Business Line
B. S. Raghavan

Evasion, elusiveness, escapism — these are the trade marks of politicians of whatever country. They do not mind tying themselves into knots and behaving in a manifestly slippery and slithery fashion, resorting to ruses and stratagems without hesitation.

You can never pin them down to anything. They will promptly deny any statement that they subsequently find has put them in a spot. It is a matter of no concern or embarrassment for them that they said it in the full view of the world before the video cameras of TV channels.

Of course, those electing them or dealing with them soon realise that it is pointless to put any faith in the promises they make. While these traits are true of politicians world-wide, India's breed can be said to be several steps ahead in improving upon them.


No straight answers


Try getting out of the politician straight answers to straight questions, especially about someone of his own party being caught indulging in corruption.

He has made a fine art of neatly turning it around with a counter-question recalling the misdeeds of some political opponents, as if two wrongs make one right. You ask why some neta is hand in glove with a mining mafia, the answer is another such-and-such neta of another party who is also in cahoots with a similar mafia. Scoundrels and rascals, in his reckoning, invariably belong to other parties.

In short, the Indian politician will never ever admit to any wrongdoing at all either by himself or his party persons. He is always innocent, all allegations against him are ‘politically motivated', and ergo, there is no need for any investigations. All courts of law can be wound up as far as he is concerned!

What makes it easy for the politician literally to get away with murder in his manner is the fact that there is not one party without its share of crooks and MLAs/MPs with criminal antecedents.

In fact, a study of reports released by the National Election Watch discloses that they, on an average, account for 35 per cent, and in UP, out of a total of 403 recently elected MLAs, 143 face criminal charges. Candidates with criminal record fielded by the Samajwadi Party (SP) alone came to 50 per cent.

That party was indeed widely perceived to be harbouring a preponderant proportion of goondas and hoodlums, so much so, the architect of its victory in the recent election, Mr Akhilesh Yadav, was forced to repeatedly give assurances during his election campaign that this time, his party will see to it that its members and workers give no room for complaints of goonda raj and the like that were made against the party when it last formed government.


Scarcely had the first result been announced when the SP workers were involved in accusations of hooliganism and violence. They reportedly went on a rampage in Jhansi and Firozabad, attacking media persons and even the police, demanding that the party candidates who suffered defeat should be declared the winners.

Disturbingly, there have been similar incidents of lawlessness by SP workers from other parts of UP as well. They are putting to the test the credibility of Mr Akhilesh Yadav and his ability to control the anti-social elements within his party.

Mr Akhilesh Yadav is now slated to become the youngest Chief Minister of the State which is perhaps among the most backward in India with a number of mammoth problems left unattended by politicians busy feathering their own nests.

There was universal expectation, from the refreshingly new approach to politics that he displayed during the campaign, that he would be unswervingly committed to UP's progress and development, and regard narrow party interests as secondary.

Regrettably, his reaction to the violence unleashed by his party workers has been the same as what people have been accustomed to hear from old-style politicians: That it was all a deliberate conspiracy of political opponents in order to discredit his party.

It will be a great tragedy for the country if, instead of setting an example in idealism and public service, the younger politicians also go the way of the old ones, adopting the same old escapist ruses to justify their sins of omission and commission.

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