KARNATAKA Shows the Way

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Speaking Tree | May 04, 2018

In the run-up to State elections in Karnataka, MAULANA WAHIDUDDIN KHAN offers advice as an elder to both voters and neta-aspirants

Elections are to be held in Karnataka on May 12, 2018. Being an elderly citizen of India, it is my earnest desire to see that this election in Karnataka proves to be a trendsetter. It should show to all the states of India as to what role should be performed in the elections by a free nation.

Free And Fair

In the upcoming elections in the state of Karnataka all we can appeal for is freedom and fairness,both being necessary conditions of true democracy. If an election is to be fair, election campaigns must focus on truly national issues and no attempts should be made to misguide voters. The basic purpose of democracy is to provide opportunities by maintaining peace in social life. Democracy involves two phases: pre-election and post-election. In the pre-election period, various political parties compete with each other to win the election. But after the election, the fervour of competition and rivalry needs to be brought to an end.This is the time when both sides must coordinate and cooperate with each other for the greater good of the people and country. An important principle that needs to be borne in mind is that parties should, during the campaigning period, refrain from using divisive language and fiery rhetoric to garner votes.‘Discourses’ that provoke hatred and create an unhealthy mindset in people will make their effects felt even after the campaigning is over.The sensitive nature of the impact that their speeches can have on the public should make politicians very responsible. It is they who can influence people’s opinions and ways of thinking.Therefore,the role of neta-aspirants is very serious indeed. Political candidates and leaders must work towards the intellectual training of the public. It is the foremost duty of netas to help foster a culture of harmony, tolerance and work for the greater good of the nation, instead of becoming myopic and being concerned for the advancement of their own particular community or group. After elections, the winning party must place itself at the service of the nation, rather than use its success merely to ensure its victory in the next election. Similarly, the defeated party must accept its defeat with equanimity. It should refrain absolutely from launching negative campaigns directed at ousting the victorious party.This constructive approach is a prerequisite for the success of democracy and for the progress of the nation. Continuing on the course of confrontation and mindless denunciation of the other, even after elections can jeopardise the functioning of society. After elections, political parties need to rise above their differences and work jointly for the best interests of society. For voters, it is important that they vote according to national interests. If they belong to a certain community or group, they should take care of their own community interests, but should not drag these interests into the elections. Elections are linked to the future of our country and society, and so people should vote in a way that could promote national interests, and not according to the perceived sectional interests of the community to which they belong.

Common Welfare

In a democracy, you cannot function with the logic that this party is pro- ‘your community’ and that party is anti-‘your community’. Those who have this kind of mindset, do just negative voting. Their only intention is to defeat this or that party that they think is not favourable to their community or group interest. This is not positive thinking nor is it democratic culture. In a democracy, there is no permanent friend or foe.You have to recognise that your interests lie in the greater national interest. The only condition is to be able to rise above all kinds of biases.Voters should use their intellect to vote in a manner that promotes the common good rather than aggravate caste, community and religious strife. As an elder, I would like to advise them to make the most intelligent choice that will promote common welfare.

Peaceful Approach

Under M K Gandhi’s leadership, India set the example that fighting or violence was not required to gain independence; that by means of peaceful struggle a country could be set free from the mighty British empire.The second role of India after Independence was to set an example of how a free nation can successfully hold free and fair elections. The world had acknowledged the peaceful role of India, but we could not maintain this standard after Independence. John Kenneth Galbraith, once US Ambassador to India, had called India a ‘functioning anarchy.’ I am not judging the rightness or wrongness of this statement,but I certainly wish India could set an example to dispel this image, and show to the world that it is a responsible nation. History has again given an opportunity to rectify the situation. I hereby wish to appeal to people to take part in the elections with the national spirit. If the people of Karnataka follow this suggestion, they can rise and serve as a beacon of light to the whole country. History will give them the credit for having given the right lead not only to the state but also to the entire country. I pray to God for the people of Karnataka to emerge during this election as torchbearers. Karnataka may rank seventh among the Indian states in terms of area, but the forthcoming elections have provided it a chance to emerge as the first state of India with regards to overall development. Elections are a kind of political management, and by ideally managing the elections as free and fair, it can give a lead to the whole country.