Monday, May 27, 2024

VPP’s expulsion overdrive


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Three former members of the Voice of Peoples’ Party (VPP) who evidently resigned from the Party some months ago but refrained from making public their resignations since the Lok Sabha election was in the offing and they did not wish to create controversies, are now being expelled immediately after the elections were done and dusted. The right thing to do would have been for the VPP to accept their resignations graciously. Any political party that does not accommodate dissenting voices and whose leaders believe they must have the last word will reach a point when they must bend or break. It is possible that some members feel a sense of claustrophobia by certain stances taken by the Party such as an overt reference to religion at all public meetings which in many ways mimics the BJP’s Hindutva position. The dangers of using a particular religion in a country as diverse as India and even in a State like Meghalaya is fraught since there are people of different beliefs who feel excluded when a political party uses religion as a bait.
In a multi-party democracy that India is, politicians are constantly looking for a party that best represents their interests and those of their vote banks. When they feel that a political party they belong to tends to alienate their voters then they shift to a party that is more accommodating of differences. Also, politicians by and large have accepted the fact that ‘clean politics’ is a mirage since political parties invariably need to spend to accommodate people’s needs, especially those of the poor who come to them with request for medical assistance, sometimes even for a mortuary van or an ambulance because they do not have the reach to avail these basic necessities. If an MLA claims that he/she is pursuing the path of clean politics and therefore does not have the means to assist his/her constituents unless he/she steals public money, which is a fact then in the circumstances we are in today where patronage democracy is embedded in the system, that MLA may not return for a second term.
While it is important to work at better governance and call out corruption and also reduce the dependence on patronage democracy the reality is also that in every constituency there are some very poor folks that need instant help when there is a health emergency or a death in the family. Clean politics is to be balanced with pragmatism and members of the VPP who have resigned perhaps feel that this extreme position taken by the Party vis a vis religion and distancing itself from extending personal help to needy constituents is what troubles some of its members. While inner party discipline is desirable it is also important for political parties to allow members to vent their frustrations and differences and to resolve those amicably instead of adhering to strict principles. After all, politics is the art of the possible.

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