Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vote for Character, not for Party

We are in the midst of elections, the so-called 'democratic' process that will cost the country over Rs. 10,000 crore from its white coffers plus many times more from the black hoardings of most of the Parties and candidates. The process involves large scale movement and deployment of paramilitary forces and polling staff across the country to conduct the world’s biggest democratic exercise. And yet, in spite of continual reforms, the entry of criminals in Parliament and state legislatures has been gradually going up. No wonder today we do not have leaders who could envision higher national goals that would assign newer global roles for India. Look around and you will find them carrying mud slings and jars of caste, communal venom instead of ideologies, issues, plans and solutions.The political environment has become so murky that regional parties lose no time in shifting sides and loyalties of political affiliation for petty gains in their run up to the elections. Come May 16 and you will see these bitterly defiant constituents of their erstwhile alliances utterly pliable to join their would-be alliances and parties they had vowed to wipe out. The present day breed of politicians is immune to call of conscience or guilt of unethical practice.No anti-defection law applies to a Party leaving its 'Front' or 'Alliance' and joining any other or forming yet another 'Front'.At the time of JMM scandal (to save the Narsimha Rao government), individual rates of MPs were in lakhs. Even subsequently there were some who could oblige you just for a few thousand – remember ‘cash-for-question’ scandal? Today, these rates have escalated to crores. Politics is no longer a public service activity; it has become the most paying profession today unaffected by the all pervasive economic recession. Their interests are limited to self serving gratifications, perks and power. Their vision is limited to the tip of their nose. Even at the time of elections when there must be hot animated discussions, debates on vital national issues, our Parties are not touching vital issues like national security, terrorism, economic slowdown, delinquent and inefficient bureaucracy, falling morale of the Armed Forces, on-going sacrifices of soldiers fighting the never ending terror war that is fast spreading in all corners of the country. All Parties are busy using and abusing each other keeping only their safe-lanes open to cross over for subsequent bargains.Party based politics has therefore become a curse for the country. There is a need for an urgent change. Yes, please do not give in to pessimism so easily; we can change it. What is already available for the first time in these elections is a much larger number of younger and relatively more enlightened electorate who are keen to see improvement in the quality of governance.Middle class that used to be generally indifferent towards elections is also getting visibly sensitised and will rise to vote in larger number. Serving soldiers will also be voting for the first time at places of their duty. A good part of awakened electorate is already well poised to bring about the change.Today, only the sterling leadership qualities like character, discipline, moral courage and sincerity are missing in most of our leaders. But it is not that India does not have candidates packed with these positive leadership qualities. Unfortunately, their unblemished character itself becomes an impediment in getting them a 'ticket' from the Political Parties who prefer only those candidates who can show their muscle or money or both! This election, therefore, let's vow to forget about the Political Parties - big or small. Look for the right INDIVIDUAL in your constituency and vote for him irrespective of which party, caste or religion he/she belongs. Let's do all we can to garner votes for CANDIDATES OF GREAT CHARACTER. If there is none acceptable in the field, vote for whosoever is a shade better among the bad lot because exercising your option under rule 49(O) of The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 is not likely to have desired effect in its present form. At the same time let's also do everything in our power to identify and defeat the criminal, corrupt contestants no matter which Party, caste or religion he belongs to. Use e-mail, SMS, phone, direct talk, relay messages to mobilise people’s support in favour of the fittest candidate of exemplary character.Now, this voting style will not change the colour of the incoming Lok Sabha drastically. But as an enlightened Electorate if we can defeat even 4 to 5 notorious criminals, it will send across a strong positive message that 'muscle power and money power' can be defeated. The Parties will also learn a lesson and 'Quality' will gradually become a winnability factor in future elections. More importantly, since every malady eg: terrorism, corruption, economic slow down and so on have repercussions on national security, only leaders dedicated to the national Cause will restore the lost honour and status of this nation's impoverished Armed Forces. If each one of us vows to garner a minimum of 20 votes for a real good candidate, the ripple effect will have enormous effect. If we all set the ball rolling now, it can snowball into a big enough mass that may trigger an avalanche!All we now require is to start our own campaign now. Let ego never be an issue in such a noble cause. Let’s not wait whether the candidate of our choice has approached us asking for vote and support or not.We must commence our effort in all sincerity now because it will help all of us immensely.