“No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.” This timeless piece of wisdom beautifully elucidated by British Mathematician Jacob Bronowski, is more true to the art of politics than any other sphere of human life. The intoxication of power is stronger than opium and a desire to attain its highest form has brought untold misery to millions over several centuries of human civilization. The affliction with “power” one of the greatest evils of human nature is so deep, that men even on their deathbed decry for more or complain on the lack of it.
One such play for the yearning of power is currently in motion in the pristine hills of Himachal Pradesh. An octogenarian Chief Minister who is barely able to maintain his balance while walking, is seeking approval from the innocent population of the state for an unprecedented 7th term as their chief executive.
Striving for unfettered authority at a stage in life when controlling your own bladder becomes agonizingly difficult is not new in India. The lust for jurisdiction over other people’s dreams, desires and ambitions is amplified in the largest democracy as the spoils to be had by such power are immeasurable. State control over natural resources, market transactions and social interactions between individuals is so ubiquitous that an opportunity to hold administrative clout presents many profitable prospects to those occupying high positions.
Politicians who wield power have an unprecedented ability to manipulate state monopoly over coercive force to build and develop patronage networks across a spectrum of social hierarchies be it peasants, workers, industrialists or governmental employees. Legitimacy of authority in a patronizing parent is the fuel of these crony networks and their survival is dependent on maintaining their validity over state power.
Virbhadra Singh as Chief Minister for 30 years has done well, in fact exceptionally well in blossoming his feudal eco system whenever entrusted with democratic power by distributing largesse’s to his chummy sycophants at the expense of innocuous pahadis. The survival of all these parasites including future marauders of the Virbhadra clan depends on him winning elections or somehow retaining a minute degree of influence to keep their corrupt eco system going.
Given these dynamics and the high costs Virbhadra Singh, his family and his cronies will suffer by not exercising authority over the lives of Himachali’s, it isn’t shocking that the old man is being pushed to the brink. In a state where less than 10.5 percent of the population is over the age of 60 years, and majority 64.4 percent is in the working age group of 15 – 59 years, the Congress party by succumbing to the tantrums thrown by this 85-year-old child has handed the reins of its organization to a deeply entrenched group of corrupt and decadent people. The moral delinquency of the party, supporters of the Chief Minister and all in favor of a decrepit individual with a visionless performance record is reflective of the contempt with which these power hungry bloodsuckers view the aspirations of a young, vibrant and anxious Himachal Pradesh.
Over the past 5 years, the state under the tutelage of a corruption accused Chief Minister, backed by an immoral interest group has suffered infinitely. Law and order has deteriorated to such an extent that Himachal is being compared with the rough states of UP and Bihar. Unemployment has reached epic proportions with close to a million youths idling away their prime years or vastly engaged in trivial trades. Corruption is thriving and the administration is running an extortion racket. All this misery yet, the patronage network still thrives. Yielding immense power, it has prevented the Congress Party from appointing any other leader as its de facto state head for the upcoming elections.
The precarious circumstances in which the state finds itself is tantamount to an emergency. The burden of supporting Virbhadra Singh and his profligate supporters has come at a high expense. The whims and fancies of the present Chief Minister and his extended family has left our pristine mountains in heavy debt. Fiscal liabilities have exceeded 38,192 crores, and debt stood at 40 percent of state GDP, surpassing revenue receipts by 214 percent.
The state in such dire conditions needs a leader well connected to its young and debt burdened population. A person who understands the aspirations of an exuberant population who have been held back by consistently corrupt and liberty violating governments. What the state doesn’t desire is a corruption accused Chief Minister three generations removed from the population backed by a depraved interest group.
(An associate with a law firm, V.P. Sharma writes regular articles for various news papers. His articles take a contrarian view of political, economic and social issues.)
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity.