Is not India on the move?(Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal)
Is not India on the move?
India claims that it is a secular democracy and a welfare society and it takes care of minority interests as well. In essence, however, India reflects a different culture altogether. Although factors like religion, caste and money dominate Indian "secular-cum-democratic" politics, non-issues like anti-Muslimism, Babri Mosque, anti-Islamism and anti-Pakistanism have broadly guided the special policies of the country so that domestic Muslims are kept under constant “check” by denying what is legitimately their due in national development. With the advent of coalition politics in India, where many parties join the ruling front, earlier ideological differences have become muted in favor of resource-cum-profit sharing without addressing the genuine concerns of the masses, particularly the Muslims. Corruption therefore has become a multi-party phenomenon.
Crime and corruption go on, in spite of the continued harping on issues like “terrorism” and “cross-border-terrorism”. The parties and their leaders make as much fortunes as they can by diverting the national attention to such and by projecting the Muslims as “rogues and criminals”. Thus the coffers of the parties, both national and regional, have been bulging with assets, movable as well as immovable, while the “profits’ being made by the politicians at individual levels for their 'services’ keep rising continually. The amount being taken toward “service charges” by the politicians and bureaucrats “concerned” for a job or a seat in specialized education seems to be quite exorbitant.But no one seems to be bothered about that any where.
Not only most of the resources are shared by a select few, even the most of the AID/Loans received by India has been swallowed by them only. Apart from wealth, special privileges being enjoyed by the politicians of both ruling and opposition parties encourage more and more people to enter politics. It is no fresh news that many "patriots" have entered major political parties in India with a view to safe-guarding and advancing their wealth. It is of anybody’s guess how much land and resources have been swindled by the politicians and bureaucrats in the country, while lecturing on Indian-ness, democratic values and secularism.
In Kerala state it has come to the notice of the officials only very recently that various lobbies have “acquired” the government land, set up their own enterprises and enjoy the fruits of development all by themselves. Kerala is not an exceptional case any way; this fact could be easily generalized to include every Indian state in malpractices. Other states just keep mum about that aspect, primarily because the politicians and their associates have swindled the state properties worth millions of rupees. When other states have not even bothered to attempt at least a mock exercise in exposing the illegal state land acquirings by "special" people, the Hindi belt, the heart-land of rampant corruption and crime, would never go for that, because most of the politicians and their "protectors" have amazed huge wealth even by using the trends of "terrorism, anti-Islamism and anti-Pakistanism".
The Congress party having got more Members of Parliament in the camp has made its own person as the Prime-minister and refused to let the post rotate among the partners. If the UPA, had decided to have the CM rotated among the leaders of the coalition constituents, the Lefts, perhaps, would have also joined the government just as they have opted for the Speaker-ship of the Parliament. There are qualified leaders among the coalition partners eying for the top political chair of the county. Since each is busy with making as much “profit” as it’s possible during the term of the Parliament, they don’t pester for that post with the unwilling senior partner, the Congress party.
The most interesting platform to day is the Left front. The Communist parties behave just like any other party in the country, having lost their own program and policies to justify their existence. Even in states where they rule, the people elect them not for what they stand for, but for other reasons, including non-performance of other parties. So much so, it appears, people would continue to vote even when the parties change their programs totally. Lending support from outside to the otherwise minority the Congress-led UPA central government under the "strategic partnership" forged between them, the Left parties tend to accommodate each other's concerns in a tactful way. As the Lefts support the Congress nominee for the President's post, Congress is expected to give up the Vice-President’s chair to the Left wings as a mark of gratitude. As they support the Congress nominee for the Presidential nominee, they had some expectations that the Vice-President would be a Leftist. But now it appears they don’t press for that, or the Congress has objected to a communist as being the country’s Vice-President.
However there seems to be a rift between the tow segments with CPM (Communist Party of India-Marxist), warning the government not to take the support of the Left parties for granted and not to deviate from the Common Minimum Program (CMP), agreed upon by both at the time of the ministry formation at the Center, though they know very well that the UPA government has indeed taken all MPs and senior leaders from the Left front, including the Speaker of Parliament who is a communist MP, for granted and float the CMP quite conveniently. The Congress party knows too well as to how to deal with the Leftists in a given situation by playing upon their supposed “weaknesses”. The CPI has re-iterated that the Communists would review their support the UPA government after the polls for President and Deputy. But one does not know if the Leftists raise the issue of "deviation" when they have some other difficulty or issue, vital for the party’s functioning and benefits, dealing with the Government. And the media generally don't try to reveal the actual causes of friction, whether in the appointment of governors and other important positions where the suggestions are not heeded by the government. In that case the government is not obliged or supposed to listen to others.
Recent "understanding' reached between the “strategic partners” Congress and the Leftists to kick President Dr. Abdul Kalam from the office by denying him another term is a clear message as to how the Congress, otherwise unwilling to appoint a Muslim to the Presidential chair, has now happily fielded its own “secular” candidate by accepting the suggestions of the Leftists for the Presidential post. Decades ago, after President Fakruddin Ahmed's death, Congress systematically avoided a Muslim nomination for the post. (Whether or not he was poisoned for not "listening" to the bosses is not the matter here. But, it was rumored that President Ahmed was poisoned for refusing to accept the then Government's dictates, thereby refusing to be an automatic rubber-stamp and this accusation cannot be proved now.) Perhaps, “Fantastic" Kalam also refused to be an instant rubber-stamp of the Prime-minister/government. Unless these parties retraced their awkward steps, Kalam has no other option but to return; to resume his sermons, including on: Pains of double-kick "and "Horrors of Indian secularism" as well. He may have gained sufficient experience to discuss the issues at length.
The Central government, run by UPA coalition, today is composed of many regional and national parties of all possible combinations, while the Left wing parties extend support from "outside". Each coalition partner in the UPA government is free to function the way they want and the prime-minister seemingly too busy with too many things at he same has no time or desire to control the partners, thereby allowing the each to make as much wealth and fortunes as it is feasible during the term periods. The only conditions from the prime-minister seem to be: "You all have full freedom to "operate" as you please, don't disturb me. Do what you want, but do take care of "our" media guys too. Keep them busy with “terrorism and “Pakistan.” See that they don't oppose our "national interests". I don't want to hear any complaint from any quarters, you know. We must make use of the golden opportunity available now without any commitment to any one. Please function freely and enjoy".
The crux of the issue is that parties win elections even doing nothing for the people.Elections in the country are treated as a necessity as a democratic mechanism to “catch” power in order to pursue the individual interests. Poll campaigns financed by big business houses focus on anti-incumbency and negative portrayal of opponents in electoral campaigns—and not positive appraisal of one’s achievements-- characterize the poll scenes at national and regional levels. By the method of mud-slinging the voters are so sufficiently confused that they become indecisive about their choices and finally vote for the sake of others and thus uphold their democratic right. Winners in the poll, therefore, are not necessarily the best choices of the electorates. Nor the voting a party to power by the people thus is automatically their approval of the policies of the party or the coalition concerned.
Coalition politics has come to stay in India at least for unforeseen future. The era of coalition governance has also cast damage to the welfare of common people. Not only democracy and welfare of people are given a goodbye in coalition regime, but even the "interests' of coalition partners is not respected by the main party in such arrangement.(When in Jammu & Kashmir where the PDP party had faired well, Congress demanded Chief-minister ship and and finally forced a formula of rotation of the post among the two coalition partners, it is totally silent about that partnership at the Centre where there is a coalition government in place). Personality clashes have given rise to mushrooming of parties in countries like India where power, money and profit motivate the people to enter politics. The government thus functions according to a plan accepted by the coalition partners in the government. Generally the party that has mustered largest number of seats to either State Assembly or Parliament stakes claim to be the head of the government. While the chief-ministership is rotated among the partners the Prime-minister’s post remain with the largest party. But sharing the resources makes the partners fairly happy with what they have and not having got the plum post of Premier or chief-minister.
One thing is certain. The slow-peddling by the Leftists in stopping the Congress-led government from implementing its own agenda instead of CMP could be explained by the confidence they have in the continued support of people they receive as the Communists won the recent elections in states like West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, the catchment areas of the left front parties, defeating the Congress led parties. But the election reversals or victories don't necessarily reflect the political undercurrents in elections and the popular votes as such cannot be taken for their acceptance of Left support for the Congress-led government at the Centre. Mostly it is either anti-incumbency factor or the anti-Congressism that help the Leftists come to power. Certainly people have not been convinced about any of the policies of the Communist parties being pursued in the country. The last statement of CPM that the UPA government would not be destabilized would be music to the ears of ruling coalition parties that are busy making quick fortunes.
Needless to add, under today’s “terrorism” epoch, the position of common Muslims has become more vulnerable and pathetic. Muslims are used as a powerful weapon for advancing the narrow economic interests of the politicians and bureaucrats. Vote bank politics makes the Muslims also to exercise their franchise, keep the political process in full swing. Politics continues even if the Muslims don’t participate in it. One finds the appalling the efforts of the Indian media to promote the agenda of the policy makers in New Delhi and other state capitals to kick the Muslims as hard as it is possible by promoting the interests of “main” groups with actions of nepotism, vengeance.
Since corruption is an all-party affair, the worst sufferers are obviously the common people, especially the Muslim poor. The attitude of the bureaucracy has permitted the lower rung employees to misbehave with commoners, especially the Muslims. The so-called Muslim leaders serving in various parties betray the Muslims for money and other services. As the top bureaucrats and politicians are busy making fortunes and helping their own people, the conditions prevailing in the society have become more deteriorating. Irrespective of the state, the employees ill-treat the Muslims in public and the public generally takes side with their “own” people. Not only abusive language, but even thrashing adore such scenes in buses and trains and markets.
India would discover still more non-issues to keep corruption as a hidden agenda of the powerful lobbies. For majority of Muslims, both the Congress and BJP are equally dangerous to them and that needs no elaboration. It is a fact that the Muslims get selectively victimized even by the governments by Congress party. The BJP-led coalition was in power at the Centre and it did not behave worse than the Congress with regard to "appeasement policies". Nor were they free from practices of corruption, fraud and crime -- a feature Indian politics that makes the BJP equal to the Congress. The Congress governments promote the very sections that are favored by the BJP as well. Then, in what way is the BJP or any other party worse than the Congress? One can safely conclude that corruption plus nepotism is one another area that brings India closer to all other so-called democracies of the world, including USA.
True, under the BJP regime, the Muslims were in constant fear and under threat of dangerous arson. For this, all parties in the country, including the Congress that are keen to use the Muslims only as a reliable vote bank, are at fault. Common man, including among the Muslims, no more trusts the parties across the political spectrum, but their empty promises and hollow smiles, however, do get the votes to be in power. Common Muslim, similarly, has no hopes either for the present or for the future, except that they can also, so long as the anti-Islamic forces among the majority people don't raise any objections, feel proud of the fact that the Taj Mahal, the eternal love monument of Mogul cultural heritage created by the Mogul empire and one among the world’s wonders of the day.
DR.ABDUL RUFF Colachal