Political leaders and ideological commitment
Transition and change are permanent features of the political landscape in any democracy.
Transition and change are permanent features of the political landscape in any democracy. But what is of enduring value is the ideological commitment of the leaders belonging to different political hues.
Governments may come and go, but the real defining feature of a political system is the commitment of the leaders to the party's political ideology and remaining anchored in their ideological moorings.
Sadly, that seems to be under stress, with the leaders taking to party-hopping, with little or no regard to political ideology.
Politics of change is not new in world history. The world has witnessed several changes that turned the tables and reversed the fortunes of individuals overnight and well-established governments have been routed, nationally and internationally. Our own Telugu State is no exception. Never underestimate the power of the people and drive them to the dead end of democracy.
India is becoming home ground for such politics of change, with the emergence of regional and sub-regional parties, with allurements of lollypops, promising power, positions and what not? Even some of the national parties may not be an exception to this exercise.
It is paradoxical that the manner in which changes are taking place is nothing short of opportunism, for selfish political gain. Indeed, this is quite unethical and unbecoming for a leader in public life.
No doubt, change is constant and change is inevitable. One has to accept any social and economic change, environmental change, change in managements, technologies and other changes that influence and impact not only the mankind but also other living species in the world of nature.
Just as in rainy season, new and fresh water gets into a river and washes out the old, but there is short transition time during which mixture of old and new takes place. Similarly, any such transition during a change evokes several compositions.
However, the physical and the chemical composition of the water does not change, which is natural.
It is quite disgusting for a political thinker to note the current trends in politics – one feels alarmed to watch these self-styled leaders – jumping from one political party to the other, showing utter disregard to one's own political ideology, disloyal to the leadership and last but not the least, total disrespect to the electorate, flouting the promises made.
Once after attending a social gathering at a function hall, we were all leaving the place along with a a senior leader, who decorated himself with a regional party flag and was getting into a friend's car.
I casually remarked, "Anna, you are getting into a wrong car." He asked, "Why?" I said it has a Congress flag, belonging to a Congress leader and MP, who is already sitting in the car.
His immediate response and reaction was, "So what? My DNA is Congress and I am proud of it." That is fine, whatever may be the compulsion and change in his political transitional ideology, I said to myself, "Hats off" for the courage of his convictions and the dogmatic belief in Congress that gave him political opportunities and recognition, right from his student days.
All the more, he being well-educated and an intellectual, making such comments had to be viewed and analysed from a different political angle. May his tribe live long, for being so open and frank!
Similarly there are other leaders, whose DNA may also be Congress, Communist, BJP, or any other variety.
Yet, may be they have migrated and changed their political loyalties for several other reasons, some for greener pastures, some for rendering public service in an effective manner, while some for temporary pelf and self-glorification.
Each of these birds of passage have their own destination nests and ambitions, unfortunately they are labouring under the false notion that they are the Birds of Paradise.
In the pre- and post-Independence days, this kind of political transitional trend or tendency was not there. They were leaders, who could be called compos-mentis, who had total control over their body, mind and heart and were always composed.
Today, we have in our society, persons without any long-term political vision, convictions, consistency and commitment. Further, there is no correct understanding of any political party ideology.
No sooner an MLA or MP is elected, for that matter any elected leader, big or small, from Ward Member of a small Panchayat to Member of Parliament in general, their minds focus on how to win the next election and not on how to serve the people and develop the constituency.
As a committed political leader, one needs to think of the 'Nation and the People First' as one's motto. People, for their educational, economic and social development and for qualitative improvement of their lives and standards of living, need such leaders.
No doubt, with the emergence of telecom and IT revolutions, the pace of life has become very fast and the new generation has no time to wait, watch and analyse or to merely stand and stare and discern what is right and wrong.
They go by their impulsive actions and are influenced by inexperienced so-called political mentors and peers. Such leaders know the price of things but not the value of things.
Where are those political stalwarts, who sacrificed their lives for freedom and for the multi-faceted development of the nation! Persons like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Abul Kalam Azad and many of this class of national leaders.
Just at the drop of a hat, today's leaders are trying to shift their loyalties – leaving behind an excellent glorious past, after having enjoyed power, pelf, position and all that encompasses it.
One need not mention the details of their golden era. Should they not be sensitive and worried for public opinion, to what they can attribute to the political parties they leave behind, without a sense of regret and still rejoice over the temporary glorification, humdrum and hired drum-beaters.
What matters to a civilised and conscious political thinker is the cause and effect. To me, it seems to be Doctrine of Karma, and certainly not Doctrine of Dharma, that these self-styled leaders follow.
I was once attending Prema Pandurang's spiritual discourse at Sri Satya Sai Nigamagamam in Hyderabad. She narrated an interesting anecdote from her life.
Somewhere in Tamil Nadu, she was in the middle of her spiritual discourse, where 3000-plus audience were present in the hall.
One of her disciples suddenly appeared on the dais, where Premaji was delivering her discourse, and handed over a telegram, which conveyed the sad news of the demise of her father. There was a pause in her discourse, as tears welled up in her eyes.
Prema Padurang reasoned within herself as to what is her Dharma. She must continue with her discourse and not disappoint her huge audience.
Karma, on the other hand, is nothing but what is pre-destined in one's life, which cannot be changed. Dharma is what one can do by upholding the virtues and values with a sense of responsibility, besides performing righteous actions.
This is what the political leaders need to understand, in order to serve their constituents better and stand by the people during their hour of need. There should be commitment to implement the promises made in the election manifesto.
In her long history, India has faced many challenges and made many sacrifices but never accepted defeat. Test of democracy, it is said, is how governments change peacefully.
We are in politics for the people and for the future generations. In this effort, every leader needs to be devoted to the principles and policies of our respective political parties.
There must be a fundamental commitment to make the country prosperous and enhance her prestige in the comity of nations. That is the true essence of politics.
There is an insistent and imperative need for the leaders belonging to different political hues to remain anchored in their ideological moorings and not to go adrift. There is a need for the political leaders to return to their roots.
(The writer is an intellectual, analyst, activist, academician, politician all rolled into one. Views expressed are personal)