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Make this election all about people, not parties

Make this election all about people, not parties

Have we sunk so low that only political heavyweights are seen as patriots? Even so, we will do well to remember what Gandhiji said: Politics without principles is a social sin.

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Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:55 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:55 IST
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Elections loom ahead, and we witness the emergence of liars, dishonest people and imposters all around us. Political discourses are saturated with misinformation, with social media adding fuel to fire. Have we sunk so low that only political heavyweights are seen as patriots? Even so, we will do well to remember what Gandhiji said: Politics without principles is a social sin.

Unscrupulous and dishonest candidates prevail, as ‘winnability’ reigns supreme. Political ideologies and principles are disregarded, and elections are marred by the indiscriminate spread of the poison of money, communalism, and casteism. Self-praise overshadows genuine leadership at all levels.

It is not merely about which party wins or loses; it is about whether we, the voters -- the people of this country-- will triumph or falter. Power-seekers exploit the fault lines in society and divide the people along religion, caste, or creed. If the people prevail and refuse these divisions, these false and dishonest forces will be eradicated.

“Organise the strength of the people against the power of violence and the power of government,” said Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Movements such as Bhoodan, initiated by him, brought about a silent revolution with the haves sharing their excess lands with the have-nots. Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement against the Emergency in the 1970s also exemplifies this stance.

The common man must assert his or her responsibility as a participant in the democratic process, rejecting unscrupulous candidates regardless of the political party he or she belongs to. There is no need to be bound to one single political party like a bonded labourer. Gandhiji viewed politics as a spiritual calling, a stance that emphasises every citizen’s sacred civic obligation to refuse to vote in dishonest candidates. We must recognise that not all announcements equate to achievements. The nexus of power and money continues to deceive and defraud us.

The development discourse is often misleading. Public work contracts awarded in return for kickbacks do not amount to development. As Gandhiji said, true development does not hurt nature and culture. Candidates should be evaluated based on their commitment to the welfare of the poor, farmers and villages. We must scrutinise political parties and elected leaders indulging in horse trading. Plato’s words ring true: ‘If you do not take part in your government affairs, you will be ruled by fools’. Cleansing the body politic starts with our single vote.

It is important to be aware of scourges such as the addiction of religion, gambling and alcohol and drugs. These are wreaking havoc in our homes, society and the country. Half a century ago, Kannada poet, Jnanapeeta awardee Kuvempu, in his convocation address at the Bangalore University, emphasised the need to purify our flawed election system, quoting the American President Lyndon Johnson: ‘Politics is the last resort of a scoundrel’. 

It is not about political parties but about the country. There is a need to fight for our democracy and vote out leaders who try to suppress the common man with falsehoods and money. Dharma is the removal of wrong doers. No democracy can survive and thrive if its citizens are not free from falsehood and power manipulation. It is the responsibility of citizens to choose their leaders wisely. This is our current challenge. Let us not miss the opportunity and get derailed amidst all the misinformation. Let’s not lose focus on what truly matters.

Gandhiji advocated non-cooperation as a tool against oppression. Let’s defeat wrongdoing through non-cooperation, by refusing to vote for the wrong candidates. Doing what’s right today ensures a better tomorrow.

(The writer is president of the Karnataka Gandhi Smarak Nidhi)

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