Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that for improving governance, voters were as responsible as political parties for ensuring that the right people get elected to office.
In response, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh pulled out the old saying – people get the governments they deserve – to underscore the need for people to make the “right choice” when choosing their representatives.
Both leaders were quizzed about what they were doing to clean up politics. They agreed that political parties themselves shared a lot of responsibility in this regard but “could not be blamed fully for the status quo approach because our democracy involved numbers.”
With regard to the emergence of an alternative such as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Jaitley said that it remained to be seen whether it was a mere phenomenon or would be reflected in terms of electoral performance.
Jaitley and Singh, however, did not dispute the fact that political parties had lost credibility and that citizens were turning cynical.
“Credibility is definitely important. It is affected when the political parties and leaders do not do what they say,” Singh said. But he also argued that “all parties are fighting complex situations and electoral reforms have to be practical to be very effective.”
Jaitley’s prescription for improving the image of politicians was to “to improve the quality of governance, take India towards a higher growth rate and ensure India is a place where things are done fairly and justice is ensured,”
Asked if the BJP still believed in expecting “one man riding a white horse” – as Rahul Gandhi once chided it - to deliver solutions, Jaitley said, “you need such a leader to deliver on good quality governance and have a vision.”
Singh said governance depended on empowerment of local communities and a “down to approach.” He pointed to the UPA government’s achievements such as introduction of the Right To Education and Right To Information in this regard.
Above all, the people themselves must abide by law, he said.
On the issue of political slander dominating campaigns, Jaitley said he agreed that discourses could be better but “major issues” were also covered. “Please do not take away all spice out of our politics. It will get very boring,” he said. Singh said the media could not escape blame as they tend to highlight them more.