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Introspection: Any Takers?
Following the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recently held national elections, all the leaders and representatives of the Indian National Congress(INC) were unanimous in pronouncing that this was the time for introspection. Accordingly, the party's leadership went into a huddle and had a so-called introspection meeting. The other parties, which had also received a drubbing at the polls, have held similar meetings. JD (U) in Bihar and DMK in Tamil Nadu are two such case studies. A very predictable reaction on the part of the losers.
Mr.Nitish Kumar, former CM, Bihar
Like Parties Like Response
Rahul Gandhi who led the campaign for INC and Sonia Gandhi, President, INC, owned responsibility for the party's near decimation and offered to resign from their party positions. Their offers were turned down by the working committee of the party, with the loyal party cadre staging a spirited show of support for their leaders. Notwithstanding the dismal performance of the party, its leaders had to be 'protected', they avowed; reasons for the failure lay elsewhere. The leaders promptly fell in line with the party's wishes, nay, diktat, and agreed to continue with the onerous task of rebuilding the party and leading it to its lost glory.
M.K.Stalin of DMK who had fought a valiant battle in Tamil Nadu against the formidable Amma, offered to resign from the post of Treasurer of the party which had come croppers at the hustings. He was advised by his father who is the party supremo, to take back his resignation and continue in office. The dutiful son and disciplined party worker that he was, Stalin consented to continue to carry the albatross around his neck and tirelessly work for further strengthening the party!
In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of JD (U) resigned from his post and had a junior party colleague installed in his place. Wait, the story is not over. He went out of office but with the remote! If you can call the shots from the wing without having to own up the actions of the government, why not? How very convenient!
Three different states, three different parties, three different sets of dramatis personnae, and yet the same script, same lines and same predictable ending. No hidden surprises nor any startling shocks. After wiping their tears and blowing their noses, every one nicely settles down in their comfortable positions. The show goes on like before.
Dissection of Introspection Meetings
What was the purpose of such an introspection meeting, any way? It was an excellent photo opportunity, for starters. Besides, when the victors were busy, sharing the spoils of a spectacular victory, you could not be seen sulking and licking your wounds or mooning over your loss in hopelessness or despair. Notwithstanding your bleeding innards, you had to put up a brave face for the flashing cameras.
Now that the frills and fanciful details have been taken care of with utmost alacrity, let us see how the parties got down to resolving the substantive matter. They had to find a plausible reason for the massive defeat. Then came up a brilliant reply. Their policies, programmes and roadmap for the country's future development had not been presented and explained to the people the right way. There was a disconnect between the party and the people. Now, who was responsible for this deplorable lapse? Anybody but the leader. Maybe, the second, third or umpteenth rung of the party hierarchy. How much more top heavy could a system or organization get?
Denial of Truth
Politicians of the losing parties were not ready to accept, even after a crushing defeat, that either their policies and programmes had been summarily rejected by the people or they had been voted out of power on account of the numerous scams and scandals in which they had been involved or due to a deadly combination of both the reasons. They were immaculate and infallible! This would imply that the people had made an error of judgment. Such an insidious mindset was the real cause of their downfall. How could digging deeper help one getting out of a pit?
Introspection and the Voter
What does all this mean to a lay voter? To him, introspection meetings seeem to be a perfectly normal political exercise. The enlightened voter would, however, scoff at such a blatantly insidious charade, not because of cynicism reserved for losers or an inflated ego freshly acquired by participating in the world's biggest election carnival. The reason for such a skeptical reaction is pragmatism and the voter's ability to see through the machinations of the wily politicians.
The after-effects of being stripped off the glory of office and trappings of power could be devastating. Politicians are, by and large, very normal people, with their fair share of failings and foibles which they amply demonstrated in their pre-poll speeches replete with bitchings and bickerings, curses and abuses. Such people don't have the fortitude and moral courage to take the punch on the chin and, what is more, to carry out a course correction.
How did their arch enemy succeed? By sheer treachery, of course! The people were tricked into voting for him by means of clever marketing of false claims of development!
Such insidious palter! Why wouldn't the politicians give the electorate credit for being capable of thinking for themselves? The Indian voter has proved, time and again, his political acumen and ability to see through the ephemeral quality of the poll promises and false propaganda of the politicians, by trouncing incumbent governments sitting pretty.
People do gather in big numbers for election meetings and road shows, probably because they have nothing much to do, including a job! Which right thinking man or woman, whose time is worth money in terms of his/her vocation or employment, would choose to neglect their work and go out into the blazing sun to watch inheritors of, or claimants to, power, flailing their arms with a flourish or wave their well-manicured hands vigorously or trading abuses and curses with their opponents? Politicians pander to their own egos with such stage-managed shows and end up believing that people love them.
Reasons for Downfall
Not learning lessons from their own mistakes or from the successful strategy of their opponents, not giving credit to the voter for intelligence and arrogance and inflated egos are some of the important reasons for the politicians' defeat. Politicians are much too narcissistic to find flaws in their own conduct and behaviour.
Formula For Success
Mr.Narendra Modi said in one of his pre-poll television interviews that if one did not understand him, it was because one did not know Mr.Modi well. Such a disarmingly simple and candid statement! It was such humility, candour, simple and uncomplicated approach to issues and above all, his successful track record in transforming Gujarat into a model state of development, that endeared him to people who voted for him en masse. Political parties which have lost out would do well to learn a lesson or two from Mr.Modi's success formula rather than indulge in carefully orchestrated self flagellation exercises.
© 2014 Kalyanaraman Raman