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Political Pandering


Politicians’ utterances, particularly when aspiring for power, reflect their desired voters’ profile. It is one thing to be concerned about genuine problems faced by a section of society, quite another to encourage their clannish sentiments directed against others. When an Akhilesh Yadav – presently a strong contender for the UP Chief Ministership from among opposition leaders – denigrates the work done by Indian companies to develop indigenous vaccines against Covid-19, describing them as BJP-vaccines, what understanding does he have of his responsibilities as a leader? He surely doesn’t have his followers’ welfare at heart, who will have taken his objections seriously. Then, of course, he gets his father and himself vaccinated, revealing how politically short-sighted he was.

Now, completely uncaring of the enormous change EVMs have brought to the electoral process – particularly in the context of India’s burgeoning population – he has promised to do away with the machines if he comes to power in UP. He can’t do that, of course, but he believes his followers are dumb enough to believe that. He also thinks members of his party– almost entirely comprising his caste brethren – want the old days back when it was possible to suppress votes of rival castes and stuff ballot boxes. He seems quite opposed to introduction of technology in governance and it can only be imagined what his approach has been and will be, when in power, to new ideas and initiatives.

This pandering to what he believes are the prejudices and beliefs of his targeted voters is disrespectful to the common people. Of course, it emerges from unconscious acceptance of social norms, just like his father Mulayam Singh’s ‘ladkon say galti ho jaati hai’ remark about rape. People should be chary of voting for him – even for other reasons such as dislike for the present dispensation – as it would encourage him to think of them like that.

Sadly, this approach is common among many wishing to find supporters. Instead of displaying a better understanding of politics and current times, as well as the aspirations of young people, they tend to hark back to a world ‘broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls’. They mock the dreams of others for a better world. Instead of having dreams of their own, they just sink into the ‘dreary sands of dead habit’. Words that should come from ‘the depth of truth’ are just meant to deceive, to obtain some tiny advantage in the passing moment. The people certainly deserve better.