The speech of President Pratibha Patil on the eve of 63rd Republic Day carried nothing special which would spur the nation motivate people to march ahead. In the backdrop of present political scenario in the country, the President, however, tried to give solace to the leaders by denouncing the movement of Anna Hazare, but people of the country cannot put the fact aside that the President is also a part of the political system. The President cautioned the people stating that a tree of democracy should not be shaken much to remove the rotten fruits else the tree per se would get uprooted. This comparison really sounds strange as nobody shakes a tree to remove bad fruits. One exerts force on a tree only to get fresh fruits. Though, it is another thing that many a time, fresh fruits don’t come down. This hard comparison given by the President comes amidst the public desperation for reforms in the democratic institutions of the country. If the President assumes that democratic institutions have been defiled, it is also true that political class is not that much keen on removing them.

If it is required to define the rotten fruits in the present context, the rampant corruption as well as caste and religion based politics will be befitting ones. Anna Hazare’s movement is focused on corruption but nobody is concerned with cast and religion based politics, which has allowed political parties to act on their whims and fancies. Anna’s movement is losing its sheen in the wake of assembly elections in five states, and whatever hurly burly is going on is related with the politics based on caste and religion. If vote bank politics and corruption are turfed out of political system, many problems would be sorted out. If the rotten fruits are not taken out, where the fresh fruits will come from? Common man will heave a sigh of relief when the rotten fruits are replaced by fresh ones. Unfortunately, the hope doesn’t seem to be realized as the appeals, manifestos and vision documents of the political parties in the face of assembly elections in the five states narrate everything.

In a measure to woo voters, political parties make tall promises that can’t be realized. Political parties especially the Congress and BJP are able to explain why they not working in sync with the promises made by them for the poll bound states like UP, Uttarakahnd and Punjab, where they are ruling? The poll-bound states, especially Uttar Pradesh, have turned into hub of caste and religion based politics. All parties are vying for proving themselves as well-wisher of certain castes and religious groups. They are making special poll promises to them. Some parties are vocal of increasing the reservation percentage, while others interested in ending the quota system. It is a form of politics which will enhance the rot in our democratic system. If a big tree like democratic system is laden with rotten fruits, they subsequently lose their relevance.

In her address to the nation, the President did talk at length about the challenges confronted by the nation, she also lest  many problems might crop up. Along with attaining the targets of high growth rate, it is also equally important to execute the government’s socio-economic programmes in right perspective, besides giving priority to eradicate the evils like poverty, starvation, malnutrition and illiteracy. Apart from that, generating job-opportunities for youths, they will also have to be provided with the quality education on priority basis to help them grow as the responsible citizens of the country. Though the politicians usually talk about implementation of such programmes, but they fail to make them realize leading to growing discontent among the masses. Despite their failures on this front, the political leaders claim that the situation is improving and they are making all possible efforts for it. But in fact, such claims of the politicians are viewed as just nothing but only paying lip services. Owing to such behavior of the politicians, especially those who are in power, the people are fed up and are left with no option to throw them out of power. But even those who have just come to power, they also adopt old method of governance and get involved in vote bank politics, in a bid to remain in power. The parties which were once rejected by the people in the past, are getting back to power alternatively in many states. After all when will they begin to realize that they have failed to come up to the expectations of the people the country? Why do they overlook the fact that a bigger section of the society is under the grip of the evils like illiteracy, poverty and diseases. It is that class of the people who pin hopes on leaders for solving their problems, but the politicians just give them plain assurances.

However, the sapling of democracy planted on the January 26, 1950 adopting the Constitution has now turned into a tree with strong foundation, but the climate has changed. This change has been caused owing to globalization, spread of education and IT revolution. The kind of care required for the healthy survival of the tree of democracy is not available. Undoubtedly, there have lots of changes in the course of time, but the concerns of people are growing as they find most of the fruits of the tree rotten. The rotten fruits will definitely fall down sooner or later, but it is better to remove them as earlier as possible. It is not wise to say that the efforts to remove the rotten fruit could fell the tree, because every citizen of the country is quite aware of the significance and dignity of the democratic institutions. People are fighting against corruption and the politics based on caste and religion with a view to strengthening democratic set ups, rather than weakening them. It will be better for the political class to get aware of their responsibilities. Instead of making honest efforts to remove corruption from the system, they are adhering to their political agenda which is no less than hypocrisy that was realized during the debate over Lokpal Bill in the Parliament.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on January 29, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)