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Unusual Sincerity


Popular actor and TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty has announced her decision to relinquish membership of the Lok Sabha. She claims she does not intend to remain in politics. She is believed to be unhappy with the treatment meted out to her by the TMC cadre in her constituency. She feels her stint in politics has not matched how she thought the people should be served. Keeping in mind that it could be just a way to pressure the TMC on repeating her as a Lok Sabha candidate, this declaration of political ‘sanyas’, if sincere, would be quite a rare example of conscience trumping ambition. Such sincerity, perhaps, should be seen more in Indian politics. People may not believe it to be so, but she will probably contribute more to society as an actor.

Does the pursuit of politics require specialisation as is the case with other ‘professions’ such as medicine, engineering, management, etc.? Should it take the traditional route of engaging in student politics, trade unionism, adopting the mentorship of senior leaders, before venturing into the legislative arena? Does lateral entry from other professions at the top levels contribute to more comprehensive governance? The Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils provide a platform for those who may have contributed in other professions for long and thus can provide valuable input on law-making and governance. How right is it, though, for political leaders to induct friends and relatives as Lok Sabha MPs, overlooking their lack of credentials for the job? Then there are professions that require strict political neutrality such as journalism and the judiciary which should cause them to keep an arm’s length from membership of political parties. There are also persons of eminence who should not side with one or the other political ideology, as they are revered by all.

The performance record of all those who have been inducted because of the clout they have as film stars, sportspersons, etc., is pretty dismal. While some like Amitabh Bachchan quit on realising this, others have persisted even without putting in the minimum required attendance, leave alone furthering their constituencies’ interests. At the same time, there are quite a few examples of bureaucrats, former members of the Armed Forces, and other luminaries who have done very well. Perhaps, the difference is between dynastic parties and those with structured organisations. The latter can maintain the balance between popularity and purpose.