Is Power Always A Bane?

Posted on July 24, 2011 in Politics

By Arushi Gupta:

“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”

Thucydides said these words with reference to the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta in 411 B.C. But today, centuries later, these words may be relevant to the current political situation in India.

The congress, ever since its inception in 1885 took it upon itself to be the voice of the people, to fight against the injustices caused by the British Raj and to earn the nation its independence. Thus, it won the trust and legitimization by the people. Somewhere along the way, however, it seems to have lost sight of what it had set out to do. It is what one may call an identity crisis. What does it stand for now? What are its ideals and goals? Is it being able to capture the imagination of the people?

Then there is the BJP, once a successful vehicle for the emerging middle class in the 1990’s, it too seems to be suffering from the same problems as the congress. The BJP had emerged as a party to be reckoned with as the Congress seemed to be nearing its demise soon after Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death. Now, it too needs to re-evaluate its party agenda and create something which will draw people back to it.

While there has been an ongoing struggle for power between the Congress and BJP since the mid 90’s and there have been major gains and losses on both sides, there appears to be one constant loser — the common man. It has been observed that in the past two general elections of India the combined vote of the Congress and BJP has been less than 50 percent. This sends out a clear signal, the people want more options.

The emergence of regional parties has greatly intensified the struggle for power. They too now, want to play a greater role in the politics of the nation. They want to represent their communities that they claim have been ignored in the past and undo the injustices caused by the central government(s).While this has led to the presence of more options for the people; it has also led to a great voter divide. There appears no clear majority and thus our nation has been plagued by incessant coalitions.

With every new solution emerge several new problems and they appear to be unresolved. In politics there are no constants. No constant except one- the hunger for power, because politics, above everything else is a struggle for it. Everyone wants a share, wants control, and wants the ability to influence decisions. After a point in time, it doesn’t matter how you get it and what you do with it.

While there have been numerous discussions regarding this very topic in the past, there have not been as many conclusive alternatives. The questions to be asked here are-What do the people want? In a country as diverse as ours, can a single party capture every community and group’s interests and more importantly, live up to them? In a country which is at a crossroads between its traditional values and modernizing tendencies, what will prevail?

In the game of politics, there doesn’t exist any right or wrong, any black or white, all that exists and prevails over everything else is power. Those who have it use it, whether for good or evil and those who don’t have it, suffer because of it. Indian politics is no exception.