Ask them ‘why’

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With elections round the corner, though a formal notification is yet to come about, people are getting to see a completely different behaviour among the political class here. They are once again seeking support in lieu of moon and stars they promise to the electorate. While some are seeking votes by being self-congratulatory about their previous so-called “historic achievements” and “path-breaking initiatives”, others are trying to woo the people on the pledge that they will fight for “their rights”. And there are still others who are talking about ushering a “change” which nobody actually bothers to explain what it would be like and how if at all the same could be brought about. There are still others who are telling them not to believe the propaganda of one side while seeking overwhelming and unrelenting support for their brand of politics. So the poor people, as usual they are once again at the receiving end of the brazen lies and fake promises, emotive slogans and exciting dreams.  But before they actually decide anything, they must try and use the opportunity to ask some tough questions – first to themselves and then also to the ones who are seeking their support.

Some time back a beautiful advertisement, perhaps of some brand of tea, featured on television which showed a politician coming to the people seeking votes. And as the political leader asks to vote for him, he is in turn asked: “Why? Why should we vote for you? What makes you think that you deserve our vote?” This is the opportunity that is there with the people right now. Whether or not anyone visits them personally asking for vote and support, but they should ask themselves why should they heed the appeals and requests of any particular group or individual. They should qualify their support for any brand of politics with some real reasonable reasoning. Those asking them to boycott the elections need to be asked to explain how the same is going to help the common people and their “cause”. “We did heed your calls for boycott on so many occasions in the past too, but how have you been able to use our support for boycott to deliver us from our painfully protracted sufferings? Have you been able to channelize our anger and alienation towards anything positive? And, how do you plan to use our support for your brand of politics now?”

Uncomfortable these questions may be, but they should be asked nevertheless, more to our own-selves than to others. As for those in the other camp, well they too have a lot of explaining to do before they seek people’s votes and support. They must explain their track-records in terms of their own election manifestos – the promises and pledges they had made at the time of previous elections. And certainly in past couple of decades a lot of things have happened here which must be explained by the major regional parties here which have been in power during this time though in coalition with two major national parties. Just parroting the terms like “historic achievements” and “path-breaking initiatives” does not make anything historic or extraordinary. We were once told that ‘Roshni Act’ is a “historic initiative” akin to the ‘Land to Tiller Act’ and that it will deliver this state and its people from perennial darkness to light (‘Roshni’). Nothing of the sort happened. Instead it only provided a legal cover for the sleazy business of land-grab, which actually benefited only a few at the cost of the preciously priceless resource – the state land, which actually belonged to the people of this God-forsaken land. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is on record to have pointed out the huge discrepancies in the implementation of the Roshni Act.

Now that every single mainstream grouping is once again seeking votes from the people, it will be worthwhile if they bother to do some explaining about past tenures both in power and while being in the opposition. And for the people, it is high time that before bartering away their votes to emotive slogans or other petty considerations, they should seek answers to the questions that haunt them both individually and collectively.

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