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Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Jaswant Singh are right; and yet, Arun Jaitley is right too!


ARINDAM CHAUDHURI | New Delhi, April 2, 2014 21:39
Tags : Arindam Chaudhuri | L.K Advani | BJP | Murli Manohar Joshi | Jaswant Singh | Yashwant Sinha |

Many people have been moved by Jaswant Singh’s genuine tears of pain, L.K Advani’s hurt pride and Murli Manohar Joshi’s sadness at the BJP Central Committee not blindly agreeing to give them the seats they wanted. Personally and emotionally speaking, I too have been moved by the same. Truly, compared to these BJP stalwarts, how many leaders in the Congress can you point out and say that you respect them? From the younger lot, there are some who are better than the average, but are yet to earn any respect. From the older lot, almost all are people who are impossible to respect. You look at most and feel that you are looking at seasoned scamsters.

Compare that to the older BJP generation – from Vajpayee to Advani to Murli Manohar Joshi to Jaswant Singh and even to Yashwant Sinha. They are all people for whom a deep sense of respect comes almost automatically. Not one of them can I look at and think of as a thief. They may not have been revolutionary politicians and may not have given India any revolutionary growth, but they are clean statesmen who have not brought a bad name to politicians and have done their bit in the way they could have best done. They are dignified party workers and have never tried to make the party their private limited company. Ergo, they must be respected. They must be treated with dignity and must always be kept at a higher pedestal. After all, with thieves, scamsters and criminals all around in politics, these are the people we need to highlight as role models. Thus, when they feel pained, I feel pained. I feel for them. BJP has indeed failed to maintain good communication to explain to them the situation, and to keep their respect intact. While Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi swallowed their pride, Jaswant Singh couldn’t, and quit. They surely deserved more respect! BJP could have communicated very positive media statements directly from Modi and Rajnath explaining that the respect of and for these legendary politicians was intact and that it was only because of circumstances and calculations that such changes to seat allocations had become necessary.

And yet, I agree with Arun Jaitley when he says that party members must take party decisions with a smile. Why? The reason is that the old must give way to the new. For years, no one questioned the leaders who had become pillars of the party. And these leaders almost always got what they wanted. With change in leadership, new thoughts come in and there are changes. Change is always painful, but very often necessary. Yes, the change-maker must make it smooth; and BJP has failed to do that. But look at it from a very ruthless perspective, and you start understanding the situation. Respect apart, is it correct to allow a man to become the PM of a country despite his suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or keep an 80 year old man as the PM of India for 10 years despite his voice being almost inaudible, despite him not being able to give even one proper speech anymore, and despite him being one who has lost his sense of comprehension? All just because he was once a great leader? I accept that politics is about sacrifice, about passion and there should be no age of retirement. But still, I wouldn’t accept compromises like the ones mentioned above.

It is a fact that even without having a definite age of retirement, every country of the world has ministers whose average age is far less than the average age of Indian ministers. The average age of our cabinet is 65 years (because 80% of our politicians are over a whopping 70 years of age)... The average age in USA is 60 years (with no one being allowed to be President for more than 8 years); in Brazil, it is about 58 years; Japan (the country with the highest lifespan) is at an average of 57 years; Iran is at 53 years; Britain and Germany are at around 52 years, Australia is at 51 and Russia at 47! Now, compare these average age figures of ministers with the median age of their respective nation. The median age in India is 25 years; in USA, this is 34 years; Brazil is 29 years: Japan 45; Iran 27; Britain 40; Germany 44; Australia 37; and Russia is at a median age of 38 years. In other words, India is the youngest country in the world with the oldest cabinet. Even the dictatorial China, where politicians retain power forever, is better off with an average age of cabinet at 63 years and the median age of population at 34 years. Isn’t it time for a change?

The Arab Spring was a result of this huge age difference between the rulers in those countries and the average age of the population at large. When young nations get ruled by old men who can’t communicate with the youth, who do not understand the youth, and with whom the youth doesn’t identify, then we have situations where self-proclaimed anarchists like Arvind Kejriwal mislead the youth and get the popular share of mind and often votes. It’s time for all parties to self-introspect and for all senior leaders to – rather than remembering the past – think of the nation and, despite their goodwill and passion, just take a step back and become the guiding force enabling the party to create new leaders who are like them. I feel sad when not a single Advani or Jaswant Singh is on their own able to announce an able replacement or make a contribution to the party in the form of a leader with their own character traits. A great leader makes more great leaders. Only insecure leaders deliberately choose otherwise, and rather create a situation where they are forcefully pushed a bit to make way for new leaders. Agreed that the new lot may not be a fraction as good and charismatic as the old guard, but then as leaders, wasn’t it the older lot’s number one responsibility towards the nation and the party to give able replacements and create new leaders?

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017