Let me start this post with a simple question “You are a Modi fan and want him to be the next Prime Minister of India. But in your constituency, the candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party seems way better than others, be it because of his agenda, thinking, qualifications etc. To whom will you cast your vote?” A little confused, eh? Yesterday, I was sitting in a coffee shop with couple of my school friends and one of them posed the same question to me. The answer I gave him is what will follow up in this blogpost.
The founding fathers of Indian democracy never wanted power to get centralized in hands of one person. That is why India was made a parliamentary democracy, wherein elections are supposed to be fought between various parties and the members of parliament of the ruling party and then elect a candidate with the conscience of all elected representatives. On the contrary, elections in US are based on presidential system of democracy, wherein people have to fight within their party to get nominated and then they fight at the national stage.
Earlier, elections were fought on the party lines with a person leading the election campaign. Often he/she was elected as the Prime minister if the party gained a majority in the house. For this general election, I see an alarming degradation and tempering of the policy of parliamentary democracy. BJP declared Modi as their PM candidate about a year back. Even AAP, supposedly a party with change declared Kejriwal as their PM candidate in a statement the day he resigned as Chief Minister of Delhi. Even congress would have appointed a PM candidate, but they did not, mostly due to the fear of the fact that Pappu is no match for NaMo.
A question would arise in many of your minds – What difference does it make if Prime Ministerial Candidate is declared prior to an election? The implications of this question will arise once the predetermined candidate assumes the office and starts working. When people vote for a party, any policy failure is seen as the failure of that government ministry. Now when voting is done for a particular person, the failure won’t be looked as the failure of the concerned department or the ministry but of the Prime Minister.
Modi and Kejriwal are no saints. They would have their preferred tastes and flavours on various issues. The problem here would be interference and the required consent of the Prime Minister on issues relevant/irrelevant to his domain. Any policy or program wouldn’t be looked as the policy of the government but the policy of that person. He will be compelled to look into matters which otherwise only the minister incharge should have taken care of. Another problem, and a rather big one, is how much power are we giving to a person. In the early 70s, a congress leader had an audacity to say that – India is Indira and Indira is India. The same Indira misused the trust bestowed by the people a few years later. Similarly, the blind trust and belief in today’s elections might just lead to another chaos, all handiwork of power being concentrated to a single person.
The one quality that lies essential for any PM is to create a team and lead. That was the system envisioned for our country. Call him weak or whatever you want him too, the fact remains that Dr. Manmohan Singh still is one of the greatest intellectuals to walk into the Parliament. And no matter how much you say that he was a puppet in the hands of “Madamji”, I don’t think she had an intellect to discuss matters of economic policies with him. Indian economy is slowing down even with an economist leading the country. There are limits as to what a particular person can do for this country. I keep on saying this in my friend-circle; we do not need a strong Prime Minister. What we need is a person who is sensible, who has an ability to listen to his comrades, can work with a team of likeminded intellectuals and should have a sense of responsibility towards the people of the country.
It’s a failure on the political class that elections are fought highlighting a single person as an answer to our country’s problem. Even more than that, it is a failure on our part, for we blindly believe our political class and indulge in so called ‘hero-worship’.
What can we, the educated class, do in this election?
Please stop hooting for any PM candidate. Study the candidates for your constituency carefully and vote for someone who you think is the best. Let go this PM debate. Leave it for the media houses. Remember that there is no messiah who can take this country forward. To quote Winston Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried”. Democracy is a slow process. It will be a collective effort of the government with the support of the people that can take this country to great heights. We do not need a godlike figure to get our country out of poverty and other evils. All we need are sensible leaders, who work hard, execute their plans efficiently and deliver their promises. That’s it! No magic wand. No hero-worship.
When Justice Katju said about a year back that more than 90% of the Indians are idiots, he was backfired from all circles. Every morning, I take the newspaper to learn about the happenings in and around the world. After reading news articles since the last few days, I am convinced to believe that a majority of Indian population is stupid. The kind of issues that are being discussed as the top news, be it a five bedroom house of a leader or his mode of transport or his continuous persistence on avoiding security, which have no effect whatsoever on the daily life of an average Delhite or an average Indian clearly supplements my hypothesis.
The Aam Aadmi party or the AAP was started with a mission, a great mission of eradicating corruption in the public services and thereby promising a better government. The aim of providing excellent governance shouldn’t be neglected at the cost of maintaining a simple life. For me as a citizen, it doesn’t matter if someone lives in a 5 BHK house or a lavish bungalow. I want an efficient mechanism to get my driving license, voter card in time and without bribe. I want a transparent policing of various schemes of the government.
Sarojini Naidu said it rightly that “It costs the nation a fortune to keep Gandhi living in poverty.” The same would apply for the leaders of the AAP. It may inspire you to see Arvind Kejriwal travel in a metro instead of a car. But about 1700 police personnel were involved for smooth travel of Arvind Kejriwal and associates on his metro ride from Kaushambi to Ramlila Maidan. Kejriwal taking up all the praise from media and the great Indian middle class at the cost of so many extra police personnel than required is nothing but mismanagement of government resources.
I keep reiterating it in my friend circle and I repeat it here too, being a saint in politics should be an individual’s choice. There should be no need to enforce and publicize ones simplicity. By populating the culture of very simple living, there will be an increasing restriction on the number of people joining the movement. The AAP movement or for that matter, any political movement will flourish only when individuality is respected. For people to actually enter competitive politics, it should be looked upon as just another profession, where people join in, do their job, draw their salary, and maintain a decent standard of living.
The people in government sector are literally paid peanuts as compared to their corporate counterparts. To compensate a little for the small salaries, certain perks and privileges, like housing, transport is provided. My simple point is when one does the work assigned to him; why not use the salary and perks? And even if one does want to use the salary, why publicize the saintly deeds?
In a country where 600 million people are directly dependent on agriculture and there has been no job creation in that sector since the past few decades or so, where 40 percent of the people earn less than 50 rupees a day, where poverty and unemployment are accepted truths, it is the work of the government and not the way of life that will improve the standard of living of the people. A few months from today, it won’t matter if you wore plain shirts and traveled using public transport. The next time a person votes, it’ll be purely based on your delivery of services. To all the AAP ministers, your time is precious, stop being such a staunch Gandhian and focus all your energy on a better, accountable and efficient government.