Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Games People Play

I am generally not interested in what our dear politicians do, but the desperate campaigns both the chief parties, that is, the BJP and the Congress have had these elections have caught the attention of a lot of people across the country including me.

On one hand, is the saffron politics of Mr. Modi. He has achieved iconic status in the state. Sometimes, you wonder whether he has become bigger than the party itself. Moditvas- the new term coined by the media for his remarks while addressing rallies- have taken the state by storm.

When his campaign started, I was initially glad that he has kept his speeches free from the communal tones. But I guess the joy was short-lived because the true colour of the person resurfaced in his sermon in Godhra. Isn’t it disgraceful that you have the Chief Minister defending extra-judicial killings in front of 10000 people? Moreover, his whole defence was on the basis of him wiping out terrorists of the state. His use of the phrase ‘desh-drohi’ was such a let down. Agreed he has done a lot for fast-tracking industrial investment in Gujurat and building a conducive environment for economic prosperity in the last few years, but is the so called defender of genocide justified in becoming a leader of a state?

On the other hand, there is the Congress who have only campaigned against BJP rather than campaigning for itself. The still haven’t found a leader who can match Modi’s persona. They are yet to propose a solid plan for the future of Gujurat if there party is voted into governance. All Ms.Gandhi says in her speeches is that thousands are growing hungry, your chief minister is a ‘merchant killer’ and we promise you a government that will take care of the common man. When have thousands not gone hungry in India? If that is the case, then we should vote out governments in most states right now. When she uses the phrase ‘merchant-killer,’ she herself is aggravating a huge chunk of the Hindu merchants who are extremely pleased with the reforms under Modi. As far as the promises go, I think the people are well-versed with the fact that they are only made to be broken. Congress has always been on the defensive these elections which has been its biggest drawback.

It is hard to ignore the filthy games politicians are playing in the electoral battlefield of Gujurat. What is even more surprising is how successful these measures have been in polarizing the masses. There lies hope though, as I recently saw in an episode of “We, The People”, centered around the Gujurat elections. There were such heart-wrenching stories of people who have been victims of the riots as well as the attack on Sabarmati express in 2002. To mention some, a man whose wife was burnt alive on the train in Godhra himself said, that he never asked for Muslims to be massacred in the name of justice. All he wanted was the accused to be giving the most stringent punishment for their crime. The riots were only called for due to the politicization of the issue. Then another Muslim who lost all his industries and some of his loved ones during the riots said that it was time to stop being victim-centric and think about an environment where both Hindus and Muslims can move forward together. At the same time, there were a few who still had not recovered from the shock and were blind to the idea of development and growth when weighed against the scars of the riots.

All said and done, one wish the people on the show were quite unanimous about was their need for peace. It is a sorry-state that we no longer have statesmen, we only have politicians, and for them, human sentiments are of little value as compared to votes. The choices people have right now can be compared to the quandary of choosing between Hitler and Mussolini.

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