Justice Katju asked an important question, are elections relevant in India?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Are elections relevant in India?

By Justice Markandey Katju

Results of the state legislative assembly elections in 5 states in India viz. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram, were declared on 3rd December, and now the quest is on for Chief Ministers of these states. The BJP won a huge majority in the first 3 states and the Congress party in Telangana.

I submit that all these developments and activities are irrelevant for the Indian masses.

As I have repeatedly said, the test of every political system or political activity is one, and only one : does it raise the standard of living of the people ? Does it give them better lives?

From that viewpoint, the truth is that whatever was the election result, and whoever will be the Chief Minister, is wholly irrelevant, as it will have no effect on the people's lives. Massive poverty, unemployment, child malnutrition, skyrocketing prices of food and other essential commodities, almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education, etc will continue as before.

In the Ayodhyakaand of Tulsidas's epic poem Ramcharitmanas, the servant Manthara tells Queen Kaikeyi :

''Koi nrip hoye hamein ka haani, cheri chaadi ab hob ki rani''

कोउ नृप होउ हमहि का हानी। चेरि छाड़ि अब होब कि रानी।।


''How does it matter to me who becomes the king? I am not going to become the Queen''.

Though I do not regard the people of India as a Manthara, her words represents their plight in the present system of parliamentary democracy. The politicians, who are the kings in India, will make all kinds of tall promises before the elections to the people, who are their servants, only for these promises to be forgotten for the next 5 years, the moment election results are declared.

The fact is that Indians, like children, love following a Pied Piper of Hamelin, e.g. when Indira Gandhi gave the slogan ‘gharibi hatao’, or when Anna Hazare said 'bhrashtachar hatao', or when Modi spoke of vikas, or when Rahul Gandhi, who believes he is entitled to India's throne because he belongs to the royal family, spoke of opening a 'mohabbat ki dukaan' ( shop of love ) in the 'nafrat ka bazaar' ( market of hatred ), which was really with an eye on the Muslim vote bank.

Unfortunately, the people of India wake up to the realisation that they were taken for a ride only after, as a witch in Shakespeare's play Macbeth said '' The hurly burly's done, the battle's lost and won ''.

This is the sad truth about the Indian people. Wisdom, and knowledge of grim realities, dawns on them only after the battle is over.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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