A naked nation

The forthcoming battle at the hustings is no Mahabaratha nor is India a Kurukshetra. There are no Pandavas though there is no dearth of Kauravas. The 1998 polls promises to be anything but a Dharmayudh, devoid of values or principles with the warring groups setting their sights on power and power alone.

The road to the throne is littered with ideologies and morals, shed by parties in a hurry in their frantic race. India today resembles a huge garbage dump overflowing with various ‘isms’, should soon have topping of two more, namely, secularism and communalism, for the people are certain to call off the bluff on both these concepts, which have been bandied about a little too much.

The din and the stink notwithstanding, does this single-minded pursuit of power augur well for the country? Is India a nation on the brink or are we on the threshold of a new awakening and a fresh identity? The political parties are the same and the politicians who infest it are also the same, but then why are they all singing totally different tunes from what they were doing all these days?

Is it owing to a genuine metamorphosis dictated by changing times or is it just a ruse to fool the voter? Are we at the crossroads of social and economic evolution or are we just precariously placed on the communal precipice, ready to plunge into the depths if we do not watch our step?

And, of course, the basic question: How sound are the credentials of the so-called secularists and how real are the apprehensions about the much maligned communalists? Can India today truly claim to be a haven of communal harmony under the secular dispensation of all these fifty years or will a BJP rule really end up in mosques and churches being pulled down and the minorities getting dumped en masse, as is being projected?

If the secular are truly secular, how come they are unable to unite on this one platform and demonstrate their sincerity in fighting communalism, which they claim is their common enemy? Are all these secular parties solely guided by merit and character, when selecting a candidate or are they guided by local caste realities which dictate the voting pattern?

Why then do they all field a Jat in a Jat dominated locality. Can’t they, as a tribute to secularism, dare to be different and break this trend? Is not the Left which prides itself as the sole repository of all that is progressive also a willing votary of this electoral strategy?

Is not secularism just a cloak to hide their own skeletons and ugliness? Is not their crying wolf about communalism just a bogey to scare away the voters from casting their lot with the ‘enemy’. If the BJP is communal, then how does one explain the rise in the party’s fortunes over the years? Are all the people who voted for the BJP communal too?

Are not secularism and communalism concepts that exist only in the minds of the politicians? Is it not a fact that the people’s perception on these issues are totally different as is borne out by the successive electoral verdicts?

This election is no time to bemoan the loss of virtues in the polity. They were never really there in the first place. The country stands naked bereft of all misplaced ideologies and farces that it had covered itself with. The polls, we hope will give us a new robe that will really fit.

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Jawahar T R