Raouf Rasool

Politics of brazen lies

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To lie is a ‘sin’ or at least deplorable. This has got universal acceptability and people cutting across the differences of religions, and cultures and other markers agree that lying is inacceptable. Morally speaking, when someone lies about something he/she is and should be looked down upon by others as being insincere and deceitful. In legal terms, if someone lies to a court and court detects it, he/she is liable to be punished for perjury. The reason being that people deposing before the court are under an oath that they won’t lie – “Jo Kuchh Kahun Ga, Sachh Kahun Ga; Sachh Ke Siwa Kuchh Nahi Kahun Ga” — that they would divulge everything truthfully.

Such is the importance of the virtue of truthfulness that those chosen to represent a larger body of people and their interests are also administered oaths, either written or verbal, or both – that they won’t lie and that they would do everything to secure the interests of the people they represent. This is why oath-taking or swearing-in ceremonies are seen as a formal take-off and important initiation ritual for the elected representatives in democracies world-over.

In our part of the world also, legislators and ministers are administered a formal oath to ensure their sincerity and truthfulness in whatever they do while in office. It is also their pledge to safeguard the interests of the electorate. Indeed this is what is, in essence, the heart and soul of democracy – that the elected representatives would act on behalf of their electorate and do everything to alleviate their problems and promote their welfare and wellbeing.

Now the question is: if a person caught lying to the court is charged for perjury, is there some kind of punishment also for those political leaders who have made lying through the proverbial teeth into their USP. Legal nuances of the debate notwithstanding, for that is something for the specialists to decide; morally speaking, a person whose falsehood stands exposed deserves no mercy and must be shown the door. He/she has no moral right to continue in any position of power, or even aspire for one afresh  after his/her lies have been uncovered. So cutting the long debate short, one could suggest that it’s time for most of our politicians of varied ideological and political lineages to call it a day. The reason being that their lies stand exposed before the people and that the latter no longer has any faith in them.

There are people who claim that if chosen by the people once again they would bring about a huge turnabout in the situation, safeguard state’s special status, secure people’s rights, address their needs, respect their urges …. They promise proverbial moon and stars once again while conveniently overlooking that on previous occasions as well they had promised similar things. But upon wresting power, they didn’t keep their pledges. So, without going into unnecessary details of why did they not live up to their promises, the fact of the matter remains that they are fit to be held for perjury. But the irony is that the state and the societal systems have not able to evolve with a culture of accountability and transparency. Here politicians of all hues indulge in brazen trickery and deceit, and so do the bureaucrats and other government functionaries; and never ever has anyone here been punished for feeding wrong information to the public. And what is really unfortunate is that it is the ordinary people, the have-nots, who are the ultimate victims of this plague of deceit and unaccountability that has been afflicting the politics and governance here.

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