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Rage against the Machine

We’ve a right to be angry with politicians. But blaming politics for all ills is just flailing about.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2011 22:49 IST

Let’s just say that the political class isn’t everyone’s favourite folks these days. You don’t have to be an Anna Hazare or those milling around him to dip into your anti-politician sensibilities and launch forth about the decline and dysfunction of the political class. A simmering distaste against politicians has been sloshing about inside many of us, especially over the past so many months when those entrusted with the job of doing good for the people, have been caught doing good for a much smaller group. So, the rage against the Machine is understandable. But is there any practical purpose of this rage? Apart from airing one’s view on the matter of smarmy politicians and conflating their severe shortcomings with the whole profession, is there, by the way of constructive criticism, something that tweeting messages such as ‘Mera neta chor hai’ (My leader is a thief) and the crowds at Jantar Mantar genuinely address? Yes, they address a need to take the matter of cleaning up the political system a bit more seriously.

Some of Mr Hazare’s supporters do state that they are railing against ‘the sinning, not against the sinners’. But there is a larger crowd who, using the anti-politician, anti-Lokpal Bill draft agitation, have not seen — or cared to see — any such distinction. For this clubbing off rotten apples with all apples, the political class is singularly to blame. But after identifying the whole lot as scoundrels, then what? It’s one thing to make a point by disallowing Opposition political leaders to ride piggyback on an anti-government, anti-political system agitation. It’s quite another to want to throw the baby of parliamentary politics out with the scummy bathwater. This has not been the case, but in amorphous, chaotic mass-based protests such as the one on display in Mr Hazare’s camp in Delhi, there aren’t many signs that agitators want a clean government as opposed to no government. The talk of a citizenry’s rule sounds all very revolutionary and Twitter-friendly, but the charms of parliamentary democracy are far from being outdated. And there’s a reason why even the mob is suspicious of mob rule.

Mr Hazare’s amazing ability to act as a lightning rod is not to be doubted. He himself is clear that his agitation is specific to an agenda — the formation of a representative Lokpal Bill Draft committee — and that it’s not a mimsy borogove for Jabberwocks to aimlessly trample about in. And what is being sought is more order in our judicial, executive and legislative systems, not less. Anarchy can certainly provide a temporary thrill. But the ‘boring’ bits, once cleansed with a purpose, are the ones that provide the best way of serving the people. And the best part is that our political system has been tried and tested and it works. All it needs is a sincere, thorough servicing.