It’s just a few days down the road of the recently concluded elections – and everything some winners are doing is exhibiting a complete volte-face, and yet I have to add exhibiting the highest degree of prudence, and in the process leaving prudence stripped of all its dignity. That in essence sums up the character of the electorate, the elected and the elections. Now it is time for the elected to set aside their faith in God and replace it with prudence, but prudence will be so obviously directed at obtaining a seat in the ruling party by whatsoever means, even forgetting their promises to the electorate, that prudence will be regarded as vulgar and disgusting. Added to this is the question that now that the elected are sitting in the same boat as the ones they declared as anti Christian are they now consequently anti Christian themselves? We have always praised a person’s virtues because of his selfless service to the people and not to the benefit he derives for himself.
With the formidable anti-Christian attack that was aimed at the BJP, one is inclined to believe that now their every virtue has been sacrificed at the altar of “Hypokrites” (Greek for hypocrite) and bargained their souls in the process. Asking them if that could be the case they reply, “that was just political banter, election rhetoric.” And so they justify their actions in the eyes of men and further claim nobility by ensconcing themselves in the safest place given under the circumstances – in the arms of the BJP. Indeed, if the condemnation of the BJP caused the party members to be nervous and crestfallen the BJP would have all but fallen apart, but no, the party members insisted that the party contest all sixty seats and though only two of its candidates emerged victorious the party stood proud and strong like a tree that has weathered the greatest storm. Indeed if you examine the life of the BJP, not on where it is now but in its early days – the 1960s – you will ask yourself is it true that to become great one has to face difficulties and hardships, misfortunes, hatred, mistrust, resistance, slander, jealousy and violence before experiencing favourable conditions, is it the norm that great growth, even of growth in virtue is scarcely possible without first being baptised in fire – total condemnation?
Look at the men and women who have become great and you will find a similar set of hardships that they went through before becoming who they came to be. These hardships and misfortunes are vital and now after the winners have been declared; it is the BJP that is pulling the strings in the formation of the government. The anti-Christian poison that was hurled at it and which would normally bring down any party has strengthened the BJP even more and that is what distinguishes a strong party from a weak one. I declare that had any other party, regional or national, been as fiercely charged with the vicious lies that the BJP was charged with that party would have ended up with one big “O,” but lies do not weaken the strong, it makes them stronger, stronger because now the BJP has turned out to be the nucleus around which the Government of Meghalaya has been established. That anti-Christian image has now been made the cornerstone of the government in this Christian State, and the BJP professedly vindicated all anti-Christian charges.
A few months further along the road with the BJP and the relations with the people who were once bashful about their feelings towards the BJP will be reinvented and that is the most important task that the BJP is now faced with. Development, progress and a government free from corruption has to be its principle focus because the eye that no longer beholds stagnation, the eye that beholds progress will no longer see the evil that it once thought existed because it would have become too subtle…the party will have to posit the realm of goodness, and the feeling that we have entered the realm of security, comfort, benevolence etc, feelings that excite all those impulses which had been threatened and limited by the evil impulses and hopefully a new light will dawn, a light that accepts once and for all that politics is not religion and that no political party should ever use religion to belittle another party because that would be blasphemy, though the converse may still continue, i.e religion may still adopt political means. It is easy to understand why the religious heads may discreetly indulge in politics – they too seek after power.
A political party’s virtues are called good depending on their consequences, not for the party but for us the people, for the society, and what precisely are these virtues – development, progress, security, food security, zero corruption, and to keep these virtues in place we need their opposites also and that unfortunately will remain in abundance in individuals, in men and women. Yes, politics is required more than anything else, even more than religion, to balance the evil instincts that dominate men and women violently and covetously and which increase in the desire to resist the efforts of reason to keep them in balance with their other instincts. It is in one’s politics that a teacher for virtue can be found, a teacher that tells us to desist from corruption even at the cost of a loss to oneself, because that is precisely what our neighbours see as virtuous…the ability to desist even when every opportunity presents itself.
The loss in a personal sense is a sacrifice that politicians must make for the benefit of the society, and though such a thought is far from the average Khasi Jaintia or Garo politician, it is nonetheless a necessity, because it would be far worse if the individual would think otherwise, and consider his preservation and development more important than his work in the service of the society. This is the distinction, the difference between politics and religion. Politics is concerned with the development and the preservation of the society, religion on the other hand the development and the salvation of the individual. We can see that we have been using politics to preserve our individual selves and are actually beginning to believe that our redemption can be had here and now through and from politics. We have seriously confused the two and that is why we have landed up as the most corrupt State, the worst performing State, while politicians have increased their net value in millions in the past five years.
Thus what should really be praised when virtues are considered is the sacrifice of the advantages of the individual in the interest of the State and the society. The individual is in a sense transforming himself into a mere function of the whole and therefore the loss of the individual is a gain for the society, which is something that is very unacceptable in a religious perspective. Basically what the whole matter transpires to is that the praise of virtue, or a virtuous person, is someone who is privately harmful to himself. We may teach people to be virtuous and to incorporate virtuous habits and in doing so make it appear as if virtue and personal advantage were one and the same thing, and may be in some ways some such relationship actually exists.
(The writer is a spokesperson of the Meghalaya BJP)
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