Monday, July 21, 2008

How Politicians Take U-turns, Betray Trust

The days are hot, an unbearable kind of heat, searing, like needles forcibly thrust into the skin, minus the, blood of course. There’s no rain. Where have the rains gone? It came wet the roads, created panic one day, and then vanished. We cursed but we good-naturedly wanted it to last, because without water our dams and lakes would go dry and our electricity supply – precarious as it is – will vanish.

Day after tomorrow is the trust vote of the Congress-led UPA coalition government – a loosely constructed alliance of several parties. The papers are full of news of horse-trading – the buying and selling of members of parliament. A member gets paid Rs 25 crore ($ 5.5 million) to switch parties and vote for the other alliance. Where does this money come from? Who gives parties this huge amount?

Business, who else? Every businessman has his favourite politician, one who can be relied to get things arranged at the highest levels, be it a permission or a concession. According to this article in the BBC, American democratic and republican nominees are turning back on the commitments they made to win votes.

In both cases – in the India that is willing to pay to get a politician to vote for them and in the American version where candidates are willing to go back on their commitment on issues to the electorate – there’s the much touted maligning of politicians as liars and cheats. It’s true that a politician would do anything to stay in power in the Indian case and to get into power as in the US.

In either case the people lose, i.e., you and me.

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