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Politicians are a cancer: Lyngdoh
December 25, 2003 15:43 IST
Chief Election Commissioner James Michael Lyngdoh has once again attacked politicians, calling them a "cancer" for which there was "no cure at the moment".
He also said there was no politician in the country who was committed to democracy and welfare of the people, and declared he would refuse any post-retirement job, even if offered.
The CEC, who will demit office in less than two months, said his parting message was to build pressure to incorporate free and fair elections as part of the fundamental rights of the Constitution.
In an interview to Karan Thapar on Hard Talk India programme in BBC World, he reiterated that if people were "exposed" to too much of politicians they might get "cancer". In fact, he added, politicians themselves were the cancer.
When told it was a stinging indictment of Indian democracy, Lyngdoh said it was because democracy meant a lot of other things.
"It is not merely going through the motions of an election. Democracy means basically individual freedom and that you respect individual freedom to the uttermost extent. I can't think of anybody around now."
Asked whether it meant today the country was ruled by people who really were not fit to rule, he replied in the affirmative.
To a question on the "pernicious influence" of politicians, Lyngdoh compared them to zamindars.
"Basically it is exploiting the potential, the resources of a particular state. That is how many of them look upon it. There are exceptions, but by and large this is so in the present circumstances."
The CEC said, "There are very few who talk to you on equal terms as a human being. Either they have their noses stuck in the air or they prostrate at somebody's feet. There is nothing in between."
Asked about the term "cheating" he used against politicians, Lyngdoh said it was his duty to do that because no one else was going to do it.
"It might seem strange but somebody has to do that. I think everyone is flattering them all the time and they only get worse. Somebody has to tell them they're not so lovely as they think they are."
The CEC also sought to correct the impression that India was a "marvellous democracy", saying it was "all self-flattery, self-blandishment". "We are all gloating over this when we ought not to and it is about time somebody speaks the truth."
On the perception that under him the EC was operating in confrontation with governments rather in coordination, he said it was "absolutely inevitable and you can't get away from it".
Lyngdoh said as an institution the commission had always had a power struggle with the executive to carry out proper elections.
On the perception that he shot down Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's suggestion for simultaneous parliamentary and assembly elections and Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's plea for early polls in Andhra Pradesh, he said there were just not enough forces to hold simultaneous elections.