Politics and governance are two totally different aspects but are often mixed up, for the sake of the convenience of those at the helm of affairs. It is not uncommon to see political decisions being passed with a tag of ‘governance’ and the blame for inadequate governance being shifted to tardy politics.
Often, it is assumed that those who are good at politics are ubiquitously better at governance and thus we hand over the reins to a ‘better politician’ rather than someone good at governance, which ends up creating a mess. A good politician is one who has an excellent connection with the people and is blessed with flamboyant oratory skills using which, they can achieve two primary objectives – convincing people that they will work for their welfare and efficiently deal with political opponents and their mudslinging.
People confuse a good politician with a good leader and that’s where the trick lies. Also, pertinent it is to mention here, that in the above sentence, the word ‘good’, used twice has different meanings. When I say “a good politician”, I mean a politician who is good at politics, not someone people would necessarily need. But when I say “a good leader”, it describes the quality as a leader that people would surely need.
Last year, a decision was taken that had a massive impact on the lives of every Indian. It was November 8, 2016, and at the stroke of the midnight notes of denominations 500 and 1000 were rendered illegal as tenders of currency. The decision received a mixed response. The government changed its stance multiple times about its intent behind the move – first, it was to eradicate black money from the system, then it was to weed out corruption. But when data from RBI came out saying that most of the banned notes had made into the banking system, the tone suddenly changed. The new stance was that the move was to make the system cashless and to promote an era of digital transactions.
All those reasons notwithstanding, in my head, one thing was very clear. The Modi Sarkar could have achieved its political target, the UP elections, through demonetisation. For me, all clues point to the fact that the donations to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party were suddenly deemed irrelevant after demonitisation, and they had no time to rack them up while BJP was way ahead. Also, according to a few reports, it became clear that many in the BJP were well aware of the move, so much for its secrecy. One cannot ignore the timing of the move also, which coincided well with UP elections. Governance was used to hide the political motive. And when governance failed, politics was to be blamed.
Did we achieve freedom from black money and corruption with that move? Definitely not, because the police still take bribes, the court’s reek of corruption and the Non-Performing Assets are rising in the Public Sector Banks, for which recently, the government has announced an infusion of funds to keep them afloat. This was a measure which would spark inflation and impeded growth and that happened inevitably. The GDP slumped, the prices soared, and there was none to be directly blamed, no accountability at all.
To top that, controversies on topics like Padmavati, the Ram Mandir and Baba Ram Rahim are allowed to devour the real estate of news to keep the public busy. This ensures that we deviate and the real questions about the efficacy of government measures, sluggish growth, dwindling infrastructure, crumbling employment and the likes never take centre stage.
Very strategically, religion and politics are used interchangeably. Figure this. Barely six months before the Gujarat elections, Instant Triple Talaq was declared illegal. In my opinion, this was done to woo the Muslim community in Gujarat as that is the most sensational combination to tap into. If it is not to woo the Muslim voters of Gujarat – the hardest for BJP to woo – then what is this move’s real motive?
Every measure by the government that is projected as either developmental or progressive has a political undertone to it. And religion is influencing both the politics and policy to a very unhealthy level. The actual issues which affect our everyday lives like better roads, less taxation, improved infrastructure, better transport services, better civic amenities, seamless power connectivity, better internet speeds are being looked over for the construction of a temple, the banning of age-old religious practices or simply, a Bollywood film.
But the ruling party and the government are not solely to be blamed for this. We, the citizens, are an equal party, as we get swayed by one breaking news, forgetting the real issues and helping the power mongers to play with the dual cards of politics and governance as they wish. There are many Jaichands among us also who want to wield our own limited power in a signature fashion by egging on selective and less relevant issues and keeping the flame burning. Unless a good number of citizens are hand-in-glove with the government, these games are seldom playable.
It’s time we realize this fallacy and act upon it. After all, it’s our lives that get affected due to this. The choice lies with us.