As the electoral drama in W.Bengal rolls on, a question that vexes many in the country is why the Prime Minister is spending so much in the elections of just one state, and on the ousting of just Chief Minister, who happens to be a lady who is actually quite popular among her people.
After all there are so many elections being held in India all the time for various states and union territories and municipalities, and then there are by-elections too. Some election or the other is always there. This is as it should be in a large and dynamic democracy. Of course the idea of having simultaneous elections at one go has also been mooted , but has rightly faced widespread criticism as it is so anti-democratic and hence should be banished. So given the fact that some election or the other is always due, should the Prime Minister really spend so much time on the election of a single state, as is being done at present in the context of W.Bengal?
India is the second largest country in terms of population, and even in ordinary times the Prime Minister faces many complex national and international issues, each one demanding priority attention. But the present times happen to extraordinary times when the complexity of issues is much more serious. The economy is in serious difficulty, people face exceptionally serious livelihood problems, there is widespread discontent among farmers, there are signals of increasing hunger and malnutrition beyond the prevailing normal high levels, minorities are much more troubled than in normal times, pandemic related issues continue including serious disruption in health system, challenges on foreign policy front are increasing. Hence it will not be good for the country and its governance if the Prime minister, or even the Home minister, of the country start spending so much time and effort on elections in a single state.
Moreover, it is not just a matter of time, but also of emphasis. In defense of federal democracy of close cooperation of centre and state and promoting unity in diversity, the Prime Minister ( and even the Home Minister) should be seen to be at least a little above state election results and should not be embroiled too closely in the local politics of a single state. After all, the Prime Minister belong to all people of nation. If tomorrow the TMC wins the W.Bengal election and the popular Didi is back as Chief Minister, as appears quite likely, the Prime Minister will have to deal with this reality for the remaining part of his term at least. So the bitterness should not be allowed to increase at the level of the PM and the CM. If there is bitterness between the CM and the local BJP chief, then not much harm is done, but this should not happen at the level of the PM ( and the Home Minister ). The PM should do nothing that will create durable bitterness.
Similarly there should be no tendency on the part of the PM and the Home Minister, or those seen to be very close to them, to be very vindictive towards a particular political party, in the present context the TMC. All unbiased persons will agree that the TMC Member of Parliament Mohua Moitra has proved herself to be an exceptionally talented speaker in Parliament debates. The Parliament needs such talent. But look at how much bitter opposition the talented lady MP had to face recently. On the other hand when a movie star, who had shifted to the BJP camp recently in W.Bengal, went to the extent of saying that he is as dangerous as a cobra for opponents, and this was applauded ,not condemned, by some of his colleagues.
All this amounts ultimately to avoidable damage to the spirit of cooperative federalism and unity in diversity. The Prime minister in particular will be well advised not to get so much embroiled in local politics, and to save his valuable time and efforts for much more urgent tasks of the nation and the world.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His recent books include Man Over Machine ( Gandhian Ideas For Our Times ) and Protecting Earth For Children.