Chasm between politics and people

Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma recently levelled some charges against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Verma even said that Yadav has links with terrorists. Either Verma has valid reasons to level the charges against Yadav or he indulged in wild mudslinging. But Verma’s allegations against Yadav are so serious that the matter should not be allowed to die with the apology Verma has tendered. After all, it is not some roadside crank who has made the charges. The accusations have been made by a union minister. What ground did Verma have to make the charges? If he made the charges on the basis of any evidence or proof, the matter should be taken up from there and probed further. If he made the charges without any basis, it is grossly dishonourable and irresponsible conduct and Verma should be held accountable for it by being made to leave the cabinet. After all, Yadav is an important leader of India who has played and is still discharging vital roles in Indian politics.

It is common for somebody in a crucial role to make serious charges against somebody of substance and the matter just bounces in the media among leading players and then dies. It is an alarming situation. After all, words are worth something and the words of important leaders are worth a lot. At least they should be worth a lot.

There is an interesting parallel between the cricket field during big matches and the political arena. A friend who has worked as photo editor of leading magazines told me that he stations himself with his camera close to the boundary line and thus is quite in the thick of action during matches. I asked him whether the huge noise continuously made by thousands of people in the stadium affects the players. For instance, watching crowds scream ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ on my TV while Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in full swing with the bat made me think that this cry reaching Dhoni could in some way affect his play. But my photographer friend, who had covered many matches from the boundary line, said that the huge sound of thousands of people becomes like a wall of sound around the playing arena. Cries directed at a particular player reach him but he can choose to not get affected by it. As a result, he said, the game continues independent of the sound people in the stadium make. All someone in the playfield can make of the noise is a huge sound happening all the time. He can only be indifferent to it because almost all the time he cannot make anything out in the sound.

I sometimes feel our political masters carry on their games of politics in the same manner. The people of the country keep on commentating on their games at public and private places, but except in cases of public activism, their criticism does not even reach the politicians, leave alone register on them. Politicians carry on with their politicking independent of the opinion of people. The result is that once politicians win elections and reach key positions, there is no public auditing and appraisal of their work. The opinion of the people should matter all through the term in power of a politician, but it does not. Politicians are in no way accountable to the people who give them power. Most of the time, their conduct is guided solely by the all-consuming urge to retain or grab power. So a Beni Prasad Verma can make grave charges against a person who is crucial in politics. When things become too hot for Beni
in realpolitik, he offers an apology that is meant to end the issue. Is that all to it? What about the people of India? What are they to make of all this? Don’t they have the right to know the truth behind all this?

An apology to Yadav is not enough to end this matter. The people have a right to know who is what. If Verma’s charge that Yadav has links with terrorists is correct, it has ramifications for the life of the people of the country. But the voice and demands of the people are just like the wall of noise that surrounds a game of cricket, with the players carrying on with their play independent of it.

The matter does not end even if Verma’s apology satisfies Yadav. For somewhere in the midst of all this we, the people of India, are involved in this affair. The people have made Verma an MP and a minister and Yadav an important person. Both Verma and Yadav are ultimately answerable to the people of India. Their fight is not a fight between two private parties that can end on a personal note. It is a public affair and the people need to be told what is behind it. The people need to be told what lurks beneath all the games of politics. This is not cricket. This is a much more crucial game involving we, the people of India, a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic.

The author is a senior journalist and columnist

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