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Against the popular will

April 08, 2004 00:53 IST

Some people will never learn.

Once again the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference has called for a boycott of the electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir.

There was a time, in the 1990s, when the Hurriyat's boycott calls worked, though it was probably more for fear of the terrorists who enforced the boycott.

But in September 2002, the people of Jammu and Kashmir came out in strength to choose their own state government. And indications are that the turnout this time will also be good.

But if the Hurriyat insists on making itself irrelevant, who can object?

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. The corollary is that it makes for stranger enemies.

Who would have ever dreamt that the Congress would support Ram Jethmalani? Likewise, who would have believed that Jethmalani would contest against Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself?

But it's true. Not just the Congress, but even the Left parties are supporting Jethmalani, who is contesting the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat as an independent.

Jethmalani believes Vajpayee has been a disaster as prime minister and that India Shining is a sham.

Maybe if the former law minister had not been eased out of Vajpayee's Cabinet in July 2000, he would have held a different opinion now.

Why is it that every little community that has a grievance in India threatens to boycott the elections in protest?

Why is it that people fail to see that most times by boycotting elections or even making it sound like a valid form of protest, they are simply hurting their own case?

In the latest case, the Christians in Gujarat are upset that the state government has withdrawn Good Friday from the list of public holidays. Their answer: a threat to boycott the forthcoming Lok Sabha election!

Sure, Good Friday is an important holiday, one that has been accepted in India for a long time. And the Christians have a point when they say that the decision of the BJP government in Gujarat has hurt their sentiments.

But what are they going to achieve by boycotting the election? If a group or community is not strong enough to influence the election, what impact is their boycott going to make?

It is touching to see the love and affection of politicians for the people when elections come around.

Congress politicians are worried that employment is shrinking and industrial growth is declining. Their remedy: to accelerate growth to 10 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, on the other hand, is yearning to help the people of Uttar Pradesh get rid of their backwardness and the stigma of being one of the BIMARU (acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which also means sick in Hindi) states.

The people, of course, are left to wonder why none of this concern and affection is in evidence when these worthies are indeed in a position to do something worthwhile.

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