No-shows are now an integral part of our electoral process. The culture of deserting their parties on the eve of elections has been in vogue for decades. Our aaya aries gaya ariesthe “netas” begin to seek greener pastures after completing their five-year terms as honorable members of assemblies or parliament, as the case may be. Politics is more a game of perception. Each political party strives to give the impression that it is within reach of taking power and sends an open invitation to all, with the support of certain caste groupings, to join the bandwagon to enjoy the fruits power for the next five years. This amoral game has been played for decades and is currently in full swing in Uttar Pradesh, which is linked to the polls and where very recently a few leaders who had been part of the ruling regime for five years threw the ruling party into complaining that the interest of the oppressed, backward, poor and marginalized strata of the people has been totally ignored by the government, in which these honorable netas ruled as ministers for five years!
These scenes are recurrent in the theater of politics. The two netas who recently ditched the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh did exactly the same thing years ago when they dumped the party that gave them a cabinet seat for a full five-year term during his reign in Uttar Pradesh. Then they also invoked the same feeble excuse that the then government had neglected the oppressed sections of the population. Ironically, they were welcomed with open arms by the current ruling party, were quickly given tickets to take part in Assembly polls in 2017 and were inducted into the cabinet as full ministers. No one can guess how long these party hoppers will last in their new dispensations. These two aren’t the only ones, there are hordes waiting to make a killing in the upcoming polls. Those who cry foul need to do some soul-searching, at least now.
This culture of politics, without ethics or morals, has come full circle. Many prominent leaders have traveled all parties and are at a loss where to go next. Political parties, such as they are, also have no scruples or ideological strength. Anyone is welcome in their fold – criminal, corrupt, rapist, looter, thug etc., if they are seen to be able to add a few votes from their caste to their new party tally. If they can satisfactorily prove their “winnability” at the hustings, then parties of all hues, regardless of their proclaimed political philosophy and the color of their flags, will flock to these netas to induct them into their party in fanfare. During an election period, it does not matter whether the neta is a sheet of history or whether it has an infamous past or a notorious character. This unscrupulous political culture has created the current political cesspool.
No country will ever be able to prosper and move forward with the kind of unprincipled political environment that prevails in our country. Our nation has the resources and skills to eradicate the scourge of poverty and provide a decent life to its citizens without any hassle. The corrupt political culture stifles development and crushes its potential. Unscrupulous politics leads to the induction of unscrupulous people into politics who get party tickets to run for office and become ministers and rule the country. Can the country expect the establishment of the rule of law when incompetent, criminal, corrupt and opportunistic people are chosen, basically, by all political parties as torchbearers?
The current wave of desertions of some ministers in Uttar Pradesh is the result of the admission of unscrupulous netas in previous elections, by the current ruling party. These are the same netas who had defected from their previous parties and joined the BJP, and they are repeating their past practice of defecting from their current party to move to another – to serve their own interests only. There is no principle involved in their actions, so their actions are not worth discussing. It is clear that everyone who was accepted with tinsel in 2017 by the ruling party is going to drop them and we will soon witness the drama of “welcome contests” by other parties as well.
When will this drama end is the question that demands an answer. Apart from the political parties, we the people also need to reflect on the current state of our polluted political culture and make a course correction. This rotten policy has already cost the nation dearly. We remain one of the most corrupt, poor and backward countries that has survived under the label of “developing country” for nearly seventy years. When will this label be changed to a developed country is not known, and no timetable has ever been presented to our people in this regard. We must not wait for an avatar of Krishna to come and clean up politics. The time has come for people to take action and eradicate the rottenness of our immoral political system. Otherwise, our second-rate political representatives will continue to provide third-rate governance.
(VS Pandey is a retired IAS officer under the UP. He was GOI Secretary)