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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 32

An Open Letter to the UPA Government from an Independent

Wednesday 30 July 2008, by Nina Dey Gupta

The ‘Trust Vote’ has been cast and won by 19 votes on July 22 but at what price?? The distrust of the government by the people does not decrease in the awareness of the immoral ladder used to acquire the ‘magical’ number for survival. Post-Left withdrawal of support, the ‘life-savers’ who kept you from drowning and will keep you afloat (hopefully!) till the next General Election a few months from now, come from an amorphous group and it certainly did not behove a great party as the Congress, with an inheritance of perpetual values that was its post-independence bank balance. We are instead witness to each and every value being torn to shreds—why should the Congress of all political parties believe so strongly in the process of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’? Certainly the party must carry pride on its shoulder being an infant of the freedom movement, now grown into an adult (hopefully) and passed the adolescent phase of learning from its own and others mistakes. But it appears otherwise, as it seems to be suffering from prolonged adolescent pangs.

What Rajiv Gandhi gave to the nation during his woefully brief political tenure of six years, was immense and superior. His honesty and sincerity was truly transparent. On assuming the mantle of Prime Minister in 1985 he was mentally and physically consumed to alter the decadent culture that had crept into the Congress party, besides laying a strong foundation for liberalising India and placing it on the world IT (Information Technology) map—his greatest gift to the nation. During his life- time he refused ‘wheeling dealing’ to stay on in power. He remains the last Prime Minister who actually practised ethics in politics, after his grandfather’s demise in 1964. The party fabric or calibre has not been the same since his premature assassination in 1991 falling prey to national and international intrigues.

In response to a congratulatory letter by this writer in 1985, Rajiv Gandhi wrote the following about the overwhelming victory and the magical number of trust votes he had obtained, the very first in Congress history:

…………I do not regard this as my personal victory, but as a victory for Congress policies, principles and ideals. The people have given a resounding mandate for national unity, a clean and purposive government, and faster transformation…..

The party lost its magic after his demise. Has any introspection been done? A great party should never yield itself to compete and imitate the lowly tactics of the lessor known new-born babes in the wood. The policy of the UPA must be a holistic one—value ridden all the way down the ladder to the cadre—from local to global. No faltering of steps is going to be acceptable to the electorate. This writer can state this with some anthenticity as she had taken a plunge at the Lok Sabha hustings in 2004, as an Independent candidate from the New Delhi parliamentary constituency. Having been totally upset with the communal party spreading disharmony and unrest within the nation, I was out there discussing with the people, the logic of getting such a party back again in power. The common man’s logic was:

both the parties are using unethical tactics to get our votes—bribing us with cash and liquour. We are not even aware of who is standing from which party. We only know the symbols of Panja and Phool, it’s always either of the two. They compete well in bribing us.

I was totally floored by these statements and honestly very dejected. There are many other experiences this writer had, but that is not relevant here. I knew soon enough that the party would come a cropper. Neither of the two national parties was aware of what the outcome was to be. The choice was between the devil and the deep sea!

However by 2005 the Congress lost one of its ardent supporters. I had grown increasingly disillusioned regarding the genuineness of its intentions, which became questionable in all its policy fronts—the party whether it stood for Right, Left or Centre, the distinction was certainly getting blurred. Its right hand didn’t know what the left was doing. The policies had turned into a pendulum—with time ticking away…granted that its survival is zero without alliances, but it could at least take the lead in value-ridden practice in politics.

With an illiterate mass milieu, it becomes the ruling elite’s responsibility to educate the masses on its various policy strategies especially those issues which concern them, through vernacular newspapers and other print or audio-visual media. The DAVP (Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity) had very visible materials for educating the lay man—through Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s dispensation. Today the materials have got more glossy and printed and distributed for the selective few. The lay or common man should not be made so easily expendable. The policies should be people and citizen-friendly at all government institutions. The Non-Resident Indian is treated with more kindly and king-ly gesture!

I conclude this letter with the six points dileanated in my Manifesto during the 14th Lok Sabha election campaign:

“I believe:

• in the restoration of human dignity in the normal fabric of life and in the socio-political system;

• in secular education for peace and harmony as a basic need;

• in the minimum levels of living standards for all to precede the minimum levels of learning;

• in a system of economic production by the masses instead of mere mass production of goods;

• in vocational training and employment for the needy and the disadvantaged;

• in health education for the youth and the elderly through non-formal education.”

This writer hopes that a few of the above points be included in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government, and that fewer ‘crutches’ be used in the formation of future governments.

Jai Hind!

Dr Nina Dey Gupta

A former Senior Associate Professor teaching Education in the Developing Countries at the University of Delhi, Dr Nina Dey Gupta contested the 2004 Lok Sabha elections as an Independent candidate from the New Delhi consituency.

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