P is for People

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Why The Righteous Do Not Get Into Politics

 

We are fiercely critical of the current political class, which inhibits moral corruptness in all their actions. Our critique is quite understandable and has a positive connotation of hope. Getting into politics was beyond my wildest dreams. But it is this critique of the system by the people that have given me the confidence that change is possible and Bihar is now ready to weed out the wrong politicians from the system. My Alma Matter (LSE) believes that to change things, we need to understand the causes of things. As there is no denying that this is at the core of change, let us begin with the most critical and urgent analysis- How does the incompetent and morally corrupt get into office and become policy-makers in Bihar. And what is so loathsome about politics that restrict decent people to participate in it (both vote or contest)? Furthermore, what is the reason for the decline of morality in politics? These are not just complicated basic questions, but these are also the answer to the big question- How can Bihar get better, from the last to probably a well-functioning first.

 

Our model of governance is “democracy”, so there is no denying that whatever form politics takes, we, the people are at the centre of it. After all, there can be no government without votes. So today I am daring to discuss us ‘the people’. It is daring because firstly politicians today lack the intellectual capability to discuss the causes of things that require urgent action. Secondly, for them, politics is deception where all they do to win is to please voters(and thus ignore substantive policy-making). A common phrase that indicates it is ‘by hook or crook’”. My idea of politics is the opposite of it. Neither am I going to please everyone because that would mean a politics of pretence, nor am I going to do anything that I do not consider right. I do not subscribe to the philosophy “end justifies the means”. Politics in theory (and in most of the advanced democratic countries in the world) means policy-making for redistribution, and it is time that we abide by these rules of politics in practice. A political action plan is presented by politicians who know how the scarce public-money should be distributed to avoid the misuse or misdirection of funds and voters vote (sanction) based on this plan. Unfortunately, this is not what happens right now, and it is not just the politicians who are responsible for this.   

 

There are two kinds of voters discussed by the authorities of politics in academia all around the world: the core voters and the swing voters. Recently I have met a third kind of voters in India. People who do not want to become voters (I was one of them). Now, these people can be further divided into two categories — one who has an intense hatred for politics. So the day you get into politics they may develop intense hatred for you naturally: “there’s another one of them”; “you LOT are not trustworthy, I have seen many”. And, the other kind who may tell you “ok I will vote but what will I get in return”.

 

The core voters are the reason why corrupt politicians win. Their client networks that depend on a relationship of “exchange of favours” are powerful, and this network makes them the ruling class that restricts others from entering politics. These networks control the entire governance mechanism, and Indian politics is widely researched to be working on these networks stemming from various identities. Unarguably, these networks do not seek knowledge of policy-making because the resources are directed only towards the people of their network. The other kind ‘the swing voters’ are mostly found in urban centre. They fail to vote the right people due to the lack of capable alternatives.

The third kind of people is the central reason why good people do not enter politics. Why we are being governed by politicians, who do not even know the meaning of policy-making, let alone the process. The reason for the intense hatred is understandable and reasonable as all the politicians have been huge failures vis-à-vis political and social change. But what is unreasonable is being opposed to voting. Interestingly, half of the population falls into this category. Undoubtedly, this group is also more sensitive to corrupt policy practices, and that is a remarkable strength of these potential voters. This which is extremely discouraging for good people to con- test elections is also the reason why there is still hope for change. However, it will not be an exaggeration to say that unintentionally they are also the underlying reason for the underdevelopment of Bihar. As a Bihari, it pains me to accept that we are not doing well as a state. I, like many others, find it appealing to argue that Bihar is not doing badly. But neither is that the truth nor will it do anyone (especially Bihar) any good. We may be happy for a minute but, we will only be deceiving ourselves. People involved in policy-making all over the world know the reality and the people who suffer because of poor governance in Bihar live the reality. However, if the 50 per cent of voters (who know that politicians are deceptive and corrupt) vote, they have the power to change the entire game of policy-making and the future of Bihar.

 

The left few who ask ‘what will I get from voting you’ are not the people I am interested in as their corrupt demands will make them core voters of one or the other client network sooner or later. Moreover, they will cease to exist the day the former ‘non-voting’, ‘not-interested’ voters start participating. Corruption cannot defeat the 50 per cent of the population. “Plurals” is a platform to unite these people who (have long ago rejected dirty politics in their way) are not easily identifiable and lack a platform to connect, unlike the core voters.

 

The people who do not want to be voters or do not vote are the drivers of change. Let me answer the question that this group is the most skeptical about “why should you be trusted”; “another one from the LOT”; “I have no interest in politics”. As your representative (that is if you decide to vote me) the one thing that you must know about me is I do not believe in pleasing everyone, and the only thing that my politics will exhibit is policy action. I do not believe in flattery but being straightforward. Moreover, I do not want to talk at the voters but talk to the voters. So, candidly your doubtfulness is both discouraging and re-assuring as it reflects that you are sensitive to bad politics.

I have (probably foolishly, as ALL the people I know very politely tell me) a firm belief in the people of Bihar and Bihar. All the authorities  on politics (based on rigorous evidence-based research) suggest that people in Bihar vote due to clientelistic networks. However, my research concluded that the underlying reason behind these networks is development. Unfortunately, politicians do not offer anything positive and voters wisely chose the best from what they are offered and therefore it is illogical to blame voters when there is such a scarcity of good leadership in Bihar. Consequently, the right people will be elected to the office when the right people enter politics that is when there is an alternative. However, both my  belief and finding is futile  if the 50 percent of population continues to be doubtful and doesn’t vote.

I respect the disbelief that people have in politics. I am one of you. I am challenging politicians because I am tired of being deceived by them. Politics is always a letdown, unfortunately with- out any exception. However, if I can believe in you and take this leap of faith by giving rational potential voters an alternative, you can also take a leap of faith by believing in me. If you assess my credentials wisely, there are strong indications that I cannot be one from the LOT. There are five things that we must examine in a representative rationally: moral integrity, knowledge, credentials, the experience of policy-making (directed by expertise) and most importantly, their manifesto. We have a history of voting people who lack all the five and therefore doubting my intensions is discouraging because all I have as an individual are these five factors.

Plato has famously said that “the penalty that good people pay for not being interested in politics (and not voting) is to be governed by people worse than themselves” and Bihar stands testimony of his statement. So, not being interested in politics at this point when we can change the future of Bihar is not very wise. Moreover, whether we like it or not, politics is a significant part of our life. It affects us from the moment we wake up until we sleep at night. The policy makers decide everything that you do, therefore, taking no interest in politics does us no good and is being ignorant about the real meaning and role of politics. There is a lot at stake, for both you and me, so if I can take that leap of faith and believe in you all I can tell you is take a chance and take that leap of faith to trust me. If you still cannot trust me, choose none of the above (NOTA), but we must become a voter and do not let the undeserving win AGAIN. We must not be indirectly responsible for misery- uncountable number of deaths and inhumane living condition of the innocent unprivileged people.

Pushpam Priya Choudhary