An absurd drama, which could very well be called ‘Take me back’, is being enacted in the capital — the protagonist, who left a political party in a huff because he was denied a ticket in order to contest the Lok Sabha elections, is now likely to return to the party fold. The simple storyline is representative of the superficial and unprincipled politics that have been witnessed in the recent past. The first part of this drama shows an angry, ageing politician demanding what he wants, and when refused, threatening to abandon his party and stepping out to fight the election alone. He traverses the length and breadth of the constituency he was contesting from, trying to convince the people that he has broken away from the party on ‘principle’, and not because of his greed for office.
In the second part, the politician begins to believe that he will win a resounding victory, and prove how valuable he was to the party that rejected his demands. The sub-plot in this drama shows that those watching the campaign are convinced he will lose. The third part begins with him having lost at the hustings. However, his desperation to remain in the capital compels him to abandon the ‘principles’ that drove him away from his old party, and he begins to lobby for a sinecure that will ensure that he can remain important in the scheme of things in New Delhi.
It is profoundly sad to watch aged men and women who are unable to let go and pass the baton on to the next generation. It reveals a deep-seated insecurity as well as an arrogance that is undesirable in an age when most Indians are young and energetic, and want to fulfil their aspirations. It is also inexcusable to use ‘principles’ as an excuse to maintain status quo. This insistence by senior leaders to cling to their gaddis, even when they have lost the right to do so, holds India back.
What aged stalwarts should do is retire with grace, share their experiences and good sense, encourage and support those who are next in line and accept old age with dignity. This would be a good example to set for the future. Trying hard to obtain sinecures leaves a bad taste in the mouth and creates despair in the minds of the people who watch these events unfold. If these ‘jobs’ in New Delhi did not include bungalows and gardens as perks, I wonder how many people would lobby for them as hard as they do.
There has been a lot of lamenting by members of the former government who lost the elections, and now have to move out of their government accommodation. The most common refrain is: “Poor so-and-so is looking to rent a home, and finding the move so difficult.” Well, most professionals in India also rent homes, and spend their hard-earned money to live their lives. What is so unusual about that? Leaving their ivory towers and descending to the real world of citizens — even if they are the most privileged — will help these ‘leaders’ see where things had gone wrong owing to their faulty policies and corrupt practices. Passing on the baton, joining ordinary citizens in the flow of life, and getting through each day without the aid of the lal batti and other privileges are bound to make these people far more compassionate towards their fellow Indians than they have ever been in the past. Their pompousness will disappear.
Much like the political space, the press is going through a change as well. Many high-profile television anchors and editors are being shuffled about. Other people are taking charge of media organizations, different levels of management are being rearranged, and the editorial staff of various organizations are being re-positioned to ‘meet’ new demands. The times are truly changing.