Why do Politicians play politics ?

M.Ramdas

Perhaps that is a foolish question on my part.

What else can one expect them to do? Of course, playing politics means a wide spectrum of foul deeds – horse-trading, receiving and offering money on the sly, promoting a worthless relative or business partner, lying through the back teeth in front of the press and in the legislature, jumping from party to party to safeguard the seat of power at all costs or sitting resolutely on the wall when the situation calls for it.

Corruption or feathering one’s nest did not occur to the statesmen of yore. Nehru and Patel were schooled by Mahatma Gandhi and busied themselves with nation-building after Independence. Not for them nepotism or money-making. Lal Bahadur Shastri, to give another shining example, revealed his sincerity and stature by promptly resigning as Railways Minister after a serious rail accident.

How do modern, so-called leaders fare in comparison? Narendra Modi, because he was supposedly not directly involved in the horrendous religious riots, chose not to resign as Gujarat Chief Minister and thus take moral responsibility for the mayhem. He stuck to his seat even after Vajpayee suggested that he should step down!

A promise of an important portfolio or a sizable amount to a key person is a usual day at the office for horse traders. Plotting and scheming or the basest kind of thuggery comes naturally. This explains why a senior MP chose to let off stinging pepper spray to make his point in the Lok Sabha  while some MLAs got together to view pornography in the hallowed Karnataka Assembly’s hallowed precincts.

What then is the remedy? How can we concerned members of society clean the stinking garbage? Perhaps some good can came out of strictly barring candidates with a criminal background or those who are totally uneducated. Another step in the right direction would be to have men and women with impeccable character to head sensitive watchdog organizations like CBI, CAG and so on. Also the media should be given wider powers to uncover the muck that lies beneath.

One thing is clear: a good man who enters politics with the lofty aim of sweeping it lean will be compromised soon. Even if you are above reproach, you jolly well have to defend an earring colleague who actually deserves to be shunted out.

What happened to Manmohan Singh? He was a highly respected economist and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission to boot. Once he was catapaulted into politics, it spelt his doom to his image. Just as Modi looks the other way when his eccentric MPs shoot of their mouths at regular intervals.

Finally, who can forget Narayan Dutt Tiwari, veteran Congressman, former Chief Minister and Governor and at one time tipped to be the Prime Minister of the country. He continued with his wild escapades even while holding office in his seventies. He also fathered a son whom he continued to disown over the decades, till a DNA test ‘caught him red-handed’!

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