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Issue No.: 559 | January 2014
 

Elections to Parliament: Participation of Veterans

Ravindra Waman Pathak
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While an average Indian is used since independence to this stereotyping ceaselessly within India by our media and ‘intellectuals’, what is galling to note is that of late a substantial portion of this ‘idea’ has come to be exported to other parts of the world, notably the US.

Historically the armed forces have remained apolitical and that has been our positive point. Traditionally politics was taboo in the mess (canteen) and so should it be always. As a result, a mindset has set in amongst the retired that post retirement too we should not participate in politics. Even those serving, by law are not excluded from the election process and now they have a choice better than the old postal ballot system.

Let me clarify, indulging in politics and being politically aware are two different issues. One must be aware of the implications of one’s actions if remaining aloof from the election process is the choice. Politics is the art or science of influencing people on a civic or individual level, when there are more than two people contesting. Being politically aware means knowing who is fooling you more. The attitude of the large middle class, of which most ex-servicemen (ESM) form a part, to not vote has led to the current political environment and the despicable level to which governance has fallen in the country. This seems to have finally initiated a change in the frustrated mindset of a large majority of people. Across the board, they are now looking for an alternative at the national level. The single root cause for their frustration is predominance of party politics at the cost of national interests which has
brought the nation to the brink of economic and social ruin.

To quote Winston Churchill,

"Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . .
All leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. .
They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts. . .
They will fight amongst themselves for power and the two countries will be lost in political squabbles.
. . . A day would come when even air and water will be taxed.”

Well, our present lot is showing just how far-sighted Churchill was and how in a few words he truly expressed what our leaders would be. Nay, they have out-done him.

This greed of political parties to retain power at any cost has led to criminals entering, both the legislative and parliament houses. Today the situation has come to a stage when all laws are being enacted with the support of criminals for the criminals. If the situation is not arrested now, I am afraid it might lead to gun fights inside the assembly and parliament house and the worse will be that these elements will be protected by the Constitution. (Just see what happened in the Maharashtra Assembly to the poor policeman). I dread to imagine the situation a few years on. The prime example is of the UP politician who has been a minister in every government for the last so many years and who has been recently charged with murder and continues to roam free. Though he has been sentenced to jail for criminal activities in the past, he becomes the Minister for prisons! What a cruel joke on democracy! Is it not comedy of the worst kind, and one cannot imagine what would have been the fate of those jail officials who did not treat him like a VIP while he was in jail. And look at the two classes among the prisoners. One Super First Class and the other like what Ram Singh went through. Look at the behaviour of our Chief Minister in J&K who has no time to visit the family of martyrs, who orders paramilitary forces to fight the enemy with lathis. The Home Minister defends him. Would any politician accept a lathi-wielding security rather than the gun toting Black Cats?

Seeking an Alternative from the Defence Fraternity

Some powerful groups think that a federation of like-minded small parties/groups could be formed as a national level alternative to bring a change in the country’s politics. One such group believes that defence veterans could be ideal and suitable candidates. Many such persons / NGOs have approached ESM organizations to come together and identify potential candidates with a clean military background for contesting the next national elections under a unified banner.

Available data indicates that winning margins in a multi-party/multi-pronged election contest are roughly 2 to 3% of the votes polled. Defence services community vote bank (including the ESM and those still in service and now allowed to vote from their place of posting) number around 10 crore across country. This could provide a vote swing of up to 7 to 9%. Add to this the youth population (below 26 yrs) which forms 26% of the country’s population. With this kind of voting strength we have the potential to bring about a paradigm change that the nation is seeking. I am of the opinion that veterans, soldier in uniform and the youth can influence the result of at least 80 Members of Parliament and about 400 MLA’s all over India and be able to influence or nay force a clean Government.

The defence fraternity would whole heartedly support suitable defence fraternity candidates to take part in the governance of the country and also be our voice in State Assemblies and Parliament to get us due justice which has been denied to us by various governments for the past 65 years besides bringing in a change in politics.

I would like to caution here that power corrupts every one and that we would have to make sure that we select only those candidates who have a reasonably clean image and also mandate that an individual would not be permitted to contest more than two terms from any platform and the next candidate would not be a relative of the incumbent member. We must understand that even a clean ESM, onceelected, could turn out to be corrupt of which we have some examples but let us hope some of them would remain clean.

Even though the defence fraternity is unfortunately fractured, we should make it a point to project the candidate as a defence candidate instead of looking at the caste/ creed/political party he belongs to as long as he declares his intention of being with the ESM. I am told that some ESM organisations are willing to discuss this within the community and work jointly for the success of a good candidate. Let us jointly use the power of our vote for nation-building. Let us create a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. Those who wish to participate in this change would necessarily have to first register themselves in electoral rolls, exercise their voting right and cast their vote for the right ESM candidate. This time around YOU have to make your vote count. Come out en-masse and pledge YOUR VOTE at the next national elections for a candidate who has the nation at heart and not himself or his/her Party as the center of his schemes.

CDR RAVINDRA WAMAN PATHAK I.N. (Retd.), Member
Governing Body and Pension Cell, Pune. Email:
raviwarsha@gmail.com
 
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Obituary

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High Time to Abolish Governmental Awards

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Elections to Parliament: Participation of Veterans

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