Are we all gripped by insanity? Or have we fallen into an abyss of forgetfulness? Both the questions have assumed significance in the context of a few Assembly by-elections presently being held in Assam. Someone may legitimately ask–should we be raising such serious questions about present-day politics now? True, very true. Such questions are normally asked in the field of literature and philosophy or in similar disciplines, which deal with our life and reality. Sad very sad.

The politics which is directly hitting us on the face is being ignored as if it doesn’t affect our life. But will someone be able to dispute me if I say that literature and philosophy are the offshoots of politics? The other day in a public gathering when I introduced a young man as a social activist, he corrected me later saying that he is not a social activist but a political activist.

He said: “I say so because my whole being is controlled by politics.” I think there is truth in what he said. When we talk in terms of politics, there are two corollaries to it. First, it is the question of political understanding. This is the broad thing. This is the plane. The second is immediate; it means if there is an election around the corner what role we are going to play in it.

Let us go back to the beginning again.  It seems there is a dreaded indifference on the part of the educated people towards politics. Most of them think that as they cannot play any effective role in politics what the fun of getting interested in it is. After what we have been experiencing may be, we cannot blame them altogether.

Forget about all other things, just remember that only a few months back when the Assembly elections were held in Assam, people voted for almost all the candidates who are in the fray now. But then, they stood for different parties. After the formation of the new government, they changed parties which necessitated the holding of the by-elections now.

They won, they resigned and now they are again contesting the elections. Same people from a different party! Months ago, they said all kinds of things against a party and now they are seeking votes from the people for the same party. And what are they saying in the electioneering? And who is leading it? It is by a person who is enjoying the office of the Chief Minister in the state presently.

What are they saying? It is difficult to follow. It is not difficult to follow because they are saying complicated things related to economics and politics affecting our body politic in sophisticated language. It is difficult to follow because the utterings are not to our taste. Don’t think things have reached this bottom normally, naturally and spontaneously. No, there is a deep design behind it. What is the design? May be, that will be investigated and written about later.

In the circumstances, the educated and sensible people have withdrawn from the field of politics leaving a field day for the rogues. What the rogue politicians are doing? They are saying and doing all kinds of things to tempt people for their votes and in the process fooling them.

On the one hand, they have done things in a manner so that the educated and sensible people run away from the scene, on the other hand, they are trying to manage the majority of the gullible voters for them.

As mentioned above, our withdrawal from the scene is to their benefit. We should understand that the grotesque political statements may have latent meaning. Here, the political scientists, social scientists and even literary critics have a role in deciphering it.

Now, remember what the great politician of our time said the other day in his election meeting somewhere. Didn’t he say that the ruling party should take the advantage of the situation and score a maximum number of goals when nobody was watching the goalpost? Nothing explains the present political scenario better than this. We may ignore it. We may laugh at it. But this is an indictment of our time and politics.

Look at what the opposition political parties are doing in the by-elections. Aren’t they proving him correct? Together they would have owned most of the seats in the by-elections. But with their naivety, they are turning a winning thing into a defeat.

It is a field day for the ruling party. It is a field day for the mockers of democracy. It is a field day for the anti-secular forces. It is a field day for the divisive forces. Again, we are remorse-stricken and are withdrawing. And they are dancing. They are dancing literally. While they are dancing the death of democracy, we are covering our eyes with our hands so that we do not see it.

But the political scientists and social scientists have said time and again that hiding from it does not mean that it is not happening. They famously call it an ostrich syndrome. Perhaps the literary critics should also take note of it. Soon the dust of the by-elections will be settled. Will there be an awakening of new political understanding coupled with a political agenda? Shall we cover our eyes or look wide open?

Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: malakarparesh@gmail.com