A Lesson for Indian Polity
The manner in which the electorate of Punjab exercised its right to choose its legislators recently leaves many lessons for the elite members of the existing entrenched political parties which claim to have a right to lead the society and frame policies on its behalf, because they believe that they were born to govern. It served them well for so long, but not this time. They thought that people have no choices. The incumbent ruling outfit was confident of its success. The Akalis were equally hopeful and so was the BJP of forging an arrangement after polls to form a Government.
All calculations went wrong. Not only that! It was a shameful wipe out for Akali Dal, it ally BSP and BJP. Congress had already proved that its house was crumbling under the forces of internal fight for power. The people were always left helpless as they had limited choices. They had to vote for either of the two main contending parties i.e. Congress and Akali-BJP combine.
Dr. Johnson had long ago said that politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Lord Acton’s statement “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is of universal application. Our political parties and their legislators are often accused of being of criminal background supported by money-power and muscle-power.
They thrive on their enjoying a kind of position in which no one can either question or challenge them. The most powerful tool in the hands of a government is its police force which, unfortunately now, can be used to brow beat, intimidate and silence any opponent, even a political one. Then where does an ordinary man stand the chance to oppose hostile forces in the polity?
However, the people of Punjab have shown that a silent storm that had been raging in their hearts against the self-aggrandizing political leaders of the mainstream parties could teach every stalwart a lesson for a life time. A massively tilted verdict in favour of Aam Adami Party which reduced the numbers of Akali Dal and BJP MLA’s to a shameful figure of 3 and 2 has shown to the unabashed politicians of the conventional mould that people’s aspirations for a welfare state have no room for the like of them anymore.
In majority cases whosoever entered the legislature became wealth-centric and forgot that he was there to create a better world for the common man. Patronizing the corrupt aristocracy or unscrupulous traders and industrialists seemed to be the only occupation with these wrong representatives catapulted to power by the ballot bought with money or gifts or liquor. Colluding with illegal occupations to build a huge fortune through evil means is taken as natural right by this breed of politicians.
In Punjab, their ambitions have been laid to rest , at least for five years. So much so good! Such bitter lessons are a reminder that people don’t need to elect leeches to suck their blood.
It does not mean that the outfit voted to power is full of holy cows either. Yet, they will have to stand the test of probity and prove themselves worthy or else people will show them the mirror as they did in the case of the bigwigs in Punjab who thought that they were indispensable and to be returned to power was their monopoly. Now, it is a lesson for all. The lesson is that the unworthy politician will have to live in oblivion and disgrace!
(The author is a Retired Principal Government College, Hoshiarpur, Punjab)