Of the many things the late Jyoti Basu taught me was that politics is the best way to serve the people. Today, unfortunately, politics has become service for himself or herself. Politicians are interested in attaining power and retaining it at any cost, whether through communal politics or personal attacks. It no longer depends on the principle of propriety. There is no approach to further the interests of the country. Nobody considers looking at problems from a national perspective; political parties are more interested in finding out how the problem can further their cause. The politics of reason and accommodation is no longer practised, and opposition at all cost, even to the extent of taking revenge, has become the aim. That is why even important pro-people issues are becoming matters of contentious debate. And as 2014 nears, we’ll certainly see greater inter-party rivalry and more shrill rhetoric. Narendra Modi’s comment’s only vitiated the atmosphere further. I think it would be tragic if Modi, who is a strong proponent of the two-nation theory, becomes the PM of our great nation.
What worries me most is the non-functioning of Parliament. It has become a disease. Policies aren’t being discussed and our entire approach to issues of national importance is being degenerated. As the Speaker, I had expelled some MPs in the cash-for-query scandal on the basis of the findings of an inquiry committee comprising members of different political parties in the Lok Sabha. This was done to send out the message that politicians can act when it comes to taking on problems that concern us. It was one way to remove the aberrations in politics that keep fresh blood away. One needs well-meaning and intelligent young people to come into politics. We need their ideas and commitment to the nation but they can hardly be inspired by what we have to show them.
As told to Debarshi Dasgupta
Somnath Chatterjee is the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha