By Raj Kumar Bhatia
With the demise of British raj in 1947, India laun-ched on its march of nation building under its own government. A Constitution was adopted on January 26, 1950 and from 1952 the country started duly voting for its rulers through elections to the Lok Sabha. The fourteenth such election was held recently.
Whenever an election takes place and a certain dispensation takes charge of the government, two distinct moods are seen in the country. Those who have voted for the dispensation feel happy and see a bright future for the country while those who have voted for the other side, feel depressed and see a contrary feeling about country'sfuture. Such a situation can be easily appreciated. After all the electoral verdict and the formation of a government accrue as an outcome of a kind of battle, which obviously must end in some winners and some losers. But if the winners become too elated and the losers sulk too much, then what experience is the country likely to go through? Does not an election end up in confusing and dividing the people and projecting a bright as well as gloomy future of the country at the same time? Then what purpose is achieved by holding elections?
Those who have voted for the dispensation feel happy and see a bright future for the country while those who have voted for the other side, feel depressed and see a contrary feeling about country'sfuture. Such a situation can be easily appreciated.
It is not that all citizens become so divided. At least three sets of people have different feelings. One set comprises of those who remain indifferent or cynical towards the elections and their outcomes. For them this government or that makes no difference. A substantial proportion of the population belongs to this category. The second set is formed by those who do not get much disturbed since they understand the weaknesses and limitations of the government too well. Their expectations remain close to what the government delivers. The third and last set comprises of those who feel concerned about the government and go through the feelings of joy and sadness, but do not make irreconciliatory predictions.
But what about those who make such predictions and sharp divisions arise amongst them, especially when they turn out to be well-meaning, concerned, thinking, enlightened and influential persons of the society? Is it true that we really come across opposite predictions? One has only to experience private and group discussions as well as observe the various debates through media and on public fora. Then what conclusion should one draw from such a scenario? Should the country shelve the elections and bid goodbye to democracy? Does it mean that elections and democracy serve no purpose in the country? Not the least. For paucity of space, it should be sufficient to assert here that elections and democracy are very much needed and they are serving the country well.
An in-depth analysis of the phenomenon of opposite perceptions compels one to conclude that a section of population with such an outlook gets carried away with larger-than-life image of governmental power and places too much faith in the same as far as the progress of the country goes. Not that governmental power carries no importance. It certainly does. The country cannot think of living without a government. Many things, big or small, can be done only by the authority of the government. If nothing else, in the form of the government the country gets the minimum infrastructure of administration without which the country cannot live even for a day. Crucial tasks of law and order and defence, etc. require round-the-clock existence of the govern-ment.
Then why should the gover-nmental power be belittled? Nothing of the sort. Taking cognisance of the governmental limitations does not amount to belittling of the government. India is a vast country with lots of socio-political complexities. One requires a plethora of informations and sound analytical skills to sift the grain from the chaff. Another distinction becomes warranted here. Often well-meaning citizens mix up the two things and live in a make-believe world. They fail in drawing the line between ?what the government can do? and ?what it is likely to do? or between what they wish and what is likely to happen.
No doubt the government can do a lot, but does it mean that those who reach the helm of affairs become automatically committed to that. Our experience of several years indicates to the contrary. Yet quite a few people get deceived by false political posturing. A large number of politicians in India have mastered the art of false image building. Far from reality, they succeed in masquerading as champions of the people'sand country'swelfare.
But why is it that the government does not do what it can or should? For the answer we have to go back to our history. The government started drifting from its desired path from the time when capture of power came to be considered as the act of nation building itself. Power was to be used for self-interest, but was demanded in the name of the progress of the country. It was needed for serving one'sambition but was asked for, for the fulfillment of social service.
The phenomenon of equating power capturing with nation building began distinctly when Smt. Indira Gandhi captured power in the name of ?garibi hatao? campaign in 1971. Once begun, the phenomenon never looked back. For contending parties to power, outsmarting each other with making of false promises became a routine affair. So where does the blame exactly lie? Certainly on Smt. Indira Gandhi herself. Though chicken-hearted and misguided citizens shudder to think on this line, it is impossible to escape from the conclusion since the hard facts point to nobody else. One may like it or not, Smt. Indira Gandhi will go down in history as the master destroyer of democratic institutions and unabashed promoter of personality cult, dynastic and vote-bank politics, false posturing, and winning of elections with fair and foul means, notwithstanding the equal complicity of her party in the guilt.
Till date, the phenomenon knows no stopping. Congress leads in the game and other parties religiously tread on its footprints. The country keeps eagerly awaiting to see the emergence of a genuine, sincere and effective alternative to the Congress politics.
So does it mean that the goal of nation-building will remain captive to the machinations of political powers forever? Not at all. Not for those who have faith in the people'spower and are capable of harnessing the same. People'spower can achieve what the governmental power may not. But even governmental power can be made to feel the pressure of people'spower. At least once the same was done during 1974-75. Though not so visible, people'spower is asserting itself again and again through what is now famously known as the anti-incumbency factor. Therefore, no despondency is warranted.
And it is not warranted at all if one minutely analyses the episode of Smt. Sonia Gandhi withdrawing her claim to the prime ministership of the country. It was people'spower at its zenith. Her sycophants, apologists and pseudo-secular supporters may term her act as that of bravery, renunciation and statesmanship but time will prove that it was people'spower which compelled her to choose that course. Howsoever happy the bootlickers of Gandhi dynasty may be feeling over the entry of Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi in country'spolitics, they will soon find the people'spower showing the door both to the dynasty and to its followers.
It can be fairly predicted that though not so visible and not so easy to appreciate today, India'sdemocracy will, in the course of the next few years, be showing its buoyancy, thus compelling its rulers to become more accountable to the people. And this will happen mainly in reaction to the old trick of Smt. Indira Gandhi being played on the people by her successors under the leadership of her daughter-in-law. So, ironically Smt. Sonia Gandhi as the successor of the family will be made to repay the debt, which Smt. Indira Gandhi owes to the country.
And the people'spower will not stop at that. Hereafter, of whatever hue the governmental dispensation at the Centre may be, it will have to take cognisance of the people'saspirations. The country will thus find both the powers?people'sas well as governmental?taking more care of nation building. The country can be rest assured about its bright future.