Letting power go to head

Letting power go to head

Once in power, many of our netas suffer sin of superiority

Very few of our leaders seem capable of shunning politics of arrogance. Once in power, they tend to believe they can just do whatever they want to do – and all in the name of welfare of the people. They forget that power should not be utilised to satisfy their pride or overconfidence. They refuse to accept what others say and are never ready to listen to the voice of opposition. They feel they are apostles of knowledge and wisdom and all others – whether they be the general public, opposition or social activists – are people with no brains. Arrogance earns anger and will cost dearly. All know, but few can resist power-inflated egos

Though we are in the ‘Amrit Kal’ there appears to be no end to politics of arrogance in the country. There are any number of instances where individual arrogance reached sky high and saner voices were crushed. Politicians seem to believe once in power they can just do whatever they want to do, and all in the name of welfare of the people. They forget that power should not be utilised to satisfy their pride or overconfidence.

They refuse to accept what others say and are never ready to listen to the voice of opposition. They feel they are apostles of knowledge and wisdom and all others – whether they be the general public, opposition or social activists – are people with no brains.

The netas in power live in a world of their own and feel that they are most powerful and successful but in the long run they fall flat when the tolerance levels of the people reaches level zero. Another major problem with political arrogance is that it can even tear the country apart and upset the democratic polity’s equanimity. What is more is that when they lose power, they are unable to accept it gracefully.

They seem to forget that democracy is a great leveller. Here I would like to recall what Arun Jaitley had once said: “Democracy votes politicians into power; it votes them out of power. Those who move up will also move down. Arrogance can never be strength. It is a mask for lack of confidence. Arrogant people are not learners. Arrogance should never be confused with confidence. Arrogance leads to over-belief in yourself.”

There are any number of examples of arrogance in politics including the results of Telangana State Assembly where the ruling BRS faced debacle and Congress party which was considered to be down and out emerged like a phoenix and within six months of intense campaign came back to power.

The entire administration in the last nine years was totally centralised. The ruling party had got disconnected with the general public. There was no access for anyone even to the building where the seat of administration (Secretariat building) functions. The ruling party felt that rolling out of various schemes and transfer of money directly into the accounts of beneficiaries and attempt to rake up regional sentiment would help them get votes. But people who were unhappy with the failure of the government on many counts like unemployment, irregularities in Dharani portal, non-fulfilment of the promise to provide two-bedroom houses etc., paved way for the debacle of the pink party.

Within 24 hours of the new government taking charge, another example of how bureaucracy works also came to fore. Many times, I had mentioned in these columns that the new trend in the two Telugu states is that the bureaucracy which is supposed to guide the political executive had turned into “Yes CM and Yes Minister.” Many did not like this comment. But their swift action on the day when new government came to power indicates something. Could it be fear of facing the wrath of the new government or may be something else one does not know. In a tearing hurry, it seized a mall which belongs to Jeevan Reddy had contested as the BRS MLA from Armoor and lost the polls in the just concluded elections.

What leaves one aghast is the TS Discoms, which do not spare the common man even for one month if he misses the due date to pay his bill of Rs 500 or 600, had shut their eyes even when Reddy did not pay power charges all these years and the dues mounted to Rs 2.5 crore. There are two issues here. Why did the power utilities close their eyes and why didn’t the former MLA pay the dues?

Is it not an example of arrogance that no one can touch the ruling party leader? Similarly, the TS Road Transport Corporation which is reeling under heavy losses kept quiet though the he did not pay the lease amount for constructing a commercial complex on their land and the dues piled up to over Rs 5 crore. Why? Is it subservience of officials or arrogance of ruling party members? Why did the same officials swing into action within a day of the BRS government going out of power?

The Congress party led by the youngest CM Revanth Reddy should focus attention on such issues and see that democratic functioning is restored if his regime has to stay in power for longer period to serve the people.

Let’s look at another example of arrogance. What about the stand adopted by the I.N.D.I.A regarding the expulsion of TMC MP Mahua Moitra alleging that she had betrayed parliamentary democracy? She claims she did no wrong and she only gave in the portal log-in access and any member can take the help of anyone to file questions. Well, she can take the help of anyone to get information but how can one give free access to someone staying in Dubai and ask him to file the questions?

If her contacts have some information, she should delve deep into it, gather the facts and put the government on mat by raising questions in Parliament on her own. The stand taken by her party TMC led by Mamata Banerjee as well as the entire bloc INDIA that the government was victimising her is ridiculous. Why can’t our politicians and bureaucrats learn to call a spade a spade?

Here is another example of politics of arrogance. Once an honourable member of 16th Lok Sabha Ravindra Gaikwad thrashed an Air India employee with a slipper. He defended his act saying he had hit the employee with a chappal 25 times below the ear. Well, do honourable members have right to thrash anyone? Being people’s representatives, do they believe in violence? Is that what they are elected for? He said he was angry over the behaviour of the employee and so he had thrashed him. But what about people? What should they do when they get angry with their elected representatives for not fulfilling the electoral promises? Is it necessary to wait till next election or do what the honourable Member of Parliament had done? If they do so, what will happen to country’s law and order situation?

When “Human labour triumphed over machinery in Uttarkhand when 41 workers were trapped in Silkyara tunnel and pulled out all the workers safe after 17-day ordeal and was widely covered by national and global media which praised the efforts of the rescue workers, particularly the work of the rat hole mining experts who succeeded in a breakthrough to clear the final 12 meters rubble using only hands, drills and pulleys, inside a narrow evacuation pipe that pushed through the debris after machinery failed, the opposition stared indulging in nit-picking and finding fault with the government on many counts.

That was the time when entire nation prayed for the lives of the trapped workers but instead of appreciating the nearly impossible objective and the success of the operation which made everyone emotional and recognise the courage and patience of the trapped workers, which had set an amazing example of team work and humane cooperation, the arrogance of the opposition parties was clearly visible.

There is nothing wrong in pointing out any shortfall of the government. But then that should be done at proper time and occasion. The operation work taken up by the rescue teams was an amazing mission set a unique example of teamwork and humane cooperation. But the opposition parties did not have the patience to wait till the Parliament session began where they could raise the issue and perhaps tear the government of the day into pieces.

Would they have adopted the same attitude if they were in power when such a catastrophe had taken place? Then they would have said it is a national calamity and it is time for all to stand by the victims and one should not politicise such sensitive issues. “What I do is right what others do is wrong.” Unless this egoistic attitude is given up there would be no end to politics of arrogance in this country.

Let us look at another example. In the just concluded elections in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress party got mauled. But they refuse to take it as people’s verdict. If they had won and if the BJP had lost, they would have said everyone has to bow before the verdict of the people. But since they lost, they feel that the people had either committed a mistake or the EVMs were so badly tampered that the Congress party lost the polls. What a logic! The EVMs were introduced between 1998 to 2001 in a phased manner. After that many elections took place but why were they continued when Congress was in power for two terms prior to 2014? At that time, too, some parties demanded paper ballot. Then EVMs were right now they are wrong. What do we call this if not arrogance?

Now, the question is what should be done? The ultimate antidote for political arrogance is political humility. The Bureaucracy should first stop singing praises and politicians should keep their feet on the ground once they get elected. They should know their shelf life is just five years. Such humility needs to be developed as it counterbalances narcissism, self-centeredness, and pridefulness.

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