By Tarlochan Singh
The Congress, which is the oldest party and stood for India'sIndependence, failed badly. In fact it is responsible for the division of the country, killing of more than half a million innocent people and migration of lakhs of people. But, it still harps on an ideology of development and unity of the country, poverty alleviation, etc. By watching the parties for years my own experience in the National Commission for Minorities has been that the parties now look only towards how to garner more votes. I feel it is the Congress party today that 18can be fully held responsible for introducing vote-bank politics in India. Wherever we go, we feel it. During every election, the religious issues are exploited.
Since 1952 when the country had the first general elections and with now having more political parties especially at the regional level in every election whether it is for the Parliament or for State Assembly, we have seen erosion of old principles on which the political parties were founded.
Today every political party tries to create a fear of ?psychosis? among the minorities and create a sense of insecurity among them, which is not good for India. Political parties have been telling the minorities that we are your saviour. They create imaginary enemies and tell the minorities that against those enemies we are your friends. What sort of ideology is this? All the national parties have failed to keep the principles or goals on which they were founded. They have just one-point agenda, achieve the chair of power by hook or by crook.
Take the example of my own state, Punjab. The Akali Dal was basically a Sikh party. Their aim was that Sikhs should be fully protected in every field and they should see to it that the Sikh faith maintains its separate identity and follows its principles truly. The moment the Akalis came to power, they left this ideology. They never even thought what is their duty towards Sikhism or Sikhs.
What is the logic or ideology behind the alliance between the Congress and Deve Gowda? On what principles was it created? Nothing, except to get the power. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, the parties are only interested to get votes and their agenda to serve the people is missing.
The second strong party in Punjab is the Congress. Although it has a national agenda, in Punjab its only aim is to get Sikh votes. I feel every Sikh Chief Minister of Congress has tried to communalise Punjab. They went ahead of Akalis to show that they are true Sikhs and in this way they even encouraged the anti-India groups. The Congress has also been embracing them with a view to harming the Akalis. So, to harm Akalis, they encouraged those who can do harm to the country and ultimately harm the Sikh community. Even today, the Punjab government is fully supporting the Punjab Congress Party and both the state government and the state unit of Congress are out to finish the Akalis without realising that this will damage Punjab and the Sikh community. They have again started indulging in vote-bank politics.
I have been watching the political parties in every state. See Karnataka, what is the logic or ideology behind the alliance between the Congress and Deve Gowda? On what principles was it created? Nothing, except to get the power. Similarly in Uttar Pradesh, the parties are only interested to get votes and their agenda to serve the people is missing. What happened in Bihar during the last 15 years ? The entire system there was for dividing the society on communal or caste basis. If the one-point agenda is only to encourage a particular caste, where is the ideology or the principle on which the political parties are working?
I am of the view that there should be an all India consensus among countrymen regarding the principles on which the political parties should work. If the elected party is not answerable to the people or is not committed to its ideology, what is the fun of having them in position? There should be some clauses where the government, the Election Commission or the people should force the parties to follow their ideology.
Ideology does not mean the ideology to divide the country or to have caste factions. The ideology means keep high principles of progress, help poor people and maintain India'sheritage, i.e. secularism, sarvadharmasambhav and respect every religion. No political party or religion in India can say that we are against this. We must keep in mind that no religion is superior or inferior. Keeping in view the unity of the country, no religion should be allowed to add more numbers, i.e. converts to its religion. It should be mandatory for all religions that for the next 20-30 years nobody will try to add numbers in his community. All political parties should come out on some of these agendas and an ideology should be the base.
Such agendas should come before the general elections and all political parties including national or regional, should stand by it. There should also be a people'sforum to ask them or to debate on these issues. Such meetings or debates should be held at least six months before the elections.
There should be an all India consensus among countrymen regarding the principles on which the political parties should work. If the elected party is not answerable to the people or is not committed to its ideology, what is the fun of having them in position?
Let the leaders commit in the public and then see whether they follow it or not. In America and other countries, we see such debates. It is only in India that there is no debate on issues and everyone seems to damage the reputation of his opponent by hook or by crook. The people'sforum should be at every village level. After all people are the masters. Why don'tthey unite and come up.
Without ideology we are going into dark. This may lead to chaos in the country and ultimately all our goals of achieving economic benefit and moral upliftment may not be achieved. Ideology cannot be sidelined.
(The author is Chairman, National Commission for Minorities.)