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Fence Sitters And Fence Jumpers

Fence Sitters And Fence Jumpers

‘He sold his soul to the devil.’ This was part of a conversation between two elderly passengers from Thiruvananthapuram to Trichur during a bus ride. The rejoinder was added by the second person: ‘After all, he was a small fry. That was what Rahul said.’ The whole hour long conversation, sometimes jarring, sometimes blaring, was nailing Mr. Tom Vadakkan to the current electoral plank of the BJP.

Vadakkan’s somersault may have stunned some who had been thinking that he was a man of integrity as he was a familiar faithful mouthpiece of the Congress on national channels. It is said that he enjoyed the ‘green shade’ of the Congress family for twenty years. During that period, the crumbs that fell from the master’s table satiated him enough to staunchly support the Congress’ development policy based on the Five Year Plan introduced by Jawaharlal Nehru. He also had his choice terminology, short of expletives, to cast aspersions on RSS, BJP and the Sangh Parivar. His ‘conscience’ had then prompted him to nail the lies of the BJP by exposing its unfulfilled promises to the electorate in 2014.

He had called Amit Shah and his faction liars. But, the Big BJP Tarzan had his way in tackling his bitter Congress critic by administering his usual potion to defang his troubled ‘conscience.’  It worked. The ‘conscience’ of the man melted with a backdoor ‘shuddhikaran’ ceremony. Thereafter, Vadakkan mouthed glorious praises of Amit Shahji. And, overnight, as if by a vision, he found Modiji’s ‘development narrative’ a panacea for the ills of the nation. And, his post-mortem narrative described his onetime beloved Congress Parivar as one with different ‘power centres’ which consign men of capability and integrity like him to Hades. Now the Sangh Parivar is his newfound love. That is Vadakkan at his best as he found the right place in Hades to bloom like lotus. It is yet to be seen how long Amit shah will chew this newly acquired sugar cane piece.

Vadakkan may be a ‘small fry.’ But there are many strutting on the national stage as party spokespersons or as elected representatives who are just fence sitters. When opportunity offers, they jump over into the enemy turf to gobble tasty-looking crumbs and salacious salads. The trends have been there all along. But, this pre-election season it has become a mania for fence sitters. And the ‘temptation points’ offered by the horse traders as picnic spots are under cover ‘suicide points.’

That is where the general public has low opinion about such party-hopping politicians who play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Such guys do a disservice to the nation owing to their dishonesty, lack of ideological clarity and brackish integrity.  The only ideological dictum that governs their life and work is: ‘There is no enemy in politics. Opportunism is the best cap a politician can put on.’ Many stretch this dictum to such an extent that they feel comfortable with the political opponent backstage and playact like hunting dogs and wild pigs in front of the masses.  Should the nation tolerate such windbags? When elected, they are entrusted with the nation’s safety and security. We expect them not to play act but put on their action boot to ensure every citizen’s welfare and security. 

The other day a carpenter in the market had a viewpoint about the politicians. ‘They are like the police. Both enjoy negative views in the eyes of the general public.’ In other words, both the law makers and the law keepers enjoy poor rating. Both do not seem to generate confidence in the general public.   

If that is so, it is a pathetic situation. Should we allow ourselves be taken for a ride by this tribe? Instead of wailing over the matter, certain things need to be done. Mass awareness of the importance of human and fundamental rights is very much needed. The public should be able to stand up and demand from the elected reps an accountability record of their performance. The type of social auditing by some channels in public presence is a good device. Such exercises should be multiplied even by NGO groups so that the politicians would face the electorate squarely before the ballot right is exercised by the public. On such occasions fence jumpers will have to answer what prompted them to switch sides and what monetary or material benefit they received, etc. Our politicians should know that some people can be fooled sometimes, but all people cannot be fooled all the time.

(Published on 25th March 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 13)