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Isn't India greater than us all?

Last updated on: May 23, 2009 10:34 IST
In times like these when the nation is facing serious external and internal challenges, it is incumbent upon anyone who thinks he is a nationalist to help the new government run smoothly.

Initially, the young brigade of Rahul Gandhi's team makes a terrific impact and buoyed with an Indian electorate's spectacular support, they look pretty good. With a suave Manmohan Singh at the helm it must make India better its image and move ahead, and why one should criticise them just they are not members of our party and don't sing the same song?

Isn't India greater than us all and our parties put together?

Having said that, it's also necessary, to stay firm, like Casablanca, on what has sustained the other side so long. Even if the Bharatiya Janata Party got almost 40 million votes less than the Congress, I would want every single party which fought the election on different manifestos and programmes to remain firm on its fundamentals and speak out about the anomalies of this system while working together for a common greater good of the people.

Isn't it great to see many stalwarts from various parties being elected to the Lok Sabha, which is sure to enrich the debates and the art of governing India?

Arrogant moneybag criminals are less this time and the young brigade from different parties showcase the youngest nation on this planet quite gracefully.

A few points on the other side must also be pondered over.

Indian democracy has come a full circle. From Mahatma Gandhi's salt movement to a universal dynastic movement. No party can say it's not following the new thumb rule.

  • Almost half the voters didn't vote.
  • Money spent per constituency reached an all time high as per newspaper reports with exceptions of a few like the Loksatta Party's Jayaprakash Narayan. Just one or two seats? The rest are real crorepatis.
  • It's all mathematical jugglery. Somewhere Raj Thackeray's maneuverings and in another state the Praja Rajyam Party diverted the anti-incumbency votes and the consolidated Muslim vote bank helped.
  • More than half the votes polled went against them. The Congress got just 28 percent. The rest of the voters -- 72 percent -- didn't vote for it. The BJP's share came down to approximately 18 percent (in 1999 it got 25.3 percent). Still they say people voted for a stable and secular government and showed the door to the communalists who got nearly 18 percent votes.
  • What were the issues that the 'communalists' raised?

    The issue of the Kashmiri Hindus. Was that wrong?

    Or demanding revocation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and stringent measures against terrorists?

    Or the agitation for the Amarnath land and preservation of the unique world heritage and a symbol of faith like the Ram Sethu?

    The nationalists opposed the divisive politics of Raj Thackeray, who was propped up by the Congress to counter the Shiv Sena. Was opposing Raj wrong?

    They were responsible for Pokaran-II and were committed to preserve our rights for Pokaran-III if needed. Was that against the national interest?

    On the eve of the polls they said forget 1984, but remember Gujarat. What mentality did it show?

    The nationalists wanted Article 370 to go and Kashmir fully integrated with the rest of India. Was that against national integration?

    Should India be governed on religious fragmentation and parochial chauvinism or on the basis of egalitarianism, equal rights and privileges to all rising above the communal lines?

    Let everyone ponder -- Hindus have been continuously assaulted for the last 1,200 years. Do they have a right to preserve their heritage and way of life after a partitioned independence or not?

    On the other hand the Congress, whatever they believed in, they delivered.

    Removed POTA, faced opposition. Didn't relent.

    Introduced reservations for the Muslims. Faced opposition. Didn't relent.

    Constituted Sachar Committee. Its divisive attitude and faulty inferences were discussed and severely criticised. It didn't budge an inch and carried on.

    Faced a barrage of criticism on the delay in hanging Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru. It stood sweetly firm.

    It de-froze Octavio Quattrocchi's accounts in London, unshackled him from the Central Bureau of Investigation. The media and the others cried foul. So what? It remained cool.

    It kept silent over Nandigram, Singur. But had the prudence to tie up with the Trinamool Congress. And succeeded in defeating the Left.

    It gave huge amounts of plan allocation funds to the minorities ignoring the majority Hindu concerns. So what? It got Hindu middle-class votes plus Muslim ones.

    It faced flak on its policy to combat terrorism, had to change its home minister and the chief minister of Maharashtra post the 26/11 attacks. Yet it won in Mumbai handsomely.

    It got a nuke deal passed despite the entire Opposition and one of its key allies opposing it in one language. It saw silently that Parliament was turned into a bazaar. Yet it won the Muslims and a new mandate.

    And the Hindutva group faced a powerfully hostile section of the media. Some of them became an instrument to oppose Hindu assertions maligning them with celebrative enthusiasm for irrelevant happenings like we saw at the Mangalore pub. Their ('fair, objective and independent torch bearers of freedom of expression') controllers, writing in newspaper columns and on their blogs, had nothing but a decisive opposition and acidic hate for a particular section of the Indians who asserted their dharma.

    These Hindus were demonised for their civil assertions and all the media space was given to the one sided attacks on them like the Taliban did in Swat.

    How the owners of the channels, writing politically partisan columns in newspapers that blatantly support a particular political party, would allow a debate that can be closer to objectivity and does justice to the other viewpoint?

    Those who fought for the immediate gains must sulk.

    Those who battle for ideology must stay firm.

    It needs someone to say that only buildings and roads and good governance are not ideology but a partial manifestation of its programmes. Ideology distinguishes a Gandhi from a Hitler, a Golwalkar from a Stalin.

    If in this kind of a maneuvering polity, the chips are down for the BJP today, it doesn't show that the issues have been rejected or defeated. It must always remember the reason that the Jan Sangh was re-born as the BJP. People have supported it so far because it is perceived as the only party that doesn't feel embarrassed to protect the Hindu ethos of the nation.

    That's what L K Advani admitted in the Mumbai executive meeting held after the 2004 defeat. The only factor that will reinvigorate and make the adherents of a movement fortified by the martyrdoms of hundreds of workers rise again is the power of ideology, a youthful solidarity and not just the blue prints of IT highway plans and NREGS allocations.

    India rising must mean India civilisationally committed, militarily strong and economically sound. Hindutva without a strong poverty alleviation drive and guaranteeing employment and housing to all is as meaningless as a temple without the deity. And vice versa.

    These were the elections that were contested by the rich to get richer at the expense of the poor and powerless, unorganised millions. Nowhere were the issues of empowering the poor and low-income groups, or earmarking housing as a fundamental right and increased facilities and ultramodern training to the police and security forces were considered a winnable election slogan or a charter to earn people's mandate.

    How did the parties connect or even tried to befriend and educate a rickshaw puller on issues that affect his life as a citizen? Did they feel the need for it? He would be required only in a rally of the poor to be addressed by a rich leader. He is the class, which is used for emotive issues as cannon fodder. He dies in greatly publicised agitations unsung with none of the red-eyed, angry leaders who led him to death caring how his family is continuing with a life that it didn't choose.

    Issues of Hindu-Muslim, caste and provincialism are raised just for the limited gains of vote and then easily forgotten once the space in Lutyen's Delhi is assured.

    The life of a hawker or labourer who gets his daily wages after a cut by his middleman contractor and the factory worker hasn't changed since last decade. Still in the remote villages water scarcity, famines, floods, 12-hour power cuts, bad roads and overloaded means of transportation are facts of life.

    The mushrooming growth of the new educational malls providing half-baked degrees to aspiring youth and the huge number of increasing urban and rural unemployed semi-skilled work force can't get on to the agendas of any politician unless they form a usable vote bank.

    The urban public amenities, buses, railway stations and localities of the low-income group working people show unbelievable depths of human misery, filth, anarchical systemic failure and life in sub-human conditions.

    If those who won on the basis of factors quite differently than the real democracy is all about, should it mean the issues so dear to the ideological soldiers be shelved? Or should it make our battle more resolved?

    And it also means asking questions like what's the use of religious chants if the followers of Ram go to sleep on empty stomachs? This is not what we have learnt from Vivekananda.

    If we have to find a way for our identity protection, that can't only be through a society that is educated and free from want. Hence, this war is ideological and not for the singular aim of materialistic prosperity, roads, bridges and IT centres.

    Indian wisdom and civilisational excellence has always reigned supreme defeating the sword wielders and the controllers of wealth.

    If we win the war of ideas, we shall be richer with both Vidya (wisdom) and Vitta (wealth). But if riches come to us without ideological firmness, nothing would be saved -- neither wealth nor Dharma.

    Tarun Vijay is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

    Tarun Vijay