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More than leaders, voters need to mend their ways

Dr. Udit Raj

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Nearly a decade ago, it was considered to be in the domain of politicians to provide transparency in politics but now it is no more like that. It is a fact that corruption started from the top and percolated to the lower levels and gradually the public also became a part and parcel of this process. Due to a feudalistic society and lack of means, politics and bureaucracy attract everybody as these can provide both money and political power. These two attributes cannot easily be acquired through other activities like Agriculture, Art, Trade, Education and other fields. This is precisely the reason that people are attracted towards politics. Politicians want to win elections by hook or by crook. Now, if some politicians want to adopt fair means in politics, they are marginalized. It is more so in election politics, where it is difficult to overcome the evils of liquour, money, incentives, caste and religious equations. It is true that the electorate appreciates the honest politicians but when it comes to voting, they back out. At the end of the anti-corruption campaign at Jantar Mantar, Anna Hazare had rightly said that if he contested elections, he would miserably lose and forfeit his security deposit.

Elections are due to be held in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur. It is again being discussed hotly that in the cesspool of politics, all are exposed. Honesty and fairness are totally lacking in politicians. BJP has suffered a serious setback after allowing Babu Singh Kushwaha to join the party. Usually, people consider politicians as corrupt, opportunists, casteist and communalist. The interesting thing is that even when there is an honest and straightforward politician committed to their welfare, people do not support him. Maybe they appreciate the commitment of such an honest politician, but reject him on the ground that he does not have a sufficient vote base of the people belonging to his caste. BJP's existence is because of the Vaishya vote bank and Samajvadi party's survival is on account of its backward and Muslim vote bank. Similarly, BSP is thriving because of the Dalit vote bank and all other parties have come into existence because of their caste and religious base. Due to lack of resources and money power, the honest politicians find it difficult to muster the support of workers on a large scale and that of the Media. Not that honest, intellectual and development-oriented people are not contesting elections but due to the above-mentioned mind-set of the voters, they do not get votes and on the other hand become an object of mockery. I have also founded one political party called Indian Justice Party. Basically, my influence is social in nature and that too because of the impact of the employees and officers of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations, the biggest organization of its kind in the country. Most of the enlightened people in the country are fully aware of my struggle and views and to a great extent even the common people are aware of my activities but in the absence of black money & muscle power and on account of caste-less politics, I become helpless. My politics finds favour with many people but I am not able to convert them into votes. Unfortunately I cannot fulfill the conditions for catching votes and even if I get an opportunity to fulfill those conditions, I shall not resort to those tactics on moral grounds.

The urban middle class, to a great extent, is not aware of the reality in the rural areas. A single vote is purchased for as much as Rs. 1000. Some people were carrying crores of rupees for this purpose and were also apprehended by the Election Commission. It is really frustrating as to why people vote for communal, casteist and semi-literate people or people who are just plain musclemen, but it is also a fact that the percentage of votes cast by these very people is the minimum. They do not hesitate to commit economic crimes if they get an opportunity. Particularly, most of the traders, whenever they get an opportunity, do not hesitate at all to commit economic offences like income tax evasion, octroi duty and electricity tariff evasion and over-invoicing. It is because of the black money generated by these economic offenses that politics of the country is being run on a national level. The very same middle class has been the back-bone of the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare. If all the politicians and bureaucrats are removed from their seats and are included in any anti-corruption campaign, it is most likely that no significant change will take place in bureaucracy and the political class. All in all, it can be said safely that whosoever gets the opportunity will not hesitate to misuse power and public money. People who do not get this chance criticize corrupt bureaucrats and politicians only out of jealousy.

Black money is being seized at so many places because of the alertness of the Election Commission. If people do not sell their votes for liquour and other incentives, there is no reason why honest people will not get elected in elections. Right from the day we got Independence to the eighties, corruption has percolated from top to the bottom. Now when it has spread at the ground level so extensively, it is quite likely that whosoever tries to root out corruption at this level from the top, will himself lose his existence. Solution of this gargantuan problem is not so easy as the ball is now in people's court. Some people are looking at an ideal situation in which all the political parties may jointly take a decision that no political party shall field criminal or unscrupulous candidates in the elections or admit such persons in their parties. This scenario is just not possible because all the political parties want to grab political power somehow or the other. When the political parties or their leaders are not in a position to take such a decision, the only alternative left is that a people's movement is started for this purpose so that a viable solution may emerge.

Casteism is a part of our social system and it is but natural that it finds a place in politics. I had also told the Anna Team that their anti-corruption campaign will not be successful unless there is proper appreciation of the social milieu in which we are living. Nearly ten years back, when I used to say that people at large have also become corrupt and selfish, then the urban intelligentsia and particularly the leftists did not agree with me but now they have started realizing that there is some truth in my contention. Unless we check corruption in the corporate sector, it is not possible to rein in the bureaucracy and the political class on this front. The common people are frustrated with the present political set up in the country. Those who are suffering have to find a remedy to cure themselves. The political class will not like to change an existing system which is to their advantage. The people at large will have to forgo momentary and short term gains which alone shall bring a change in the political system. Side by side, efforts should be made to put an end to the caste system. On the face of it, caste system may not appear to have any link with the current state of affairs in the country but actually it is deeply inter-linked because it is on account of the caste system that the society becomes selfish and self-centred. At any given time, a person's mind-set, emotional attachment and commitment revolve around his caste. So, naturally his commitment and a sense of responsibility towards the society gets diluted. Under these circumstances, he will not hesitate to indulge in corruption. Now it is up to the public to improve this situation which has deteriorated to a great extent.

- Dr. Udit Raj

National Chairman, All Inda Confederation of SC/ST Organizations,

& Indian Justice Party,

T-22, Atul Grove Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi-110001.

Tel: 011-23354841, 23354842

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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