Politicians’ Poor Performance: in the Light of the Recent NSSO Survey

When the theatre of the absurd had been gaining currency in post-war Europe of the 1950s, obsession with excessive reasoning and logic was being criticized. The empirical understandings of post-colonial Europe and war-happy North America experienced a sudden blow, not in economic terms but in the formation of a thinly united third world ideology. India, a leader of the third world and the subsequent Non-alignment movement, was filled with optimism of a newly liberated nation. Things were difficult but the political class, at large, had a vision that led the nation through the heated up silence of the cold war nuclear politics.

Nearly 70 years after, an Indian citizen superficially aware of political course in the country will be remembered of the idea of the theatre of the absurd. A recently conducted survey by the NSSO has stirred up the old debate of poverty reduction statistics, the parameters and definitions of poverty. Our political parties are so obsessed with number that they are missing out the wood for the tree. There are some political leaders who are circulating frivolous statements which seriously question their ability of representing masses. For example, Raj Babbar, a congress spokesperson, has recently said that rural people can have a tomato or a mango from their own fields or trees whenever they wish, no one asks them to pay for those things.  And Prakash Javedkar, a BJP spokesperson has identified the NSSO report as ‘a ploy of Congress against the poor’. The way the important report is being used by the political camps to score electoral brownie points doesn’t make us hopeful as citizens of this glorious nation.

This is not a novel trend as far as Indian politics is concerned. Every time our politicians get hold of a statistics for or against them, unhealthy pandemonium is let loose. It is no exception this time.

The report reveals a sharp decline in the number of Indian people belonging to the below-poverty-line. In the fiscal 2011-12, the number of BPL people in India stands at 21.9% of the population. It was 29.8% in 2009-10 and 37.2% in 2004-05.

The UPA has started circulating the data as a summit of their success stories. With the general elections in 2014 around the corner, the ruling coalition has finally got an oasis in the long arid stretch of their second regime. Corruption, economic downturn, and policy paralysis- everything seems to be a closed chapter and with the NSSO survey report in hand, they are in search of a mandate once again.

If Congress comes, can BJP be far behind? They are leaving no stone unturned to resist the UPA from garnering political sympathy towards the closing period of the ruling coalition’s second term. Theories of ploy, stratagem, tricks, and misuse of governmental power are doing the rounds.

If we closely look at the facts, this battle of words appears to be an utterly futile exercise. The best performing states, according to the survey, are Bihar and Orissa. Regional parties outside both the UPA and the NDA are at the helm of affairs in both these states. The two states- Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat- ruled by BJP reflect opposing scenario. So do two UPA ruled states Manipur and Kerala.

There should have been a conciliatory approach in the political strategies and both the coalitions should have worked together for the betterment of the nation. When will our politicians be matured enough to lead the country?

The Lotus is Sinking and the Hand Gets Dirtier

Lying is an established & proven phenomenon in Indian politics. It is a practised trend and part of Indian socio-political history. People of India and media alike, these days, don’t pay too much attention to the ever-widening gap between our politicians’ words and actions. For immediate gains, politicians iterate so many things that they themselves do not believe in and try to implement. Lying by politicians, more often than not, is not dangerous for overall affairs of the nation but at times, it informs us of directions to which the nation in general and the political class in particular are heading for.

A few days back, BJP leader from Utter Pradesh and former home minister of Gujarat Amit Shah, who is a close aide to BJP’s 2014 election’s campaign committee chief Narendra Modi, said that they would surely build Rammandir in near future. One can question what he means by the word they. Setting it aside, we can proceed to the rest of his statement. Mr. Shah said that Hindutva would be the key issue in the electoral agenda of BJP for the 2014 general election and with Hindutva at the forefront, they would surely come off with flying colours. A few days after Mr. Shah issued this statement, BJP president Rajnath Singh, in one of his rallies, said that Rammandir is not at all an electoral or a political issue; it is rather a national issue. And Hindutva is not a political agenda of BJP. Two conflicting statements by two leaders of the leading opposition are reflective of their respective political aspirations.

Sushma Swaraj, another leader of the first order in BJP, took this double standard to the point of self-deception. In the context of the serial blasts in Bodhgaya recently, Mrs. Swaraj said that they would not allow India to be another Bamiyan. (Here again pops up the bizarre question ‘what really does the word they mean?’). I don’t understand whether she is suffering from amnesia which makes her forget that it was BJP that essayed a pivotal role in the destruction of Babri Masjid back in 1992.

So many conflicting aspirations are gaining currency inside BJP that their promise to initiate a well-orchestrated regime seems to be a tall claim. Even as an opposition, BJP’s praxis in the corridors of both houses of parliament doesn’t make Indian people optimistic.

Parallel to that, the way the second regime of UPA is making its progress is not too presentable either. Rahul Gandhi appears to be their leader at the forefront and probable prime ministerial candidate but so far, he has failed Congress and its allies in every responsibility he has been entrusted with. From the assembly election in Utter Pradesh to the formation of Youth Congress & NSUI as organizations of national importance, Rahul Gandhi is nothing but a tragic warrior prince. UPA 2 is struck between policy paralysis and economic downturn; wooing its regional allies over NCTC or position regarding Sri Lanka has been getting difficult with the exit of Pranab Mukherjee from electoral politics. But the biggest threat for UPA and the nation as a whole has been the spectre of corruption. Never before in India, was such a series of scams involving political leaders within such a short period of time exposed.

Picture is not too bright for India. Lack of a decisive leadership in both sides of power, rise of China as supreme power in the Asia-pacific, ever-growing American effort to exert control over the region, cross-border and domestic threats of terrorism, rising level of public anger against the political class, corruption and unhealthy competition for power- there is an endless list of worries for India as a nation.

At this critical time, our political leaders must remember that people forget but history does not.