Friday, March 27, 2009

Elections as Spectacles and Cover-Up of Past Deeds

Madani and Raman Pillai are hot subjects in Kerala elections this time: news.

WHAT MATTERS in elections today is success. Hence, there is no use expecting an informed public debate on issues, policies, governance and other matters which in a democracy should get some attention in times when the people are asked to elect their representatives.

But our electoral system has effectively nudged out all such informed public exchanges and instead what we have here is spectacles meant to entertain and get the electors forget to ask uncomfortable questions.

This time in Kerala, the leaders have successfully ensured that any public debate does not take place. We are now talking only about Abdunnasser Madani and his past antics and how a person like K Raman Pillai, once a firebrand Hindutva leader, has turned secular all of a sudden.

Both gentlemen are now in the company of Comrade Pinarayi Vijayan and his Communist Party of India (Marxist), once a party that I belonged to. I have no problem with Madani or Raman Pillai being part of the Left Front, but my problem is when instead of real and substantive issues like the looming economic crisis and the return of millions of people home after losing their jobs in the Gulf, we are not even spending a moment to think about such things.

I was reading all the newspapers and listening to most television debates, and I am convinced the media also has not much time or inclination to raise such issues. Yesterday, India Vision asked me whether this election time would be spent wholly on such non-issues and I expressed my hope that perhaps in the next few weeks things might change, people might force more serious issues into the public debate.

And one of the issues likely to come back to public attention, I am sure, would be that of corruption in public life. We need such a discussion because this is the first time even the topmost leader of our Communist Party is facing corruption charges and his name listed in the accused list in the SNC Lavalin case. Once this returns to our debates, no amount of flogging Madani or Raman Pillai brand of secularism would help them, because we need them to answer for their omissions and commissions in the past.

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