How to clean up the political mess?
India happens to be the largest democratic country in the world. Compared to other democratic countries, our country has the largest number of voters and also, the largest number of political parties. Recently, the hunger for political power has prompted a spurt of unethical political scenarios in our country. The contemporary happenings are in direct conflict with the dreams that freedom fighters of pre-independence era had about the future of our country. Giving up comforts and sacrificing lives for their country were the coveted virtues in that period. But the current state of affairs seems to project a feeling that the democracy exists solely for the welfare of the politicians and not of the public. Once elected, there is no limit for their atrocities. Corruption is rampant and spreading in demonic proportions. In this regard, the proposals endorsed by Anna Hazare have been warmly received by the general public and as a result, the Lokpal Bill has become the subject of wide spread discussions. Well planned efforts to discredit and weaken its popularity are in motion as well. In fact, there is no guarantee that even this Bill would succeed in eradicating the corruption. This is clearly evident in Hazare’s statement, “Even if I myself contest in the elections, I will not win.” It would not be a surprise if the Lokpal Bill meets the same fate as the “Ban Party Crossover” Bill. It will be transformed into a toy snake in no time. Corruption is like a wild weed. It is better to prevent it from sprouting than trying to pull it out after it is fully grown. In my opinion, there are a few easy plans to clean up this “Ram came, Ram went and everything is safe and sound” type of political mess. I would like to share them with you.
After the elections are over and the results are out, everyone’s focus will be on grabbing the fatter chairs. Power becomes the prime objective while caring for people’s comforts takes a back seat. The majority party will hold the power. In case of any deficiency in gaining majority, it will be corrected by hook or crook. If there is an instability situation, the legislators get traded like horses.
Those in the opposition party do not sit still either. They try to pull a few legislators from the majority party into their hold. They are constantly on the lookout to dethrone the ruling party. The ruling party will try hard to retain power while those in the opposition will try to snatch it away from them. People are frustrated by watching, listening, and reading about these sensationalizing maneuvers. The infant deflates when parents fight! There is no time for the legislators and the ministers to attend to the plight of the farmers. They are engaged, fulltime, in the political sea-saw for their own selfish needs.
The situation is such that if you ask anyone, “what party are you in?” his predictable response probably would be like, “the party that is ready to give me a ticket to contest.” On seeing this kind of people, I am reminded of a bitterly harsh vachana of Basavanna where he asks, “Could we call a woman, who says every man she meets is her husband, as virtuous?” His statement, of course, is in reference to the relationship that exists between a devotee and a deity. A married woman cannot call every man on the street as her husband. Such a woman is not considered virtuous. Basavanna himself says on another occasion, “There is but one husband for a trusted wife, one God for a trustable devotee, No, no, more than one God is nothing but prostitution.” A true devotee should have trust in one God, should worship one God. Shifting Gods citing that their wish is not fulfilled is nothing short of prostitution. Sadly, such prostitution is the practice of the day among all political parties that exist today.
Party loyalty does not exist among members of any political party. Ethical Proclamation is only hearsay. Power-mongering is the working tactic of all the parties. A political atmosphere prevails where anyone who is wealthy can contest anytime from any party. Within the party itself, a culture is developing where in the loyal workers are overlooked and those with the money are heralded. Without studying the strengths of the candidate in the opposing party and ignoring the suitable candidate within the party who could prevail over the opposition, a political treachery that seeks to drag an unsatisfied individual from the opposition into their own party fold by granting a party ticket is increasing. A few relatively easy plans listed below to restrict ‘the resort politics and operations’ that are transparent in Karnataka, in my opinion, are worth considering:
· It should be mandatory for each political party to register the list of its members in the election panel just as the members from various parties register their names in the Registrar’s office. The candidate wishing to contest from any party should have been a member of that party for a minimum of five years. Anyone with even a day less than five years in the party should be made ineligible to contest from that party.
· In the event of a switch over from one political party to the other, such candidate should be unable to obtain a ticket to contest from that party. A five year waiting period should be mandatory before a ticket is granted.
· An amendment should be made to the existing “Ban Party Cross-over” rule. Ban should be applicable for group crossovers as well.
· Any candidate who has won an election from a particular party feels suffocated from internal politics of the party should be able to resign and contest as an independent in the elections.
· Candidates who have won an election as independents should not be allowed to join any other political party. They could give external support to the government, but should be ineligible to join the cabinet ministry.
· All arbitration committees created to satisfy the unhappy legislators unable to land a cabinet post should be dissolved completely. The business that was conducted by such committees should be carried on by the concerned ministries.
· The rigid requirement to have a majority to form the government should be relaxed. The party with the largest number of votes should be able to form the government. If a candidate with 25,000 votes in a constituency of 1, 50,000 voters could be declared a winner due to distribution of votes among several candidates, then why should a party with majority votes not be able to form a government?
· We cannot say that everything a ruling party does is right. The mentality of the opposition party should not be to oppose everything that the ruling party does. A bill needs a majority to be passed in the assembly. The ruling party should have the welfare of the people as their objective in submitting a bill to the assembly. A good bill should be such that the opposition party should be scared to oppose it in the assembly.
My good hearted readers, the need to control our bullish legislators who are no better than the wolves that are assigned to watch over the hapless sheep, is an urgent one.
Dr Annapur Shivakumar