India will elect a new government in few weeks. Politics prevails subsuming all else. IPL cricket action has been tossed out of the country to Middle East, South Africa or Bangladesh. Promoters are not too happy as nobody watches cricket with as much zeal as Indians. India’s humungous and illegal satta market is preparing for a busy time ahead with high wagers likely on outcome of elections, new PM, number of seats. The uncertainty, including several dark horses fancying their chance, makes the betting all the more exciting for patrons.

Friends have become enemies or the other way round. Ram Vilas Paswan, who quit the Vajpayee government earlier, is again with BJP, while Misa Bharti, daughter of Lalu Yadav, will take on a “dear’’ uncle in Bihar. Anna Hazare chose to back Mamata Banerjee for PM, only to change his mind shortly thereafter. In Chandigarh, candidates Gul Panag and Kirron Kher, both belonging to the film fraternity have been tweeting potshots at each other by the second. Former cricketer cum comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu is out while the Congress party hopes former India captain Azharuddin will make a difference to its sagging fortunes in Rajasthan.

Given the many political parties including powerful regional outfits, a diverse range of personalities will seek to be India’s new Members of Parliament (MP), a job that today entails little or no work combined with very good perks, salary, apartment or bungalow in New Delhi and other healthy allowances that keep rising at an exponential rate. This is unlike India’s GDP growth or average income levels that have dipped.

Film, sports stars, dynasts, real estate tycoons, journalists, corporate sector executives, retired bureaucrats, Army generals among others are in the fray. Unlike jobs in the country that are scarce, there is no paucity of political space for candidates seeking to contest, given the large number of political outfits in the fray ranging from Congress, BJP, BJD, JD (U), RJD, TMC, DMK, AIADMK, AAP, MNS, Shiv Sena and many more.

I have been reading about individuals with offers to contest from multiple parties. Despite varied backgrounds of MP’s, a few common and unseemly parameters have unfortunately continued to define our elected representatives. The work ethics, for one, is un-inspirational — our feckless MPs scream, shout, assault, fight, break furniture, and walk out a little too often. Parliament is never allowed to conduct normal business. There is hardly any reasonable debate.

In short, our MPs set an example for nobody to follow. Rather, they desperately need to be sent back to classrooms and taught basic decorum. Even the prime time noisy Arnab Goswami news hour is soothing when compared to Parliament proceedings. The MP’s do not have to care about TRP ratings but they behave as if they also do not care for the country.

Too many MP’s also have criminal antecedents and face serious charges such as rape, murder, kidnapping, corruption etc. Studies show most MP’s are much richer than the average Indian and only become wealthier following a stint in Parliament, which means their brains function absolutely fine when pursuing their own progress and selfish ends. They lose it inside the House.

One reason our MPs continue to be uninspiring is due to dominance of few personalities and individuals in India’s political space despite the existence of multiple parties. Unless these leaders change their dictatorial style of functioning, true democracy will not happen.

A handful of politicians Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Mamata, Jayalalithaa, Narendra Modi, Naveen Patnaik, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Mayawati, Arvind Kejriwal, control their respective parties with an iron hand. The second tier of leaders owes their political survival to allegiance and loyalty to their party head, rather than merit or hard work.

In the current incumbency, for example, AK Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde or Salman Khurshid, hold their high ministerial positions due to proximity to the Gandhi family. In Kejriwal’s eyes everybody else, from the media to Modi to Sonia Gandhi, is corrupt and compromised. Those belonging to his chosen coterie, on the other hand, are never wrong. Somnath Bharti seems to be a particular favorite for reasons best known to Kejriwal.

The Modi model of rapid economic growth also involves decimating any potential political threats within the party. He did so in Gujarat and is replicating the same at the national level with erstwhile stalwarts such as LK Advani, Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj, sidelined with little say in crucial party decisions such as distribution of tickets.

Tainted former telecom minister A Raja, meanwhile, has been nominated for elections by the DMK. The party obviously values its own coffers than public money that was looted. Our MP’s need to change for sure; for this to happen, a beginning has to happen from the top.

(Buy my book An Offbeat Story (paperback) here, described by a prominent book critic as one of the most humorous and entertaining reality fiction novel by an Indian writer. Ebook).

Advertisements