An open letter to India’s political opposition
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Opposition
So you lost again. And this time without even a fight. Each one of you had some giant ego. I do sincerely hope that its crashed enough for you to take a hard look at why you could not represent our mandate. Opposition should be relatively easy in a country like India with a billion aspirations and so little that the state is able to offer its citizens across its inefficient delivery systems. And yet you are failing with predictable regularity now and have started to represent a failed vote if casted in your favor. Should I press the NOTA button instead of leaning on you to present an alternate narrative.
Let me introduce myself at this point. Am a struggling tax-paying Indian who gets reminded of my ordinariness every day that I engage with the system. I watch with amusement tinged with regret as the same people who were close to you and played the system back then are now aggressive apologists for them and currying favors with them. I dont even think that if you were to win, my life would change dramatically because I do not have the skills to play this system. But yet, I am worried.
We do not think that the regimes which ruled India for the better part of its modern existence exactly redeemed themselves for their governance but neither do we justify the hatred which masquerades as cultural nationalism and the bashing which substitutes any demand for a tangible performance metric. We understand the diversity of the country and the tolerance which has to define its tapestry if we are to hold it together. We wish to remain both impatient and alert so that we place at least a modicum of accountability on our rulers. We wish that no one be deified and that all of you at least have to compete to win. One understands that they have a 24*7 election machine, but can’t you ever recover from their googlies now that they are a known commodity.
It is obvious that controlling both the medium and the message helps them dictate the narrative but a lot of us squirm inside as somehow it does not seem right. There is something morally out of sync in all this with our idea of India. Is it our mistake that the grandson of the family is unable to articulate an imperfect yet experienced value system that we still accept broadly ? Or is there a huge gap somewhere else which is being put by default on his shoulders ? ( after all feeding whasapp groups with his jokes makes for interesting work content for them )
Private media houses are obligated to the government at multiple levels and media barons have their political as well as economic interests at mind. There is a jostling in editorial rooms as liberals get edged out against the weight of the tide of commerce and perception. Nationalistic anchors who wage verbal wars on Pakistan from their studio every evening ( ably funded by one of their MPs) are becoming role models for the young journalists as they decode the directions of the blowing wind. To be honest, elections in India have always been played out on non-issues where its easier to emotionally divide the population but the pressure on all of us common people is to reconcile the fading dreams of our everyday life with the rhetorical amplification of “good days”. Most of us want to say, Give me a break — these can’t be good days, but are being forced to go silent.
All the logical nodes in our mind tell us that demonetization for example did no good for all the pain, and yet we hear when they win that its only the corrupt who opposed it and the poor are the ones who benefited from it. We are worried that either we would turn insane with the weight of our own thoughts or banished to some far ( or rather near land ) as anti-nationals. If the judiciary is also penetrated by then, who would be left to fight our battles. We are scared Sirs.
We dont want you to win all the time, but at least give a semblance of a fight. Tell us , be frank, why do you lose almost everywhere? Did demonetization suck all your cash ? Are the good brand agencies taken ? Are you afraid of CBI ? Or prove the EVM tampering ? At least be frank, else we would end up concluding that the poor people of this country are happy to sell their future at the altar of a cocktail of rhetoric and manipulation. Why would they do that ? Answer is simple, that they were not presented effectively with a better alternative which they found credible. At least tell us how do you justify your rout to each other ? Dont tell me you guys are resigned to losing. How would you even remember the taste of a win.
We do know that many of you are personally corrupt, others watch the other way when they see national wealth being siphoned, but we do equally know that the other side is made of the same material. There is something in the public discourse which makes for criminals to enter and thrive in politics. And no, thats not changing just by your rebels ganging up with them. But the point here is that why are their criminals winning with impunity while you are left defending the same. C’mon ! guys, cant you up your act a bit( actually a lot ) for the sake of this democracy. And if I may so suggest, if you really have billions stashed away elsewhere, why not re-invest a fraction of that rather than allowing them to outspend you so much.
We don’t want you to win all the time or that a particular ideology should rule Rajya Sabha and all the States too. In fact that’s the point, we want to it to be vibrant democracy where different people win and act as natural check on the hegemony of any group of people or ideology. ( yes both nationals and at least the so-called anti-nationals too )
Your well wisher
and a disappointed Indian