The Allure of Power

Anadi Naik

As his last will and testament Mahatma Gandhi had advised the members of the Congress Party to dismantle the Party and engage in public service through various “constructive programs”. Such a step for him was necessary to energize the masses of India who suffered from the illness of spirit. Decades later the Congress Party felt that its members were becoming too power hungry. Therefore, it felt, some of the powerful Central Ministers should remain outside power and energize the Party’s base. This was a plan created by K. Kamraj of Tamilnadu. Although its luster was diminishing, still the Congress Party under Nehru was the leading political Party of the country. Under the Kamraj plan, five Central Ministers – Lal bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, S.K.Patil, Jagjivan Ram and Humayun Kabir - were dropped from Nehru’s cabinet.

While on his Padayatra, Vinobaji was asked by a Bhoodan worker as to his opinion about the event. This is what Vinobaji said “It is like this: they needed a 25 year old young man for the wedding. Instead they have 5 five year olds.” The implication was that it was Nehru who should have left the Government to energize the base, not others. Power is one of the most alluring aphrodisiacs. Therefore, hanging on to power was natural, even for “Panditji”.

In the very recent history of Indian politics Arvind Kejriwal and his Am Aadmi Party got a lot of mileage from popular discontent among the citizens of India. Political Parties took the blame. The people compared the Parties as bastions of corruption. The Am Aadmi Party of Kejriwal appeared to them as honest, straight talkers. The citizens of Delhi with a great deal of hope and aspiration allowed them to form a government. The Am Aadmi Party by now had raised the threshold of hope quite high. It was difficult and impractical to fulfill. How can a chief minister be allowed to sit for hours to hear gripes from citizens? Given the level of violence everywhere how can police allow a chief minister to roam freely without body guards? Kejriwal and his friends learned the hard way that creating a movement is different from running a government. In India after Independence, it was Rajaji, who had written volumes on nonviolence and Indian culture and so on, yet, his administration ordered the very first firing by police on an unruly but unarmed people. Over the years, the governments run by the Congress Party have fired upon unruly gatherings almost routinely.

Now, Am Aadmi’s Kejriwal has resigned because he did not find enough support for his anti-corruption bill. He should have known that political Parties represent the interests of a particular segment of the population which is based on economic and social privileges. Parties are not in a position to ask their supporters to give up those privileges. On the other hand their supporters want them to work harder to strengthen the existing situation. Therefore, Kejriwal finding allies in the Congress party to root out corruption from the government was contradictory in terms. So far, by being in power in New Delhi for consecutively two terms the Congress Party has grown tired and corrupt.

No doubt, the corruption in the country is draining its spirit. But it has many different causes. There is no one particular reason that causes all the corruption at different levels. A drastic change in thinking of the masses can help change the situation. However, it cannot be done by passing a Law or shouting from the top of the government. The entire civic life have to be cleansed. When Gandhiji advised his followers to help energize people in villages instead of being engaged in the politics of power, he had this in mind. The same rule also applies to Kejriwal and his followers.

Power has its usefulness like its allure. But social change and politics of power do not go hand in hand. Power thrives on the status quo and sometimes creates its own whereas the need for social change discards the present and creates something new which could be better or worse than the present.

Comments on this article/book