Electioneering is for few days – Statesmanship is forever

(The above is from Obama’s 2008 campaign- keep it simple)

India is a secular democracy. This means that state preaches no religion and people have the right to freedom to almost anything- including following the religion and practices of their choice. However, given the mood and the tone of the current election campaign, all the freedom seems to be vested only with the politicians of all the hue and colour and the people of India, on whom this freedom is bestowed by the constitution, seem to be feeling hapless. In a state as varied and vivid as India, which has plurality of utmost complexity, any effort to polarise people on any particular thought line or philosophy will simply not work except for creating tensions in the social fabric! It didn’t work when Hindi as the official language was intended to be imposed; it didn’t work when certain states decided to go dry by banning liquor; similarly, it will not work if efforts are made to have uniform civil code or beef ban or impose any such unilateral conditionality on the citizens of this country that’s against the spirit of the constitution, drafted by visionaries.

In campaigns during this electioneering, we are coming across the political behaviour of the weirdest kind – from objectionable Modi ki Sena to crass Green virus to downright vulgar Jaya Prada’s khaki panty to asking Muslims to vote en bloc against Modi- these are new lows in the history of election campaigning in India. Supreme Court had to shake the Election Commission out of slumber and EC has now taken action against these culprits.

I admire Modi, for in spite of Gujarat riots, his rightist lineage and very Hindutva philosophy of his party, he, as Prime Minister, has shown a general restraint and his language has remained generally measured. However, the same control he doesn’t seem to have exercised adequately on some his associates. Also, in the heat of the moment of the current election campaign, even he seems to be going overboard occasionally. And the opposition has matched the ruling party in this vilification, even exceeding on occasions!

This once again reminds me of some of the great statesmen that this country has produced – Pt. Nehru (notwithstanding the current smearing campaign against his lineage, actions, decisions, the first PM of free India will always remain dear to this country), Shastri and even Manmohan, but above all Vajpayee, who never treated elections as the beginning and the end of all things! They fought elections on the basis of solid agenda and an inclusive policy. And the result was that while different sections of the society could have been voting en bloc, like they may be doing in the current elections, these statesmen might have won or lost elections, their statesmanship got only enhanced. Instead of character assassination of those who are opposed to your agenda and philosophy, notwithstanding whether the protagonist is dead or alive, the current crop of leader should not forget that elections come and go and they may win or lose a few, but only statesmanship can win the hearts of the countrymen and it is eternal and forever.

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