At the time when we are facing difficult political situation and even when the people of the country seems to have made up their mind to defeat the sectarian communal forces, the political parties seems to be still calculating their petty interests and not focusing on joining hand to defeat the forces against our constitution and civility. Not that they should not think about their interests but it is equally important to look at the broader issues of endangered polity and how can they fight it together.
Many corrupt deals at the highest level have been exposed. The message is going to the people that a few corporate have gained yet corruption still has not become the major issue today. The reason for this are simple. The people who are raising it, may be new but have a lot of burden of their legacies of the past from which they have benefited and hence unless if they are unable to take an unbiased stand on that, it would be difficult.
Today we are remembering a man who passed on in silence when Mumbai saw an attack on its identity on November 26, 2008, and people and media were glued to watch live the terrorist attempt to attack our constitution, the man who had influenced India’s polity more than any one else at least in the independent India, passed away in Delhi without much knowledge of the media and people. Yes, V P Singh went into silence permanently on November 27th without much remembrance by media as well as his associates who benefited from him and his politics. V P Singh created history everywhere he went. And his fight against corruption particularly against those who were holding the high offices as well as against the corrupt crony industrialists gave country a hope. The people listened to him and felt he was the genuinely interested in eliminating corruption. Corruption became the issue of the people. Many ‘experts’ feel that Bofors was not a big scandal and they are correct if we compare it to the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal or any other deals but we need to understand as why despite a huge scandal this has not become the major issue among the masses. Are the people asking questions on Rafale as they were during the Bofors time. Perhaps not that much.
To understand this phenomena we need to understand that there is no magic wand to convert an issue into a national obsession. V P Singh unlike others was actually a politician whose relationship with people was immense. He was extraordinary simple and honest. That apart, his access to common karykartas and local political leaders, student leaders, communities, intellectuals, civil society people made him remarkably a different person. In the post emergency India, there are very few political leaders who had respect for intellectuals and creative persons and VP was one among them. As the polity became too individualistic and politicians became brand themselves, the other things disappeared. Party became the main thing while promoting and encouraging young leaders side tracked. I have not seen after that when political leaders were engaged directly with students and encouraging young leaders to join politics. So much happened in the past four years. Our campuses were on fire and there was a huge resentment but who organisesd this huge chunk of youngsters dissatisfied with the current system. Where is the link between the civil society, the intellectuals and students leaders. Those who should have been doing it are silent while those who want to change constitution and do away with it, have been engaged dong it.
The parties of social justice and those who are dedicated to the ideals of Ambedkar, Lohia and other legends need to engage more with civil society organisations, intellectuals, students and communities to create new leadership. We need multiplicity of leaders and not merely those few who can fight elections. The world is changing and can not be confined to those who contest a few elections. It is much bigger than that.
The crisis today is of the highly inaccessibility of the political class. Count any of the great leaders of our time and you will find few things in common. You may agree or disagree with them but their connect with masses remained. They created new leaders, from absolutely untested one and provided opportunities. Ideologically they were clear. You can count very few of them. V P Singh was one among them. Late Kanshiram created the whole movement and absolutely dedicated team of Ambedkarite all over the country. All this does not come without a clear and unambiguous ideology. That apart, all of them remained absolutely uncorrupted. None could purchase them. They remained humble to the core.
So, if the issue of corruption has to be a major issue then the communication too is important. The communicator should too be clear in absolute term whether he would be selective in choosing target or would talk about himself. V P remained honest in his personal lives because if todays leaders who are deep neck in corruption want to speak about it, people dont listen to them. Rahul is young and making efforts but they fall short because of Congress Party’s own track record have never been that clean particularly after Indira Gandhi. Nehruvian Congress was not merely secular but also ideologically committed and clean unlike the gangs promoted by Sanjay Gandhi and like him.
The politics changed afterwards.
The crisis of being V P is many. It is a lesson for all. One, when we fight ideological battle, it is difficult. You wont get many. In our society, most of our allegiance to our people is our caste, community, religious and regional linkages and associations. If you venture beyond this then you might get isolated. V P Singh ventured beyond that and lost in the din of noise of politics which became a family venture or private limited companies with chamchas all around. He did not have a strong party network. I tried to cobble together various groups and parties but that will only work when any one has a feeling of coming to power otherwise these associations are bound to fail.
It is important for all of us to learn from the experiences, failure and success stories of all those who matter in our political lives. Attempt have been made by people to ignore and forget V P Singh but perhaps his relevance will remain as ever and none can deny his space in the history of India as a leader who changed the destinies of millions and gave the brahmanical polity the unrecoverable jolt of its life.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
November 27th, 2018