foisting lies

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Jan 2019 12:10:05

DEFENCE Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman has done well to expose how Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi is trying to foist lies on the country by repeatedly telling that the Government is indulging in corruption in this or that deal. After making a candid and no-nonsense statement of how the Government has done every right thing in the Rafale Deal, Ms. Sitharaman has now exposed how Mr. Gandhi is trying to follow a Goebelsian tactic by alleging that massive corruption has taken place in awarding contracts to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). She has torn asunder point by point all the allegations made by Mr. Gandhi as regards the contracts to HAL and has exposed how most allegations are aimed at garnering electoral advantage. 

Everything is fair in love or war, they say. By that token, foisting lies on the nation in the electoral war, too, should be fair. Most unfortunately, Indian elections have often been marked by a lot of lie-telling and mud-slinging that is totally uncalled for. But, over the years, a crass culture has evolved around elections, not just in India but also all over the world. In some cases, all that lie-telling, all that mud-slinging works, though much to the disadvantage of democracy. The Congress President seems intent upon using falsehood as an electoral tool. Experience seems to have taught him that if a lie is told again and again without break, the common people tend to believe that it is truth and not a falsehood. Many political parties in the country seem to do it time and again.

This is unfortunate for India’s public discourse. For, when falsehood is traded for truth, when lie-telling is used with the consistency of a slogan, then the people whose knowledge-base is terribly small and ethical norm is undefined, develop a tendency to believe what is said time and again, without having to verify the substance in an allegation. By no standard can this be acceptable to a mature democracy in which contrarion view is respected. But when allegations are heaped upon the society with nauseating regularity, then the outcome often is dirty.

Here, we are least worried about the electoral outcome when the nation goes to the Lok Sabha polls a few months later. We are more concerned about the low level to which some elements in the political community are willing to stoop. Our concern, thus, is ethical in nature and spiritual in import. The Government has the wherewithal to combat falsehood and its leaders will do so in due course of time. But our concern goes far beyond -- deep into the zone of purity and probity in public life and discourse. We are absolutely clear that even in a political war in democratic elections, falsehood should never be resorted to.

As regards the contracts to the HAL, the Defence Minister has made it clear that every norm of ethics and transparency has been followed, which she highlighted with the help of documentary evidence. She did it in Parliament and she did it outside as well. Fortunately, the common people of the country realise her effort and also believe her statements. This credibility is the actual earning of the Government under Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

At this juncture when the national economy is about to take a major leap forward, when most of its parameters are healthy, India needs a healthier political discourse and cultural environ. The need is to make political statement based on platforms of truth and ideology. This applies to all parties, and this applies also to common people who must rise above the role of just spectatorship and take part in the democratic process more vigorously and more with a sense of purpose. Just toppling governments can never be the purpose of political discourse. The purpose should be higher -- of creating a truly good State.