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A red herring.

Are the country's political elites not to ever change and continue chasing red herrings, keeping the real issues on hold? What indeed is so big a deal about electoral reforms that missives are coming in flying from top executive offices and a parliamentary panel is frantically in the making in all haste in response? The pretence is that reforms would strengthen democracy in the country. But a democracy we are not, conclusively, palpably and demonstrably. Then what is this reform venture to make strong? The plutocracy that we in all reality are? Isn't it?

The plain truth is that the whole of this reform charade is driven to straighten up some ruffles in the electoral dispensation that a section of our plutocrats whine lead up to electoral frauds. It has nothing to do with democracy. Arguably, the political elites have all along employed the democracy cover to entrench unshakably in the political ring, keep the entire national politics under its thumb, and consequently monopolise full dominance on the state's executive and legislative branches to the exclusion of outsiders, the nation's hoi polloi in particular. Then, how could this reform measure be a step towards cementing the democracy's roots in the country? Can indeed any venture be deemed a democracy-enterprise that makes for no meaningful, substantive and dynamic inclusion of the masses in the system, which indeed in reality is what is a democracy? Can anyone recall how often was it said that hold elections again and again and a true leadership would eventually emerge from amongst the masses, making us a democracy in the real sense? Has that happened? Over the past well over three decades, several elections have been held. Hasn't it that it is only the oligarchy of political elites that has wholly dominated the electoral domain and only its own stars have turned out triumphantly in every election? Can anyone honestly say if it is not so? Can anyone deny truthfully if the same dynasties, the same pedigrees and the same patriarchies have not made to the legislatures and to the governments? What really can one hope for a real democracy when the political oligarchs allow no democracy to their own parties which they keep jealously under their thumbs?

In fact, in the established democracies it is the political parties that serve as the nurseries of true leadership and which provide the springboards to the really talented but people of humble means to shine over the political landscape and rise up the ladder to the positions of prestige in the political arena and to the positions of authority in the state structure. The parties stand by them, prop them up, and employ their treasures and apparatuses to promote and support them crucially. And it is by dint of this feat that not only a once tea boy in India has now risen to its highest executive post of prime minister, many others too have over the times kissed this top. It indeed is for the party that a grocer's daughter, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, and a school teacher, John Major, made to the office of the Prime minister in Britain. In India itself, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born with no silver spoon in his mouth as wasn't Manmohan Singh. Yet both occupied the prime minister's post, twice each, thanks to this party phenomenon.

Indeed, pages would be required just to name the numerous political figures with very ordinary backgrounds rising up to the highest positions in politics and in power. Can a tea boy or a school teacher or a grocer's daughter even imagine grabbing a party position, leave alone capturing power here in this country? Absolutely unthinkable, isn't it? Here, political parties, almost from one to all, have been reduced into family fiefdoms by a few plutocrats. And it is the family that dominates and domineer the whole party apparatus. It is the patriarchs' siblings and scions that grow and flourish. All others are just their lackeys and hangers-on. And it is they alone who would be grabbing positions of power and prestige in the state structure as well.

Verifiably, the stranglehold of this oligarchy of the political elites is so tight on politics and state apparatus that it has snuffed out the outlet of local governments for the meritorious but with limited means to make to the tops in politics and in the state. Factually, in many an entrenched democracy over the period city mayors have shown up with their performance so brilliantly that the electorate gratifyingly chose them for the highest state offices when they threw their hats in the electoral ring. Nicolas Sarkozy, former French President, and his immediate predecessor, Jacques Chirac were originally city mayors and so was Recep Tayyib Erdogan, Turkish prime minister. In our own land, the political oligarchy has shut that door too on a budding political stardom rising up from slums. Not only are the plutocrats dilly-dallying on reviving the local governments, they are even chasing out rising stars. Mustafa Kamal as Karachi mayor had really created enormous name, not just nationally but internationally too, for his work. But now he is not even in the country. It indeed is not electoral reforms but crushing the stranglehold of the political oligarchy on politics that is needed to usher in a true democracy in the country.
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Publication:Frontier Post (Peshawar, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 6, 2014
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