INDIAN POLITICS: GOOD TO SEE THAT INDIAN DEMOCRACY IS EXPERIMENTING AGAIN

Politics is a social science and in a country like India, the science of politics affects the social weaving in a major way – negative as well as positive.

Unfortunately, in India, the political scenario has been mostly negative with its ill-effects of corruption, apathy and elitism.

Family rule, nepotism, dynasties and unbroken chain of tenures have created fiefdoms of politicians, that slowly and gradually, in collusion with the spirit of the ‘political camaraderie*’ (as eulogized by a senior politician), have coalesced to form a parallel kingdom of many ‘princely’ states with politicians and their families ruling with ever-spreading tentacles.

The Kings, the Princes, the Princelings, and the Acolytes, and their Hegemony – and their Rule!

For an India of an indomitable democratic spirit, it has to broken, it has to be revered, to get aligned with the textbook functionality of politics (or the academically defined responsibilities of political science.)

Wikipedia has this to say on politics (in company with its different halos) – “Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we ‘choose government officials and make decisions about public policy’.”

There are discourses, debates and definitions on ‘politics and political science’ but the crux has to be this. In India ‘this relationship between people and politics’ has been highly skewed in favour of the politicians.

Time has come to change that. 2011 revived a long forgotten spirit of the gravity of the peoples’ power with the anti-corruption movement of 2011. 2013 saw a step ahead in that direction giving power to an ‘apolitical political party’, just one-year old, with almost of the members having apolitical background. None of the ministers in the Delhi Cabinet have had previous political experience.

Yes, experiments these are; no need to certify them as of now; but can certainly be lauded. It is good to see that Indian democracy is now experimenting again, after a long time, keeping in centre the concerns of the common man, the voter, the person-next-door, a person like you and me.

That is the need of the day. That has to be the war-cry demand of the times we are living in, in a Republic that is also the world’s largest democracy.

The terms ‘politics of change’, ‘politics of values’ and ‘politics of ethics’ need to take the centre-stage of the political discourse in the country.

*Never attack family: Digvijaya Singh’s lesson on political ethics to Arvind Kejriwal
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/never-attack-family-digvijaya-singh-s-lesson-on-political-ethics-to-arvind-kejriwal-280101

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AAP BEYOND DELHI

Though just a regional party at the moment with just one electoral performance in Delhi in its bag, it has stirred the established notions of the current political establishment in India; it has made the members of the existing political class to accept the demand for political change in India.

Barring few, almost everyone was dismissive of the new outfit until the results came on December 8. They are now expressing their desire to learn from ‘how AAP did it’; they are talking of restructuring their outfits, their ways of doing politics.

And yes, what a surprisingly pleasant entry it has been. A voice to the suppressed and expressed desire of political change in India! An echo to the demand that was always there!

The symbolism in AAP’s victory has to be read.

Though there have been earlier instances of new political outfits leaving their mark in the very first election they fought, the timing and the background that led to the formation and political unveiling of AAP in Delhi is different.

It has its roots in the hugely successful apolitical anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, a peoples’ movement by people with great people to people connect, in 2011. Delhi was its epicentre.

That has directly affected the prospects of AAP. Additionally, AAP was supported well by the arrogance of the Congress party that regularly dismissed the issues of price rise and corruption with insensitive remarks. Remember former chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s callous remarks on electricity tariff in Delhi! And a BJP plagued with internal frictions in Delhi unit till the last few days when Dr. Harsh Vardhan was announced the chief ministerial candidate, was another point to encash.

Delhi poll results tell AAP has caught that imagination of people. Though many of the promises it made look next to impossible to implement but there is always a first time for everything and AAP should be given the benefit of doubt if is entrusted to the office to carry out the promises it made.

Anyway, anything like that is secondary at the moment. The primary thing, Delhi may not have a government for the next six months with the President Rule in place after the hung-assembly verdict. Everyone in Delhi including BJP is playing to the tune of ethical politics. Whatever be the underlying reasons, it all looks so good.

As the Lok Sabha polls are scheduled by April-May, holding another assembly election in Delhi should not be an issue. In fact, it should be seen as a welcome opportunity giving us the rare window of ‘politics of values’ at play in India.

Though it should expand, AAP needs to focus on consolidating its Delhi gain and should design its campaign in a way so as to not to dissipate its efforts and energy in widening its base out of Delhi.

Widening base – for any political outfit, that is important. But AAP needs to play it differently. It needs to play down its Delhi feat until it gets comfortably in the office and starts running the show of governance comfortably as well.

For them, it’s good if they get the opportunity to play the role of a responsible opposition for five years in Delhi. That will be the testing period, the cooling time to sift the required from the undeserving. A molestation case against an AAP MLA, a sting operation showing AAP candidates talking of accepting unaccountable money – there are many among the 28 AAP MLAs who are needed to be tried and verified on the scale of political and socio-political maturity.

The five years in opposition – if AAP doesn’t get the chance to form the government – that will give time to the party to understand its members inside out. That will give AAP time to understand and learn what it takes to become a national political party. More importantly, it will give the new political outfit a window of opportunity to realize its own fault-lines. They need to see they do not become another Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

And that will also give them the logical time to expand beyond Delhi.

Expanding beyond Delhi needs considerable resources in terms of time and finance availability. Also, demography of Delhi that made AAP the real winner of Delhi polls is not there in the small town and hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Maharashtra or any other state of the country. Also, Arvind Kejriwal is not JP. Even Anna Hazare could not be.

So, it is important for the party to set its priorities right to move further, to expand its political footprint, to design a campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls (and possibly for the Delhi assembly repoll) incorporating these elements.

It should not allow its Delhi gains to be washed out for the lure of reaching out to the whole nation so fast, something that killed the Jal Lokpal movement. Even if the movement was failing, people associated with it had started focusing on other entangled issues.

Its campaign should focus on demographic pockets of the country with similarities to Delhi to expand its base. Obviously it is going to be the urban centres first. It is going to be the people at the bottom of the pyramid, the middle-class and the youth of urban areas who are going to be in dialogue with AAP first. Once that happens across the urban pockets of the country, taking it to the small town and rural areas will follow.

But that needs time and patience. Does Arvind Kejriwal have it?

Also, they need to align their energy and synergize the same with Anna Hazare’s renewed call for the Jan Lokpal agitation, something Arvind Kejriwal must do to pay for failing the anti-corruption movement of 2011.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

UNHCR SRI LANKA RESOLUTION: RAHUL GANDHI HARD-TALKS ‘POLITICS OF CHANGE’ YET THE CONGRESS PARTY REAFFIRMS ITS NOT GOING TO CHANGE

The way the national events and the international developments, directly affecting the internal politics of the country, are happening tell us the Congress party has not even given a thought to the prospect that it is the time to change, to follow the politics of principles, that ‘enough is enough’, that no more unethical compromises to cling to the seat of power.

Abuse of power by the democratically elected governments in India has become a norm and the Congress party leads the pack, for it has ruled the country for the maximum number of years.

NOW could have been the time to walk the talk when, once again, Rahul Gandhi, the future prime-ministerial candidate and the party’s recently crowned vice-president, is talking not only to change the way the Congress party functions, but is also speaking about making the Indian politics free of undemocratic values like the dynasty politics.

Rahul has not been able to walk the talk in the past and has not been able to leave any strong political imprint yet but given his brief career in politics and so a less-exploited stock of ideation from the pool of thoughts, due weightage can be given to see if he intends to walk the talk this time.

Vote on the US sponsored UNHCR resolution against the human rights violations in Sri Lanka was such an opportunity when India needed to think from the perspective of ‘country first’ and not from the lure of clinging to the ‘power first’. That would have been a direct reflection of what Rahul Gandhi is talking about.

But! Alas!

Allegedly, the slain LTTE chief’s minor son was killed by the Sri Lankan troops in cold blood after he was captured during the civil war. Overall, there has been a global outcry on how the island nation crushed the LTTE war, greatly compromising the human rights of its Tamil population.

Post the civil war, efforts are on to the rebuild the nation and here, the international community including India can do much to ensure that the Tamils get what they lost during the war phase, by extending assistance and supervising the process effectively under some United Nations mandated body. If the international community could not interfere during the civil war phase, it has no right to make a point out of the civil war dangerous enough to derail the rebuilding process.

The compulsions of the foreign policy said India needed either to abstain or vote against the resolution moved by the US.

Sri Lanka is strategically important for India due to its location. Any deeper access to the anti-India powers like China or Pakistan in Sri Lanka is something India would never like to think of, for it would provide the these countries strategic outreach to India. But that has been happening in Sri Lanka for quite sometime now. China is developing projects in Sri Lanka, latest being launching the island nation’s communication satellite in the space.

India needs to be alarmed at the rate such events are happening in its neighbourhood. China is making good inroads in Myanmar, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

India, a country that is not in a position to armtwist its neighbours, should adopt a policy to go along where its national interests demand to go.

In case of the UNHCR resolution, India needed to follow a path that would not allow China deeper access in Sri Lanka. But India didn’t do that because it needed to placate political allies like the DMK in order to save its government that is surviving on volatile support of not-to-be-trusted political parties like SP or BSP who can pull the plug on any given day after the DMK withdrew the support.

But! Alas!

There was no walk the talk moment. The government chose to play safe in order to save its days in the office, even if it was at the cost of a potential foreign policy risk that can give India security nightmares in future.

The Congress party led government could have set a precedent by sending out a tough message that it was not ready to compromise with the national interests anymore by not supporting the Sri Lanka resolution during its vote.

But that didn’t happen.

It was never enough just to have a resolution diluted that is what many see as India’s doing. As of now, the DMK has criticised the government for failing to introduce tougher words in the resolution and has said would not join back the government. But who knows what happens tomorrow.

The way the top leadership of the Congress party went into panic on CBI’s raid at M K Stalin’s residence last morning tells us the government still believes it can bring the DMK back on the table.

The India vote against Sri Lanka on the UNHCR resolution was, indeed, yet another let-down by the Congress party.

And this is not the standalone event diluting the Rahul Gandhi hard-talk about the politics of probity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/