Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Jan 2019 09:49:58



Mumbai, January 17 (PTI): The Opposition ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (Grand Alliance) is a club of ‘nawabs of negativity’ and the only glue of this diverse grouping is its opposition to one man (Narendra Modi), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

People of an aspirational society which is politically conscious will not buy into this “suicidal” alternative, the senior BJP leader said. “The nawabs of negativity may come together but this is not something that will carry credibility as far as people are concerned,” Jaitley said, speaking via video link at the CNBC-TV19 India Business Leadership Awards event here. This was the first time Jaitley, now in the US for medical treatment, addressed a gathering since leaving the country.

... Jaitley also said, there was a need to elevate political debate in the run up to the elections and stressed that we could not afford a “sloganised political debate” where emotional cries take over sound policy. ...

THE power in Mr. Arun Jaitley’s statement can be sensed easily. There could be some people who might not appreciate his usage -- nawabs of negativity -- to describe Opposition effort to forge a Grand Alliance. But the substance in what he wishes to communicate also can be sensed. He debunks what he calls a “sloganised political debate” where emotional cries displace sanity in discussion on public policy. Seen in this light, his appeal to elevate political debate in the run up to elections makes a lot of sense.

Persons who are not politically-inclined but are politically-aware (like this scribe) will agree with Mr. Jaitley that India’s political debate is dominated by negativity, mostly in the past four and a half years. So obsessed are the Opposition leaders with the idea of pulling down Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi that they are willing to foist lies on the nation and indulge in Goebbelsian propaganda.

These “nawabs of negativity” have opposed everything the Government has done, including some truly good things such as winning an important place for the country on various global platforms, including conducting surgical strikes into Pakistan, including convincing the world to celebrate the International Yoga Day on June 21, including raising the country’s GDP, including opening up affirmative action to economically backward classes in general category. They did not miss a single chance to plant seeds of negativity in the Indian society in the past four and a half years with only one political motive.

What happens in the election ultimately will be decided only later. But at this stage, when the preparations are on by all political parties to put forth their respective ideas and ideologies for electoral gains, what the country sees now is nothing but an explosion of negativity -- aimed at creating a sense of hatred towards the Government in general and against Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in particular. With so much of negative propaganda going on, the level of political debate has sunk very low.

If everything in politics is to be geared up only for electoral purposes, then what will happen to a non-partisan discourse on public policy? True, politics is an activity aimed at gaining power. Standing on this platform, naturally, bipartisanism is the most natural nature of any debate. Despite this reality, what is expected of a civilised democracy is a high level of discussion on issues and not what Mr. Jaitley called “sloganised debate” where emotional cries drown any other sound of sensibility and sensitivity.

Let there be no doubt about the right of political parties to raise the pitch of their respective ideologies. But democracy is a system in which ideals of unity should get a precedence over ideologies of divisiveness. In a civilised democracy an opponent is not treated as an enemy, as happens in India.

Unfortunately, this ideal is often lost sight of in our political democracy. Even as we accept the concept of democracy being a cauldron of boiling and conflicting ideas, we realise that opposition for the sake of opposition is not the core idea of democracy. But when we see only such a thing to keep happening all the time, we tend to agree with Mr. Jaitley’s description -- ‘nawabs of negativity’ -- of Opposition leaders.

May anything happen in the elections. Every political party is capable of deciding how it is going to conduct itself in the battle of ballot. In just a few months the result will be out. Yet, the earnest desire of people with a sane head on their shoulders is to have a political debate in which people do not sink to very low levels, as some Congress leaders did while talking about the temporary illness of Bharatiya Janata Party President Mr. Amit Shah. Such diatribes only add a bitter taste to the mouth, and serve no purpose except raising the decibels of political noise.

Almost all political parties sink to lower-than-normal levels of accusations and counter-accusations in election times. But what is happening now in the Opposition camp is something that the sane people do not appreciate. We cannot disagree that even some people in the ruling side also have made similar mistakes. But going by the overall tone and tenor of political debate, it can be said safely that the Opposition leaders seem to go over board habitually while attacking the people in the Modi Government. The description ‘nawabs of negativity’ is meant for such people.

Of course, when stakes are high and chips are down, it is foolish to expect political debate to get elevated to a higher level. The only thing that ordinary Indians can hope in such a situation is that all political parties must remember that after the elections, the nation must stand as one man. And they can ensure this by not letting disagreement turn into discord.