NATION FIRST – REGIONS LATER

KANPUR, (# Chhotebhai Noronha) —  Over the years I have voted for the Janata Party, Janata Dal, CPM, Samajwadi, and of late, the Congress. As a social and civic activist I do not belong to any party. Ideologically I would brand myself as a left of centre Gandhian (the original Gandhi – the Mahatma). My votes have been determined more by the candidate than the party, as I believe that the driver (vahak) is more important than the car (vahan).

As I write, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins have been spared the noose, to rejoicing in Tamilnadu. Telengana has been formed, and Andhra burns. Rajiv’s assassins were spared, and the Prime Minister could not go to Sri Lanka earlier, for a Commonwealth meeting, for fear of hurting Tamil sentiments. The same goes for Beant Singh’s assassin in Punjab. But Afzal Guru could be clandestinely hanged because the mighty Indian State can still ride roughshod over Kashmir.

There has been talk of policy paralysis and the Lok Sabha not functioning. This is part of coalition politics, based on convenience, not coalescence. The buzzwords are corruption (endemic) and inflation (systemic). Though they are poll issues for the Opposition Parties they cannot be swept away by any broom (pun intended). This time even communalism/ secularism is not such an issue. What is at stake is the very idea of India.

Bharatvarsha may have been a geographical reality, but as a political entity India was born only in 1947. Some States in the northeast, and Kashmir, acceded to the Indian Union after Independence. Hyderabad and Goa were annexed later, the latter only in 1961. Ironically, today Goa has the highest per capita income of nearly Rupees Two Lakhs, and the cheapest petrol at Rs 62/-. Why? Because it gave up its regional mindset by dumping regional parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Hindu dominated) and the United Goans Party (Catholic dominated), and switched to national parties like the Congress and the BJP. Goa is a lesson for the rest of the country.

The real danger is not corruption, communalism or inflation. Aggressive regionalism is now the greater threat. Hence in a Lok Sabha election the preference should be for pan-Indian parties like the Congress or the BJP. If only Congresswallahs had the courage to emerge from the shadow of “madam’s” pallo; and the BJP could jettison its hardcore Hindutva leanings, it would make our task so much easier.

As for Delhi’s AK47, he jumped off a running bus, and now wants us to join his gravy train! But he is no Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. He may not subscribe to political processes (rajniti), or social grace and finesse (kutniti), but he is a past master at strategy (ranniti), aided by expert psephsologist Yogendra Yadav. Their mild manners on TV shows (in contrast to their aggressive street fighting) are also a part of that disarming strategy. They now come across as shrewd strategists where aap (a polite way of saying “You”) is more like mein (“I”, the big ambition), as Anna has also now rightly observed.

So as an Indian, in this Lok Sabha election, I will vote for a pan-Indian party, largely depending on the credentials of the candidate. JAI HIND!
The writer is the Convenor of the Kanpur Nagrik Manch. His views are personal

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