Thursday, March 8, 2012

Triumph of native charm over dynasty

The outcome of the recent high octane State election battle in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur may have left many high profile aristocratic contenders dejected, but it has also brought back smiles on faces of indigenous political contestants who won by unimaginably huge margins.

The most significant battle of the States was the one in the largest, but the most underdeveloped, State in India, Uttar Pradesh (UP). The key factor of UP elections was the relentless campaigning done by the scion of the Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi. Like the monk who sold his Ferrari, Rahul Gandhi left his princely home in New Delhi to ride on the barren unfamiliar land of UP. This is the first time in history of Indian politics that UP elections drew nationwide interest. Thanks to the Gandhi scion who acted as a catalyst to attract minute-by-minute coverage by media. No doubt, he worked hard towards successfully bringing down the corrupt ruling party lead by Mayawati from winning again, but his charm failed to win him votes from the electorate.

For so long now, the State of UP is troubled with the maximum number of unreported cases of hooliganism, corruption, rape, kidnap, and cruelty to women, among others. Most of these cases escape inquiry and judicial proceedings because of their strong political affiliations. Additionally, underdevelopment and unemployment are issues that continue to plague the ‘common man’ of UP. The ousted of national parties such as the Congress and BJP, at the State elections was a clear indication that the people wanted an affable honest leader who will be accessible anytime they need them.

Rahul Gandhi may have been the apple of the eye of the media and the people living outside UP, who had nothing to lose or gain from the outcome of the elections. But for the people of UP, Rahul Gandhi was a foreigner. It was difficult for them to trust him. Moreover, the Congress party whom Rahul represented didn’t have a strong organizational set-up in the State. Had Congress been like the Maruti Suzuki service station, accessible to the people anywhere anytime, maybe things would look positive for him and his party. People of UP instead chose the 38yr old Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, who comes out a strong level-headed person with a vision to bring change in UP.

Furthermore, Congress has been weighed down by umpteen number of corruption cases registered against its party’s high profile politicians. Many of its party leaders are either being legally tried in corruption cases or are spending time behind the four walls of a lock-up today. Also, Congress’s arrogance towards anti-corruption crusader, Anna Hazare’s ‘India against corruption’ movement only further added fuel to fire.

Congress failed to even create an impact in states like Goa which it once administered for countless number of years. The party also lagged behind in Punjab and Uttarakhand…eventually being able to make an impact only in Manipur. Doesn’t this call for introspection and deep thought? Confidence is healthy, but overconfidence can destroy. The party needs to stop flaunting its blue-blood legacy and start working from the grassroots. In changing India today, people do not vote for prince and princesses who visit small towns on their bikes and cars reminding people of how poorer they are becoming. Even the noble descent is not a ticket to any power position in Indian politicians today. To get there, you got to be real.

It was na├»ve to see senior members of the Congress party scramble to take blame for the party’s downfall in the UP elections. Despite the loss, they rallied for Rahul Gandhi and did everything to save face of the heir of the Gandhi family and the Prime Ministerial hopeful. I have heard of a person having a Godfather in his/her life, but Rahul Gandhi has so many Godmothers and Godfathers who are ready to endanger their self respect for the sake of their beloved God child. Lucky guy, I must say!

However, it was good to see Rahul Gandhi gathering courage and taking responsibility for the loss. And as he rightly said, you win some, you lose some. Rahul Gandhi can take home a lot of lessons learnt from the UP elections. In fact, if he really wants to make a difference, he should continue working at the grassroots levels across India. More importantly, he should tell his party members to stop projecting him as a Prime Ministerial candidate at every discussion and debate with the media. The Prime Minister of India is Shri Manmohan Singh. Respect the man and allow him to do his job without meddling with his work and his self respect.

Post script
After Mayawati’s debacle in UP elections, wonder what’s the fate of the statues that she built during her governance? UP is known by the world for the enormous display of statues of Dalit leaders and elephants. Even gigantic Mayawati statues which has drawn in a lot of criticism from various groups is a talking point of UP’s grandeur. Wonder what the winning Samajwadi Party (SP) will do with these statues? If I was Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of SP, I would have retained the elephants coz it undoubtedly enhances UP’s aesthetic appeal. While decision on whether to retain or unearth Mayawati’s statues should be discussed and debated in the State Assembly. With due respect to Mayawati’s boldness, and for being someone elected on her own merit, SP should keep the statues. Of course, it’s another story that Mayawati failed to keep up to people’s expectations.