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Retirement Fiat

Retirement Fiat

The decision by the BJP to keep its leaders over 75 years of age off the poll-race in this year of elections would have come as a whiff of fresh air to a nation that has ‘elderly’ statesmen who continue to tread the country’s political scenario with gay abandon.

But the BJP appears to be unwilling to take any chances on the PM’s popularity to see it through in the ensuing parliamentary elections.

With the party’s central election committee burning the proverbial midnight oil to finalize candidates based strictly on their ‘winnability’ criterion, it does appear that the ‘fiat’ is a convenient tool to see off the age of the patriarchs in its ranks.

With senior leader L K Advani and B C Khanduri being overlooked for this Lok Sabha election, it is as if the era of old-guards in the party has come to end.

An unceremonious exit if there ever was one, it is however surprising to note that the ‘age-bar’ has not been applied in toto when it comes to considering the nomination of many such leaders who by virtue of being avowed Modi-loyalists could yet find their names featuring in the subsequent candidates’ list.

Without a doubt, the Modi-dispensation at the centre has been high on rhetoric and at its nadir when it comes to implementing such well-meaning proposals.

However, the BJP, more so the Modi-Shah duo, would not like to squander the chance they have to dominate the proceedings at the centre for another five years bringing into effect ‘formal authorizations’ that would only prove detrimental to its cause in the coming elections.

Hence the need to tread the safe path would necessitate the party to discard such ‘grand’ ideas and concentrate on attaining victory in the 2019 general election – at any cost.

Yet, the complexity of the situation notwithstanding, plans which have featured as opinions in the public domain for decades suddenly getting a nod from a political party serves to revive interest in its constitution, or at least the amendments that is being proposed.

However it is the ‘selectiveness’ of the application that lays bare the essentialities of playing politics in such organizations that is suggestive of a toxic stew of resentment and power. 

Take the examples of leaders like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha who are side-lined by the BJP simply for being vociferous and critical with their views about the functioning of the party and its leadership!

For that matter Congress too has not been very different in its approach!

Searching for transparency and democracy in the functioning of any political party is not that too easy a task either. Factions within factions, all riddled with their own brand of power-games, give the semblance of a house of cards which could collapse at the slightest hint of a major upheaval within the organization.

These ‘disturbances’ could vary from party to party. While some are characterized by a tendency to have dissent among members over an issue coming to the fore in a very explosive manner, others are conspicuous by the ‘silent’ resentment that runs deep within the ranks.

By allowing politics to dominate in matters where principles should prevail, one will agree that it is a mad scramble where every leader is trying to hoist himself on to the higher rung of power hierarchy within the party organization.

Trying to get other members to run with your idea comes down so naturally to skilled players who are known to pit one against the other to achieve their ‘ends’. These then are branded astute politicians who have in them the verve to one day don the mantle of leadership of the party, and the country.     

However, with each passing year the need to have young and dynamic leaders coming to the forefront of national politics to charter a new course for the country is being felt now as never before.

Yet the manner in which old-age has never served to be an impediment for the seasoned politicians in our country to extend their innings forever is indeed a matter of concern.

From being a means to serve the public, politics is today a career that perceptive leaders can take pride in. However, just as in other professions, politicians too should have an age-limit on attaining which they too should think of relinquishing office honourably.

The politics that typifies the ‘ouster’ of leaders over the brink to accommodate the new-order is at times heart-breaking. Nevertheless, the feeling that years of service to the party and people have been ignored in their ‘unjust’ removal from electoral politics should not be bothering the grand-patriarchs of Indian politics excessively.

It is said that with every changing order there are compulsions that force the establishment to take effective steps to strengthen its base. The younger leaders in the party taking over from octogenarian and nonagenarians are expected to breathe new life into an organization thirsting for fresh ideas to take it forward.

The ‘maturity’ factor flaunted so abrasively as that one ‘virtue’ which makes the very-senior leaders in the party seemingly indispensable in its order of priorities has at times made it impossible for the party to clear the dead wood.

Frail and incapacitated politicians in the twilight of their career, and requiring assistance for the simplest of chores to be performed, continuing to be acclaimed as pillars of the nation is too rude a joke to be played on the masses.

Yes, they could well perform the task of  Margdarshaks as L K Advani came to be recognized as in this latest tenure of his obscurity from national politics. That he misunderstood his ‘honorary’ position in the saffron brigade put him in a really awkward position.

It is a mark of respect that allows leaders from the past the luxury to rub shoulders with the younger lot. But as elders shepherding the younger flock, they wouldn’t be expected to impose their diktats on party members.

Nevertheless, very few leaders in Indian political history have shown the desire to retire from active politics before the imminent downslide starts. There are always signals, but in their vainglory the leaders who have outlived their utility often fail to see them.

It is always better to quit when the going is good!

(Published on 8th April 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 15)