Justice Markandey Katju: Are elections really relevant in India?

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Results of the legislative assembly elections in five states in India, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram, were declared on December 3 and 4. The quest is on for chief ministers of these states. The BJP won a huge majority in the first three states, and the Congress party in Telengana. The Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) won a majority in Mizoram.

I submit that all these developments and activities are irrelevant for the Indian masses.

I have repeatedly said that the test of every political system is one, and only one: does it raise the standard of living of the people? Does it give them better lives?

In that context, the election result or the chief minister is wholly irrelevant. Neither will have any effect on people’s lives. Massive poverty, unemployment, child malnutrition, skyrocketing prices of food and other essential commodities, an almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education, etc, will continue as before.

In the Ayodhyakaand of Tulsidas’s epic poem Ramcharitmanas, the servant Manthara tells Queen Kaikeyi:
Koi nrip hoye hamein ka haani, cheri chaadi ab hob ki rani“, i.e., “How does it matter to me who becomes the king? I am not going to become the Queen.”

Though I do not regard the people of India as Manthara, her words represent their plight in the present system of parliamentary democracy. The politicians, who are the kings in India, will make all kinds of tall promises before the elections to people, who are their servants, only for these promises to be forgotten for the next five years, the moment election results are declared.

The fact is that Indians, like children, love following a Pied Piper of Hamelin. For example, when Indira Gandhi gave the slogan “Garibi hatao” (“Banish poverty”), or when Anna Hazare said “Bhrashtachar hatao” (“End corruption), or when Narendra Modi spoke of “Vikas” (all-round development), or when Rahul Gandhi, who believes he is entitled to India’s throne because he belongs to the royal family, spoke of opening a “Mohabbat ki dukaan” (“A shop of love”) in the ‘Nafrat ka bazaar’ (“Market of hatred”) with an eye on the Muslim vote bank.

Unfortunately, the people of India wake up to the realization that they were taken for a ride only after; as a witch in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth said, “The hurly burly’s done, the battle’s lost and won.”

This is the sad truth about the Indian people. Wisdom, and knowledge of grim realities, dawns on them only after the battle is over.

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