Honest and educated people should join politics is easier said than done!
In December 2018, I was in Chennai playing Winter Nationals Bridge Tournament with my son. We had an interesting conversation with a cab driver while commuting to the venue from our guest house.
As usual I started the conversation asking about the political situation in Tamil Nadu. The driver seemed happy as if his wish had got fulfilled.
"Amma gone, Karuna gone," he said, "Nobody does anything. We, the Tamils, are suffering. I am an engineer, but I have to drive a cab because there is no job."
"Amma and Karuna are not the only ones. Why don't you try BJP?" I asked.
He immediately refuted and said, "BJP is dividing the nation. The party only works for Gujarat and North India, but does nothing for South India."
"Then why don't you vote for Congress?" I asked.
"What Sir? You seem to be highly educated and still talking about Congress? Don't even mention about that party. They only loot and create disturbance in society. Congress is the worst party, Sir."
My son interjected, "What about Rajanikant or Kamal Hasan?"
He looked surprised by the mention of the above names. But then a sense of happiness could be visible in his face. After all, it is a great sense of satisfaction to anyone when people from outside the state talk about personalities of the state.
But his reply was not what I was expecting. He said, "Film stars will win some votes, but they are also useless."
Running out of options, I finally said, "That means you prefer NOTA as it seems you don't like any political party."
His response surprised me the most.
"No, Sir. You are forgetting Kejriwal."
"You know Kejriwal? It is a Delhi based party. How do you know anything about him or his party?
"Sir, in our local paper, there is regular advertisement of what he is doing in Delhi. He is an honest man, Sir, and made a party recently and became CM. He will be our PM too. In Tamil Nadu also, we need honest and educated people to join politics and do some work for people.
"Honest politician is more of an oxymoron. How do you assess honesty and how do you know Kejriwal is honest? I asked.
"I have not heard any corruption charge against him, Sir. If you know, tell me."
I preferred not to tell to spoil his mood. There have been quite a few accusations against Kejriwal. But every politician has been accused of one thing or the other. Accusations are not proofs unless substantiated in a court of law.
He smiled triumphantly. I let him enjoy his moment.
I did not probe further. He gave examples of how Tamil Nadu is suffering right from farmer crisis, Tamil Telugu conflict in jobs, Kaveri water dispute, unemployment, corruption and more during the half an hour journey. I was amazed by his knowledge and oratory skills.
Then he said, "Sir, I do not know whether Kejriwal is honest. My point is honest and educated people should join politics. All the current lot are bad. We are only choosing the lesser evil."
I nodded and got off paying the rent.
He had a point. But it is easier said than done. Honest and educated people cannot join politics as the obstacles are too difficult to overcome. Kejriwal has spoiled whatever the chance the honest people had, because voters can find the difference between Kejriwal of IAC (India Against Corruption) movement and Kejriwal of today. From "Sab Mile Hue hain Jee" (Everyone is corrupt) to "Hame Bhi Saath Mila Lo Jee" (Let me be in the corrupt alliance), Kejriwal has changed his stance and lost his credibility.
Any honest person willing to come forward to join politics will face the first hurdle as everyone will say, "Look, another Kejriwal in the making."
When that hurdle is crossed somehow, then another will stare at the new aspirant, i.e. money. In elections money plays an important part in winning votes. There are sizable voters who vote for cash. No honest person will ever want to buy votes. Even if someone does, then will he remain honest as he has to recover the expenditure incurred during election with interest?
Even if someone wins an election purely by merit and honesty, he cannot remain honest as the political pond is full of dirty fishes. Either he becomes dirty or leaves politics.
Sometimes I despise seeing the quality of MLAs and MPs we have. Some of them cannot even read their oaths. Most of them have criminal records. If these people are lawmakers of India, then we are on a downward spiral.
Sometimes I think to join politics to serve the nation and the next moment I decide against it considering the obstacles. There are thousands like me. The Chennai cab driver's wish cannot be fulfilled and it is a big shame.
Fortunately there are some politicians who have not sold their conscience and thus our country is surviving somehow. But unless there is a course correction to encourage honest and educated people to join politics, our survival will be at a stake.Having said that, I still believe it is easier said than done.