If only the educated had been allowed to vote…

K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Another needless election has been thrust upon us. I call it needless for two reasons. Firstly, this whole exercise of re-electing the same set of sloppy legislators all over again much before the expiry of their terms at an astronomical cost to ourselves is nothing but a cruel joke being repeatedly played on us of late.

This time it was entirely because of just one family’s unwillingness to share power with its erstwhile allies as agreed upon earlier. Although a very shameful and disgusting turn of events, it was not entirely unexpected as power is very intoxicating while it is within your grasp and letting it slip through your fingers can indeed be very painful.

Promises have to be sweet and sugary only when you make them and it does not matter at all if they are as bitter as bile for others when you break them.

The second reason why I feel that this election was unnecessary is because like T.J.S. George, I too cannot help feeling that things were in no way worse during the Governor’s rule and they are going to be in no way better when democracy will finally be restored to our State in just a few weeks’ time.

It has been said and perhaps rightly so too, that “democracy may not be the perfect form of government but it is still the best form of government.”

When I was much younger and especially during the days of the emergency I was not only much impressed by this quote but also convinced that this was the absolute truth. Today, just a few years later, I am convinced that while it may be true elsewhere it cannot be more untrue for our country.

With more than sixty years of democracy having made no difference to our existence, I simply cannot think otherwise. Irrespective of the system of government that we govern ourselves with, nothing is ever going to change for us Indians unless we ourselves decide to change the way we think.

Barring the handful of strife-torn African countries that have no governance and no law and order whatsoever I cannot think of any developed or developing country where wayward politicians and corrupt bureaucrats can continue to fool the masses while thumbing their noses at the intelligentsia who are just tiny islands of powerlessness in a system where everyone, literate, semi-literate and illiterate, wields the power of the ballot.

If our leaders while drafting our Constitution had gone in for a limited democracy with only the well-educated getting voting rights, it would perhaps have been better for all of us. But it was not to be.

Consequently, now mammoth but completely mesmerised vote-banks completely overshadow individual voters who can think before they ink. At every election we see newer alliances, a few holy but most of them very unholy which only shows that in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. Politicians no longer belong to parties for their ideologies but only for their personal gains. That is why we see them changing their horses so frequently without the slightest sense of shame or even embarrassment.

Like most of us I also feel that this election too is only likely to fail like the many recent ones in giving us a stable government without splinter groups resorting to patchwork quilt making. To our leaders who never tire of making false promises elections are only a means of levering themselves into more lucrative portfolios and settling petty scores with their party rivals. To their henchmen who accompany them round-the-clock, frequent elections only mean more frequent opportunities to flex their muscles and make some quick and painless money.

To me and perhaps to many of you who are reading this piece, this election will only mean a few more days of being stuck in frequent traffic jams caused by rallies and processions and much-needed and already elusive sleep lost due to loud public utterances of what our leaders will certainly NOT be doing once they are elected. It will also mean a stained and disfigured finger to keep reminding each one of us of our pathetic plight, thankfully only as long as the election ink lasts.

When someone broached the subject of granting independence to India, Winston Churchill is reported to have remarked that if it was done rogues and ruffians would soon become its leaders. It might perhaps have sounded like typical Churchillian arrogance and insolence but sadly the present state of our politics testifies to the correctness of his thinking.

I cannot help feeling that if Yudhishtira had lived in our present-day world and if a present-day Yaksha had asked him what the greatest paradox in the world was, he would undoubtedly have bowed his head in shame and replied that it is the sorry state where Indians continue to elect the same corrupt and cut-throat scoundrels in election after election to rule over them.

To end my musings on a lighter note, perhaps the only thing interesting about this year’s election campaign which is just as meaningless as any other, is the occasional amusing story that comes up now and then like the one about Rahul Gandhi‘s sampling of the humble fare available at a roadside eatery and his hurricane visit to the not-so-available loo.

I wonder if the idly he tried was really so lethal! Despite the blue blood that flows in his veins the poor chap is also just another human being with normal physiological urges. It is common knowledge that whatever urges a human being can resist, one can never say ‘no’ when the signal inside says ‘go’!

I also wonder where the need was for the widely published report about him washing his hands at a washbasin and wiping them with his handkerchief after nibbling the idly. What else could he have done? He certainly could not have done vice-versa as one certainly cannot wash hands with a handkerchief and wipe them with a wash basin!

K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a regular column in Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared

Cartoon: courtesy Mahamud/ Deccan Herald