Friday, April 24, 2009

Political Analysys of an Aam Aadmi

I was recently in Uttarakhand for a vacation. Just after leaving Delhi on a hired car, I started talking to our driver for the entire trip. Each vacation that I take is something like a realization and learning experience for me. I always want to know more about the local culture, cuisine and the sentiments and emotions of the people. Apart from seeing the new places I always feel enlightened to mix with the people around me. Our driver, Prakash, hailing from Himachal, seemed to be a very well informed and aware person. 

I can’t remember how exactly the discussions turned towards politics, but within the first hundred kilometres from Delhi we’re already discussing about Mayawati - might be because we’re travelling through UP. I asked him whether he likes Mayawati. Without giving a direct answer, he started saying that things seem to have deteriorated under Mayamati - cases of hooliganism (goondagarti) seems to have increased substantially, development seems to have ceased and many more things. But then he also mentioned that she does have a fair chance to become the next Prime Minister. That was quite a contradictory statement, provided the fact that he feels Mayamati hasn’t improved anything in UP. But then his explanation was an eye opener for me. It was quite surprising to have come from a driver. Had this kind of analysis come from Prannoy Roy or Barkha Dutt I won’t have been surprised. But coming from a driver, whom we might categorize as an ‘Aam Aadmi’ was indeed very interesting.

His analysis was very simple. Mayamati has understood the psyche of the people. She knows very well that illiterate people in UP won’t appreciate the long term impact of making roads, setting up industries or colleges. For a really poor villager all these things don’t have any meaning as long as they see a direct impact of these in their lives. On the contrary if a politician does a petty thing like getting a really low paying job even for one villager or help someone (even through illegally means) in constructing his house or getting a water line for someone, even that becomes more important than making roads and setting up of industries which can create employment for so many people. Out of 1000 people even if a single person is benefitted he can influence the remaining 999 people by arousing a false hope that the same politician might do the same for themselves. That’s exactly what keeps Mayawati winning - by giving a false sense of security and hope. I was already quite amazed with this level of analysis. But what came next from him just bowled me off. He kept on saying, “Just see how much work BJP does. Where ever they go they make roads, setup so many industries and most importantly they setup educational institutions. But common people in the villages never see the long term impact of this”. That’s what he feels is the main reason why in spite of doing so much development BJP still fails to win elections. It should be noted that his scope of knowledge is limited to Delhi, UP, Haryana, Punjab and, to some extent, Rajasthan.

We’d started from Delhi at around 11:30am and by 4:30pm we’d covered the entire stretch of route through UP and entered into Uttarakhand, a BJP ruled state. The first place was Udham Singh Nagar - the erstwhile Rudrapur which has been rechristened recently. The industrial town of Pantnagar is also nearby. Immediately after entering into Uttarakhand the condition of the roads improved. It was just a coincidence that, due to the proximity to Pantnagar, there were a number of industries all around us alongside the road. But our driver pointed to all those factories and told me, “That’s what BJP does where ever they go”.

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