions are to be formed or brought down. As often was evident in the 1990s, governments come into existence and were pulled down, not because of the diversities but unhealthy pursuits of powerful lobbies and the vested interests.

Political instability, in turn, causes further disruption in the working of the political system and leads to loss of people's faith in its working, although not in its basics yet.

The nation loses in another way also. Long-term coherent policies of an emerging power simply cannot be made by short-term governments. The nation, if it is to be governed by hotchpotch governments after the elections, can lose its sense of direction and time.

Even sensible political leaders hate to discuss several other vital issues. When did we last hear about serious action being taken into the Telgi scam which involved an estimated business of Rs 55,000 crore in fake stamp papers? The scandal speaks volumes about the inaction of the governments of the NDA and the UPA. No one talks about the great fodder scandal involving Lalu Prasad Yadav and his friends, or about the Taj Corridor scandal involving Ms Mayawati.

No political party is talking about Jayalalitha's disproportionate assets case pending in the Supreme Court, or a similar case about Mulayam Singh Yadav.

There appears to be a conspiracy of silence among the political parties on corruption that remains a major concern of the people, many of whom are unfortunately tending to take it with a spirit of resignation and helplessness.

There is a similar conspiracy of silence on the issue of criminals in politics. This is clearly evident from the manner in which the members of criminal mafia have been rewarded with tickets for the Lok Sabha in varying numbers by almost all political parties.

If it is not Mohd. Shahabuddin, his wife Heena Shahab has been given ticket by Lalu Prasad Yadav, along with other candidates with serious crime backgrounds. Mukhtar Ansari has been given ticket by Mayawati. Manoj Pradhan, recently in jail for Kandhamal riots, has been given ticket by the BJP.

If not Pappu Yadav himself, his wife Ranjeet Ranjan has been given ticket by the Congress. Sadhu Yadav, brother-in-law of Lalu Prasad, who is an accused in the Bihar flood relief scam, is contesting on a Congress ticket from Champaran, where Mahatma Gandhi launched his first major agitation.

The list of criminal candidates in the current elections is much longer and cuts across most political parties.

Silence of the political leaders on such issues as corruption or giving tickets to criminals is deliberate. They do not want to face such questions, because they do not want to face inconvenient truth. They simply want to win a few seats more even if they have to share power with the undesirable elements. They are unmindful of the consequences of what they are doing.



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