Of politics and dissent

Groucho Max once observed, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”. . . and thereby remaining in controversies keeping people engaged in unnecessary things to keep them away from necessary things.

Right from last general elections, the country is grossly engaged in politics and politics only, the entire society is just carried away, rather carried over, towards Art 370/35a, Sabrimala, govt formations in Haryana and Maharashtra, Ramjanmbhoomi and now CAA – as if all the issues of hunger and poverty, of education and living, of employment and livelihood etc etc have been sorted out and solved to our satisfaction and we have now enough time of having the luxury of engaging ourselves in either supporting or opposing the issues not even remotely effecting the poor, downtrodden and struggling to meet the both ends.

Come 23rd and we would have new topic of Jharkhand govt formation – plus and minus of it and based on what happens, we would be ready with our justifications and analysis and these talks may take few more days, if not weeks.

No media, no political party, no pressure group, no intellectual has really any time left to them to talk about rising price of potato now after soaring onions – the poor being left with only salt over their dry rotis. So nice of the govt, which came into being showing so many dreams to them and so nice of all the stakeholders of the system justifying and glorifying public mandate for growth and prosperity, for a cohesive and developed India, for a society with peace and warmth. 

And an ever new trend has emerged asserting that most of the people protesting against an issue, are not aware of the issue altogether meaning thereby people are either misguided or hired to protest by the opposition – having either vested interests or taking Pakistan line and thereby being antinational.

And I went back to the people at large – the real people at the ridge, just chanting Modi Modi all the way day and night who pushed Lotus button – and most of them did not know why they did vote for Modi. So? Does this mean that they were just manipulated or instigated (or hired?) to vote for Modi? Was or is the madness about Modi was wrong? Was the passion of the people that a change – an overall change – would come with Modi, a dilemma? 

At least a hundred of people attached with my family one way or the other would come and ask my grandfather – Baba whom to vote for – and my grandfather would suggest them this side or that side and they might have just adhered to that. Did my grandfather have vested interest in doing that and were the people respecting just playing in his hands? DO the illiterate laborers in the remote village of UP wearing amulet of Modi picture in his neck, not knowing anything about BJP and without any explanation for that, is a misguided or hired guy? 

And for that matter, did the people following Gandhi – the poor and illiterate – doing everything as asked for by Bapu, know what they were doing or why they were doing what they were doing?  

In fact, we Indians are too passionate people – passionate to the extent of being mad – and often swayed away by whosoever has the art of encashing the passion. Indira ji did it with Garibi Hatao and Modi ji Bhastchar Mitao and Desh Bachao. Example of Indira ji – because post Nehru people showed love and madness for only these two leaders of the nation. 

Paradox of politics is that if the madness is for them it is positive and respectful mandate, but if there are dissenting voices, they tend to become synonym for sedition and this happens more with the leaders elected with mammoth mandate for they often live in illusion that people’s mandate is eternal. They do not appreciate the fact that people’s mandate is often mercurial and true leaders do always try keeping pace with its surge and slide. 

Not all the protesters and dissenters of any govt move – from J&K resolution to CAA – are misguided and hired, most of them are in their brains and know what and why of their doings. They might be dissenters, at times even rebellions, but not enemies of either the govt or the nation. And though the govt might have been formed by the majority party but it becomes a nation’s govt, living a national ethos and trying doing good for each of the citizens. Of course, it is not always possible to keep all on same page and it is not necessary too.

Doing things by majority is a matter of convenience of democracy, it is not the essence of democracy. The essence remains doing good for all by the majority – not doing good only to majority by the majority. And let it be confirmed that this govt has the firm grip over the people at large – it honestly wished peace and calm after Ayodhya verdict, it did achieve it fully and completely. So the govt or media need not be resorting to terming the dissenters as a misguided lot only. This has to be dealt with gracefully and decently.   

The CAA protests have taken place at many states – remarkably Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, UP – why the handling has been so arrogant in UP and so descant in Maharashtra? 

BJP, after ruling the country for more than 5 years now needs to grow up and make a habit of ignoring certain things. CAA is law of the land now and if there are people protesting it, govt has to handle it prudently than harshly, if it has a clear and without prejudice intent. It has to have a defined mechanism to handle dissents and it would be naïve to presume that there would be 100% acceptability of whatever it does.

Two things are quite apparent – One, few leaders of the ruling party show arrogance in public by their statements as well as body language – arrogance enough to offend people despite caution by not less than Prime Minister himself. Two, the govt does not appear to do enough homework before taking a decision on, especially, contentious issues. It often appears to have been trapped in its own web. 

Protests, dissents and demonstration are the sign of a vibrant and dynamic democracy. Handling them are an art of politik and administration – away from politics this requires the statesmanship. It looks awkward that anyone in the govt talks out on any of the issues. This causes avoidable contradictions and overlapping. It would be prudent to have a tiny group of leaders in govt to handle the issues of public concerns. 

And somehow or the other, of late, people feel that Modi ji is running out of ideas. He does not appear to have the same enthusiasm and interest as his first term. This public perception is not at all good and Modi ji has to ensure more grip over the ethos, spirit and doings of his govt. 

A leader has to come up, take charge and ownership. The true leader goes by public opinion but at the same time moulds and shapes it as well. As Augustus Hare puts it “A statesman should follow public opinion. Doubtless, as a coachman follows his horses, having firm hold on the reins and guiding them”. 

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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