Saturday, 17 May 2014

Politics and Morality

The verdict is out and it is decisive. But it still begs an answer to a question that I have often been asked by friends and family as a staunch BJP supporter (with or without NaMo, just to clarify). Are the riots of 2002 so easily forgotten? How can you vote for a party and a man known to be responsible for genocide? After all, Hitler promised to pull Germany out of an economic quagmire too, did he not? Look where that got the world!

Completely valid questions. But here’s my thinking.

It is tantamount to falling into a propagandist trap to accuse ONLY the BJP+RSS of Communalism. They have been communal, no doubt. But a closer look at history would show that the Congress is equally responsible for playing the Communal card. The only difference is this - the Congress has played it in favour of communities with small numbers while the BJP+RSS has played it in favour of the larger community. The Congress has played the communal card under the garb of secularism and the BJP+RSS combine has played it openly. Fear has been created because of the presence of numbers on one side. Ideally in a secular state, religion is a personal matter, to be observed in the privacy of the home. In India, in the name of protection of minorities, we have made religion an issue of state. We have different laws for different communities, creating systemic discrimination. For the state, all citizens should be subject to the same law on matters concerning civil society. But what we have been running is a protection racket. The Congress created the fear and then the “solution” to that fear as well. If Polygamy is a matter of religious freedom, so is Sati (I don’t condone either, for the record). Why is it “secular” to allow one but regressive to allow the other? If the state must interfere, let us allow it to interfere equally in all communities. Let us have an uniform civil code (something the BJP has always championed, by the way). Let us make marriage and other social contracts a civil matter and not a religious matter (as far as the law is concerned. Feel free to have your ceremonies!).

On the accusation of violence, why is okay to forgive something that happened 67 years ago or 30 years go but not forgive something that happened 12 years ago or 22 years ago? Has not the Congress had a hand in the post-partition carnage or the 1984 anti-Sikh riots? Has not the Congress violated the letter and spirit of Democracy by imposing emergency and steering India towards dictatorship in 1975? So, how is all that okay while it is not okay to move beyond the 1992 or 2002 riots? When we question or critique we must do so objectively, in a non-partisan manner. And if our answer is that it is not Okay, then it must be so for the BJP and the Congress equally. And I unequivocally say that Violence against the Citizenry is NOT Okay. Irrespective of the guise in which it is practised. I say it was wrong of Narendra Modi to stand by and allow the Gujarat Carnage (even if he did not play an active role in it). But at the same time, I also say that it was wrong of the Congress to field candidates who actively participated in the 1984 riots in Delhi.

Both of India’s two large national parties are Communal. Just in different ways. If I have to pick between the two, I would always pick the one that was openly communal as against the one that acts on the sly. That way, I at least know what I am picking. An Honest Thief is better than a Dishonest Thief. Only slightly, but still better.

Oh but, there is an alternative you say. Why not NOTA (none of the above) or the AAP. Here I’ll be honest. I was enthusiastic about the AAP. Till the Delhi elections. A party that cannot provide governance in a state the size of city, albeit a large one, is not one I would trust with the reigns of the country. Neither AAP nor NOTA are credible options for governance. Voting NOTA is akin to voting for anarchy. Voting AAP is to beg an election within 6 months with huge cost to the exchequer and therefore, the taxpayer a.k.a Me and You. Thank you, but No Thanks.

I won’t even get into corruption because everyone, including the AAP, yes them of the broomsticks of cleanliness, is corrupt. If you disagree, please go do your research on some of the candidates that the AAP fielded in the State and National elections. No points to anyone there.

If not the Congress and AAP, why the BJP specifically? Well, economics is one compelling reason. I would rather vote for a party with a right-of-center approach to economics. I am an unabashed capitalist and believe it is the only economic structure that supports both prosperity and freedom. How and why is another discussion for another time. Less government and more governance would be reason number two. And finally, unlike Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal, Narendra Modi at least has a demonstrated ability to govern, govern well at that and bring development. In the last 12 years, he has also shown the willingness to put aside the communal aspect of his party’s ideology and focus instead on economics and prosperity. It allows me to hope that he will do the same at the national stage as against an inept Rahul Gandhi whose priority would have been to fill his already burgeoning Swiss Bank Accounts.

Elections are about governance. And in a  scenario where there is no single completely Moral Candidate or Party, I believe it my responsibility to vote for someone who will bring good governance to the country. I reiterate that in my scheme of things NOTA is not an option for if everyone were to vote NOTA, we would be left with no government. Anarchy might work in a small limited community of 1 but it is not an option in a country of 1.3 billion people.

And so, for all of the above, it seems to me that Morality lies in voting for someone who promises governance, stability, security and development. Morality lies in voting for the party that is at least willing to talk about what matters most to the citizenry.

No comments: