Sunday, June 5, 2011

Well done. Now communicate intensely with the people....

In a democracy, tough action is often required against one’s own people. The ruling party has to decide whether action or inaction will harm the nation more. The opposition will criticize the government in any case. It has little value apart from providing them with a political opportunity. Eventually, the government of the day must remain focused on the core issue.....and communicate genuinely and intensely with the people of the country to convince them of the need for the action that was taken.

In the past, and incidentally even now, the BJP has accused the government of inaction. The BJP ploy has been to take on the PM directly. Even if there is a road accident in Delhi, they demand the PM’s resignation. Now they are taunting the President also of inaction. Their strategy is based on the well known truth that the PM is a low-profile quiet person. Oratory is not his cup of tea. By making this the center of a continuous tirade, an impression is being sought to be created with the people that the PM does not know how or what to speak. It’s as if a person who doesn’t speak well is not a good person at all. This is an old ploy. When the BJP tried to attack the PM in the UPA-1 regime, it boomed. Will it succeed now? More than anything else, this will depend on how the two main national parties – the Congress and the BJP -  communicate with the people now. Who communicates better will decide who wins this political battle. Since the BJP has been more adept at PR, they appear to be winning the game right now. But it doesn’t take long for the tide to change.....ultimate truth has to come out.

Because, let’s be sure, all this drama has nothing to do with’s nothing but a political battle for power. The BJP has no interest in removing corruption. As per a recent report, 5 out of its 7 CMs and state governments are listed in the 13 most corrupt states. The BJP – amongst all parties – has the least credentials on corruption. When they had their six years of power, they did nothing on the Lokpal Bill, blaming coalition politics for the inaction. They did nothing to get the black money back. They did nothing to ratify the UN convention on corruption. Even now, they don’t want to come clean with their views on the issues raised by Anna Hazare. For the BJP – whose main trump card of the past – debased Hindu politics – has failed, there is today no option but to whip up some – any – rhetoric against the government. The recent elections in the five states showed how marginalized they are in the country anyways.

Baba Ramdev is a known Hindu religious preacher who crosses over from yoga to religion ever so often. He’s commented on how women should conduct themselves in Hindu society. He has commented on gays; his views against the English language are nothing but a demonstration of jingoism. In today’s world, the only global language is English – the people of India have realized this – the sooner he realizes this, the better it would be for everyone. His saffron robes are carefully chosen – to convey much more than the yogic feel that he tries to project. The yoga is just an excuse. The presence of Ritambara – a known Hindu fanatic and accused in the Babri Masjid case – only confirms the fact that he is nothing but a front for the RSS/BJP. Just like the BJP uses the likes of Shahnawaz Hussain to show they are secular, Baba Ramdev used the presence of a few leaders from the other religions to show he was not an RSS fan. The truth however is otherwise.

Whenever tough action is taken, the government of the day will be held responsible. When Operation Bluestar happened, it was the most tragic incident. I have many Sikh friends and they were terribly agitated. After all, who wants the cops and the army to enter a religious place – that too the most sacred of them all? But was there anything else that the government of the day could have done? They had taken many efforts to talk to the misdirected violent Sikh youth. But when things got out of hand, and when the line between angst and terror became thin, they had no options but to forcibly evict those who had occupied the Golden Temple. There was a strong reaction from the Sikh community. The PM was shot down by her own Sikh guards. What followed was worse. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred in an unexplainable and miserable reaction from the majority Hindu community. The Congress is still held responsible for this also. And rightly so. They were in power and they should have controlled the mobs. Such is politics. You have to take action. Not taking action is many times worse than taking it.

Take another example. It didn’t act when Hindu goons attacked the Babri Masjid. It relied on the BJP government of UP’s word that Kar sevaks wouldn’t be allowed to enter the masjid. This inaction cost the Congress the support of the muslims for many years – in fact, millions of muslims still hold the Congress guilty of inaction on that fateful day.

So it’s not action or inaction that determines a party’s future. It is its ability to talk to the people. To explain the compulsions that made them take the decision. The Congress should now deploy its best to argue its case. Sibal is a good choice, but there is need for much more. The PM himself must come on TV and explain the reasons. This is not like the days of emergency.....but this is an emergency nonetheless. Shy or not, the PM has no role in politics if he cannot even communicate with his people. I doubt it if people will mistake him for softness because of his soft speak. What he speaks is more important that how he speaks. Because, if oratory won elections, Atal Bihari Vajpayee should have won the BJP another term in 2004.

When Obama raided Pakistan and killed Osama, millions in Pakistan held him to be Pakistan’s arch enemy. But Obama – to his credit – used the moment to reach out afresh to the larger Muslim world. The battleground was Pakistan.....but the real battle was with the larger muslim world. His test of leadership did not end when started then (again). So far he’s done well. He’s communicated excellently.....and without fear. He defended his action strongly. He said he would repeat it if required. That’s why he’s a strong leader. Likewise, the Congress should re-double its efforts at enacting a strong anti-corruption law. It must be seen as the one pushing the boundary and insisting on stronger clauses....and not let the civil society activists take the high ground. Only then will it win the day. Else, it should be willing to sit out of government for the next five years....

The real truth is that in politics, it is never about action taken or not taken. It’s about communicating with the masses. That’s where charisma comes in. When people hear and see a charismatic leader, they believe and trust in the leader. There are very few charismatic leaders in the country now. It’s probably time for Rahul Gandhi to come out into the open. His dad did it effectively in’s time he does the same now. The government has taken the right step today by evicting Baba Ramdev. Now they should reach out to a wider bunch of people across the country. Those who are disenchanted with the politicians. That’s what democracy is all about – communicating with your people all the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment