Wednesday, December 3, 2008

** Why blame politicians?

Why blame politicians?
S. Gurumurthy

Let the incensed elite look within and find faults

A fallout of the jihadi attack on Mumbai is the huge outrage sweeping through the nation. While this anger is understandable, given the way the present ruling politicians have handled the issue of national security, what is intriguing is that the hate campaign is directed against politicians as a class. Most 24x7 news channels are ceaselessly and systematically feeding this hate. It is ‘Page Three’ personalities, particularly in Mumbai, who star in this campaign.

Most Indians would not even know what ‘Page Three’ personalities means. They are the partying type, mostly found in restaurants in five-star hotels. They are so called because once upon a time pictures of them and their parties would appear on page three of tabloids. Now they are all over the media, with many newspapers sometimes celebrating them with front page coverage.

When in the past several terror attacks took place and hundreds of people died, there was public outcry against terror. But the media never ceaselessly telecast or printed their outrage as it is doing now. What is the difference this time? This time around ‘Page Three’ celebrities are the protesters. This class had never imagined that terror would ever touch them. Now that their world has been hit, the ‘Page Three’ personalities are terribly angry.

How is this class positioned in our polity? It talks about democracy but does not vote. It talks against corruption, but does not fight it. It talks of high values but follows a lifestyle that hardly support these values. Now they are the ones anchoring the national debate on the right and wrong of politicians. Examine how dangerous this is.

Politicians are the products of elections. And elections do not yield quality leadership. For example, a Ramakrishna Paramahansa could not have found a Vivekananda in a Narendra through ballots from his co-disciples. It cannot be that democracy is good but elections are bad, as there can be no democracy without elections.

Elected politicians form the backbone of democracy. If they manipulate people, it is the duty of the elite to educate the people to be vigilant.

How many ‘Page Three’ personalities have taken to educating the people to make right choices? So their anger against politicians is because their world has been disturbed. If they feel so outraged now, what where they doing when trains and markets were being targeted by terrorists, killing and maiming ordinary people?

Now come to their targets, the politicians. Politicians are the easiest target of the elite. But in this country they are the only ones who are open to scrutiny — as to what they say or do. No one can scrutinise, say, the judges. The scrutiniser will go to jail. No one in his senses can talk against the media. Only politicians are easy subjects for cartoons or hate. But this time around, the campaign that is on after the Mumbai terror strike is not just the eruption of pent up apathy towards the politicians. It is something more.

The Mumbai terror has exposed the ruling parties at the Centre and in Maharashtra like no other act of terror has done before. The reason is self-evident.

It has touched the chattering classes who form the backbone of the ‘secular’ class. The anger of this class cannot be directed against the ‘secular’ political parties that run the country today as that would shift balance of advantage to the ‘non-secular’ Opposition. So the present rulers need to be protected. Result, the anger is intentionally directed against the political class as a whole.

Thus, this campaign against the political class as a whole conceals the real intention behind it, namely to protect the ‘secular’ Governments at the Centre and in the State which had intelligence inputs about the Mumbai terror attack via sea route but did nothing to act on them, whatever the reason for their inaction.

Portraying the entire political class as hate objects protects the ruling parties against public retribution. The present rulers had repealed the anti-terror law in India when the whole democratic world was enacting such laws against terrorism. The terror attacks multiplied in numbers under the rule of the present Government. So blaming the entire political spectrum bails out the culprits ruling India today. The Page Three icons and the media seem to be on this joint enterprise to wash off the sins of the ruling party and its leadership by targeting the political class as a whole.

Take this process to its logical conclusion. The hate against the ruling parties is being universalised thus as anger against the entire political class. Compare this anger against the politicians with how the ordinary people raised patriotic slogans, “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata ki jai” when the NSG and Army commandos successfully vanquished the terrorists and again when the funeral of the slain ATS, NSG and Army fighters was taking place. Admiration for the Army coupled with hate for political class is dangerous to democracy.

In a democracy, it is necessary to let the public anger correct the ruling party that is at fault. The rulers must pay for their fault. They should not be allowed to escape punishment for their mistakes by joining the crowd of hated politicians. There is a lesson for the Opposition also; that is if it comes to power, it would be treated no differently.