An election season concocts a curious admixture of the awful and the ayyo-rama. On the one hand, the parties and politicians go through their usual charade—the last-minute switch of loyalties, the flurry of freebies, the spin, the charges, the defence—and earn the usual response from voters.
On the other hand, there are the brave hearts who somehow manage to light up a fire in the belly to do something, anything. Call it foolishness, call it overoptimism, call it what you will, but to the overwhelming cynicism that our political increasingly engenders, they provide a soothing balm—for a fortnight.
Last general elections, IITians hurled themselves into the political pyre. As the Karnataka assembly elections approaches the bend, a few do-gooders are popping up. M. Lakshmana of the “Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens” is throwing his hat in Mysore.
In Bangalore, it is Ravi Krishna Reddy.
On his website, Reddy, 33, a software engineer in the Bay Area hailing from Bommasandra who founded the magazine Vikrant Karnataka, makes all the right noises, and quotes the usual suspects, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi. But are good intentions alone enough to come up trumps?
Reddy has written an open letter to his brethren in the Information Technology world to step forward and be counted when it matters.
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Bangalore’s IT industry:
I am a software engineer and am seeking your support for “Values and Ethics in Politics of Karnataka.”
I am sure that you have noticed the political tamasha of recent times in Karnataka, and the absolute deterioration of political morality. Power mongering, money, caste and communal frenzy have become the major attributes of electoral democracy.
Bangalore itself has become a haven for real estate and mining magnates.
In such a scenario, in the forthcoming Karnataka Assembly elections, it seems that a candidate will be elected only if he spends tens of crores of rupees; if he gives gifts to the electorate; if he stirs up caste and communal passions, dividing all of us.
No other qualities and sane reasons are going to be considered. People, who do not understand the challenges of our times and our generation, are going to be elected.
All the money is definitely going to be the money that was ill-gotten, unaccounted, black money. People with money are going to buy the election and every party is going to make the mockery of law and the people’s mandate.
The Election Commission has imposed a legal limit of 10 lakh rupees for the election related expense. But, most of the mainstream political party candidates will be spending 10 times more and surely in Bangalore, some candidates will spend 100 times the legal limit.
Make no mistake. Only ill-gotten, unaccounted, black money will be spent in these elections, and with the intention of making more. This is not a fair election. In this system, in these times, no honest man can stand for an election and win.
Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest upholders of Democracy and Equality in the history of mankind, once said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”
At this juncture, as citizens of India, what then is our responsibility? How shall we respond to this challenge? Just by doing a mere “lip service”? Just by being cynical and selfish? Or, by knowing our rights and responsibilities and follow the path of righteousness?
What will the 300,000+ strong IT employees of Bangalore do?
I believe we cannot afford to be silent and indifferent. I believe if we do not take part in the democratic process, that will be a great sin and an act of betrayal towards Bangalore and Karnataka, the land where we were born, where we are earning a living and paying taxes, where our children are growing up and will be spending the rest of their life.
Can we afford to let thugs, criminals, anti-social elements, petty people be our representatives?
Ravi Krishna Reddy