Thursday, May 21, 2020

EXPLAINING Politics: Reasons why rogue politicians, musclemen and goons are liked and get elected in India

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi 

It's a reality that in our country, politicians are not supposed to serve us or society. Rather, they are expected to wield power and rule.
    1. As people identify with a politician, the more thuggish he is, the more powerful he is seen as and the followers too feel powerful with him. 
    'Apna neta aisa hai' [My leader is strong] is a feeling, a Psychological effect. It has several benefits for the leader as well as workers and supporters. 

    'We elected him...our MP or MLA is a strongman..' This sentiment of strength gets deep into the followers. It empowers them. That's a symbiotic relationship of a unique kind. Further, if he belongs to one's own community, caste, naturally he feels more powerful as well as content and gets a feeling of pride. 
    2. That your own guy reigns in the region, it makes people believe that now they and their clan, caste or community dominates. Actually, the person feels strong, the sense of satisfaction and strength that comes along with a boost to his morale.
    As the leader's image is that of a ruffian, short-tempered man or a bully, not everybody would dare approach easily or talk to him for overall betterment of constituency, improvement in services. Only people will go in form of delegations. 
    No expectations. 'Raw power', the feel of it, is enough. That he represents us, is sufficient.

    3. Being humble, polite or trying to solve problems doesn't help because the grievances are plenty & it's impossible to solve them or bring about a change in even a city. Rather, such a politician is seen as weak and misfit in politics. Be as crude, as hateful as you can (sic)?

    READ: How 'identity, class interest' force us to vote for leader who endangers our future

    4. If a politician is thuggish or a local strongman and has got an image that anybody who dares mess with him, will have his business or career ruined or thrashed or get framed, then that leader is seen as a real strong politician. 
    5. As far as works are concerned, public can gets things done by paying bribe.  But what draws them to personality is the sense of a leader being 'different'. Real authority is a person who is not ordinary, who can break all rules, take on anybody and after hearing his name, others may get intimidated or at least don't take it lightly. A guy who can get away with lawlessness and save his own henchmen!

    6. Should the aim be to become a politician who is feared? Or one who is not answerable to anybody! Fact is that the definition in practical terms is that one has to be a politician who is thuggish and whom no one can make fun of, and if someone does it, he gets beaten by cadre? Then, people really respect the neta. 

    7. The unwritten rule is--don't be a politician who is there to listen to your grievances, who is like a common man, who is affected by deaths, calamities, people's pain. Someone who doesn't need to even bother or resign if kids die in hospital, but be brazen and unfazed by controversies, then, he is seen as someone really powerful, ruthless. Gets respect.

    8. Now, there are several reasons for it. Role of Indian newspapers, especially, Hindi and vernacular papers, in creating image of rogue politicians as 'real men' just like lionizing the rogue cops as 'Singham' is one of the reasons.

    9. The leaders-officials are not seen as just our representatives who are elected by us or those who serve us and citizens don't even dare to make a call to a leader above a councillor rank, forget talking to MLAs, MPs or even questioning them.

    10. On one hand, you may claim that democracy took root in the country but people don't even feel that they are entitled to ask, question the leaders or demand something. Government remains 'maai baap' and no one expects that the basic rights or needs could be fulfilled or that it's job of authorities to take care of the people.

    Besides, majoritarian tendencies in the society, the caste and class divide, the interests of the class that owns newspapers and wields tremendous power, even manages public perception, movements and opinion, are responsible for the situation.

    For more, read PART II