Nation Current Affairs 05 May 2019 By Invitation: Elect ...

By Invitation: Election 2019- Honour, honesty and democratic hiccup

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | B.S. RAGHAVAN
Published May 5, 2019, 3:43 am IST
Updated May 5, 2019, 3:44 am IST
Honour is a noun that describes the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interaction with US President Donald Trump in 2017
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interaction with US President Donald Trump in 2017

In 1994, Pakistan, backed by the formidable Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, tabled a resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission to condemn India for the alleged human rights violation in Kashmir. The Pakistani Prime Minister of the time, Benazir Bhutto openly declared that her country is prepared “for a thousand years of war” to “free Kashmir”. India’s real Chanakya, P V Narasimha Rao, the 9th Prime Minister of our sovereign democracy, cleverly upended the move. This seasoned Congressman sent a handpicked delegation that comprised members across religious and party lines – it included the Leader of Opposition, Atal Bihari Vajpayee – to the UNHRC at Geneva displaying the strength of India’s unity. He personally garnered international support by convincing OIC members to withdraw their support to Pakistan, resulting in an astounding diplomatic win for India.

Sadly today, we have to live with megalomaniacs, wastefully spending public money on expensive foreign trips that, at best, serve as nothing more than a photo-op; thumping their 56-inch chest in a war cry and shamefully misusing martyred soldiers to feed their political ambitions. Self-styled bigots who have the audacity to call themselves Chanakya dub the megalomaniacs as honourable men, oh! the irony of it!

Let me explain, for it is time someone did.

Honour is a noun that describes the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right. Americans changed its spelling. Indian politicians changed its definition. They can look you in the eye, drop their voice to a conspiratorial whisper and make you believe Hindustan khatre mein hai, for they are honourable men. In their baritone they will declare themselves your saviour, your chowkidar, for they are honourable men. And deliver, they shall; even if only re-packaged UPA policies schemes, whimsical economic policies that consume innocent lives or social reforms that terrorise our society. Turns out honourable men have no ears for your mann ki baat, it’s all about imposing theirs on you.

Let me take you back down memory lane again; this time to 1977 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the newly appointed External Affairs Minister of our country. One morning, he noticed that the portrait of Pandit Nehru that had been hanging on the wall in the passage way by his South Block chamber had been taken down, and expressed his displeasure. Within minutes Panditji was reinstated. In one of his speeches in the Lok Sabha, Atal ji described Jawaharlal Nehru’s integrity and charm as a leader’.

Dushmanee ko [bhi] dawat dete the, he said of Nehru. Here were men who were willing to overcome their differences, conduct themselves with dignity and toil for their motherland. What we are left with today are ‘honourable’ men who will squander thousands of crores on a statue of Sardar Patel, who had he been alive would have strongly disapproved the injudicious flamboyance, when it could have been rightfully purposed to provide basic health and education  for the poor.

These ‘honourable’ men will lie through their teeth about the most petty things; case in point the electrification of rural India. The UPA government had successfully electrified 97% of the villages at a much faster pace than the incumbent BJP did, but we well know who claimed credit. If you are a dissenter and are in the opposition, you dare not raise your voice against the ‘honourable’ men, unless of course you are prepared to welcome IT or ED officials to slap baseless cases on you. You dare not seek the truth. Remember, the injustice meted out to Justice Loya in life and death.  

I have participated in over two dozen elections since my finger was first inked in 1972. When a leader spoke, he had the courage of conviction to act upon it. The highest office in this country has been occupied by many a men, not merely one dynasty, and everyone of them has contributed to India’s growth.

Where would we be without the telecom revolution Rajiv Gandhi engineered, the bold economic reforms Narasimha Rao spearheaded or Atal Vajpayee’s attempts  to strategically place India at the high tables of global power? How does one compare governments, coincidentally all Congress-led regimes, that birthed and nurtured the green, white and IT revolutions with incumbents who spread lies, hatred and fear? The incumbent’s mantra to fool the public is much easier than you think : it is to systematically rewrite public memory. Much like computer malware, once unleashed it corrupts every file in the system. In the absence of an anti-spyware to keep it in check, the system will crash sooner than later.

Democracy cannot persevere in a drying well of trust. The hiccup we face today in Independent India’s history is unlike anything we have witnesses before. India now awaits her Mark Antony. She awaits his climb up the pulpit to pray to Her Friends, Indians and countrymen to lend their ears, to lay bear the truth of the honourable men. This is where the Indian National Congress must rise above itself and its internal party politics to assume the mantle of Mark Anthony. Being the only other party with a national presence, it must take regional parties into confidence to uphold, protect and promote the democratic institutions of this nation. A unified front, that can promises honest governance, will ensure this election will de facto be won on regional issues, finally connecting the common man’s aspirations with the national agenda. The Congress’ aim at this juncture should be to build an indefatigable alliance to call the bluff of the honourable men rather than to race alone to a risky finish line by themselves.
It must march forward with the notion that nation comes first, self interest later. 2024 will certainly be Congress’ if it comes to realize that 2019 is better shared.

B.S. Raghavan is a social and political analyst from Bengaluru. He served under former Karnataka Chief Ministers Devaraj Urs and Ramakrishna Hegde

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