De­cline and fall of so­cial­ism

Governance Now - - WHITHER DEMOCRACY? -

much be­fore Kar­nataka’s pol­i­tics de­gen­er­ated into a den of cor­rup­tion, the state boasted a le­gion of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers like S Ni­jalin­gappa who broke off from the congress and aligned them­selves with a new vari­ant of pol­i­tics that was egal­i­tar­ian and averse to one-fam­ily dom­i­nance. ni­jalin­gappa men­tored ra­makr­ishna Hegde and many oth­ers. From the 1960s till the ’90s, po­lit­i­cal so­cial­ism dom­i­nated the state be­fore it got mu­tated into a vir­u­lent form of cor­rupt pol­i­tics ced­ing ground to the BJP.

in to­day’s Kar­nataka, it would ap­pear to be a tale from a for­got­ten era to re­call that Hegde had re­signed twice as chief min­is­ter on mo­ral grounds – more so in a sce­nario where the state is be­lieved to be fight­ing the most ex­pen­sive elec­tions in the coun­try. Money has just been flow­ing like an un­end­ing stream of a mighty river – not cau­very which is dried up for want of wa­ter. While driv­ing in the state, one reg­u­larly comes across ATM booths which do not have cash. But cash is the king in this elec­tion.

in such a set­ting, the dis­cus­sion about so­cial­ism and its old pro­po­nents is not only ir­rel­e­vant but also ridicu­lously ar­chaic. This is why Bi­har chief min­is­ter ni­tish Ku­mar was the odd man out when he came here to cam­paign for the eight can­di­dates of his Janata dal (united). While driv­ing down from Ben­galuru air­port, Ku­mar turned nos­tal­gic and said, “This place used to be a bas­tion of the so­cial­ist lead­ers rang­ing from ni­jalin­gappa, Virendra Patil, Hegde and JH Pa­tel to sr Bom­mai and Hd deve gowda – not to for­get the re­doubtable ge­orge Fer­nan­des.

Why did so­cial­ist lead­ers cede space to par­ties like the BJP? i asked while prod­ding him to ex­plain his per­spec­tive on the de­cline of a pow­er­ful ide­ol­ogy within a span of three decades. “You see, the prob­lem arose as a large group of so­cial­ist lead­ers could not co­here as a group and also as lead­ers, though bril­liant in their own right, they turned out to be and their own fam­ily went against the ba­sic ethos of so­cial­ism. “lo­hia was quite em­phatic about re­spect­ing peo­ple’s sen­ti­ment ir­re­spec­tive of their re­li­gions and castes. He wrote a beautiful es­say on ram, Kr­ishna and shiva, and em­pha­sised their rel­e­vance in con­tem­po­rary con­text.”

An as­tute politi­cian that he is, ni­tish Ku­mar was quite aware of the limited scope of his ap­peal in Kar­nataka amid the din of an elec­tion cam­paign which is punc­tu­ated by high-deci­bel rhetoric on caste and reli­gion, and is in­fused with cash on an un­prece­dented scale. on his way back, he re­called the man­ner in which lo­hia turned around the coun­try’s pol­i­tics only two decades af­ter in­de­pen­dence, in 1967, by help­ing to throw out congress regimes in many states. in a po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere that reeks with slush money and sub­terfuges, such me­mories alone of­fer a whiff of fresh air.

These two re­ports have ap­peared on in different ver­sions.

Kar­nataka was once a lab for so­cial­ist ex­per­i­ments. That is no longer true. Cam­paign­ing there, Ni­tish Ku­mar lamented the end of an era, and the ar­rival of a po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere reek­ing of slush money.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.