Democracy is a great leveller. It votes politicians into power; it votes them out of power. Those who move up will also move down. History judges them by the number of supporters that are left when they are down. Yesterday, on 14th December, 2013, we witnessed a Press Conference by the Vice President of the Congress Party flanked by ministers and another leader. The virtues of the Select Committee report and the Lokpal Bill were informed to the whole country. The body language of the four gentlemen who met the Press was a changed one. This was in sharp contrast to the stand of these leaders in the past three years. Earlier they had prevented Shri Anna Hazare even from sitting on a fast in support of the Lokpal Bill. They had involved Team Anna in endless negotiations only to reject all proposals. They introduced an unacceptable Bill in the Lok Sabha which was described as a ‘game changer’. It was unilaterally passed in the Lok Sabha in the face of resistance by the combined Opposition. When the Rajya Sabha sought to amend the Bill, the House was adjourned at midnight. When the Select Committee made recommendations, the same were placed before the parliament after almost a year. They insisted that the CBI would be under the government and not under the Lokpal.
But Yesterday, both the language, approach and the body language was different. After electoral wrap on the knuckles, the mighty had fallen. The ‘game changer’ had been abandoned. They were now looking for a conciliatory approach.
A fundamental change in democratic functioning is that power no longer vests in one institution. There is a spread of political power. Government, Opposition, Judiciary, Media, Bureaucracy, Civil Society, Public opinion are all repositories of power. Any one institution assuming all powers to itself is bound to be misled. Arrogance can never be strength. It is a mask for lack of confidence. Arrogant people are not learners. Arrogance should never be confused with confidence. Arrogance leads to over-belief in yourself. Yesterday’s Press Conference only reaffirms this.
This should also be a lesson for the new emerging AAP. The party has done remarkably well in the recent elections to Delhi Assembly. Its celebratory mood has converted itself into one of arrogance. The BJP has an absolute majority in three State assemblies. Two of them have been won with overwhelming majority. The BJP is the largest single party in the fourth assembly. The joy and celebrations ended on day one. The party got into the work mode on the next day itself. Maintaining dignity, grace and humility after victory is essential. Arrogance can be the first sign of downfall. What goes up in politics also comes down. It is this feeling amongst others which must inculcate humility in politics. The AAP party must learn from this. Today they challenge political opponents. They are disrespectful to leaders of other parties. Their letters to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Rajnath Singh are worded impolitely. Today, even their mentor Anna is not being spared.
For the political class it should be a learning experience. After three years of arrogant attitude towards Lokpal, the Congress has decided to climb down. One hopes that the AAP party learns from this.