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Political competition, greed hindering participation in our multi-party democracy

By Harasankar Adhikari 

People’s participation is the absolute method to ensure the progress of people by the people. Democracy and democratic rules are being enacted in India for this specific purpose. In India, democratic rights (mainly within the limit of only voters’ rights) have been established to form a democratic government by the elected representatives of a multi-party political system. The enactment of the Panchayat Raj Act has ensured people’s participation at the grass-root. The strengthening of local self-government is a major instrument. Is this enough for a democratic nation? Is it an effective measure to honour people? Locals serve as stooges for various political leaders in various hierarchies. They have no right to say the truth. When they want to speak out against malpractice or corruption, they are silenced or threatened by democratic leaders and their administration. Sometimes, they have fitted themselves within the system of corruption or malpractice.
What does "participation" mean? It is the voluntary contribution by people to projects, but without their taking part in the decision-making process; it is the sensitization of people to increase their receptivity and ability to respond to development projects; it is an active process – fostering a dialogue between the local people and policy planners; it is the voluntary involvement of people in self-determined change; and it is involvement in people’s development of themselves, their lives, and their environment. Participation has two folds – instrumental participation (when participation is viewed as a way of achieving certain specific targets, and transformational participation (when participation is viewed as an object in and of itself, and as a means of achieving some higher objectives such as self-help and/or sustainability.
Unfortunately, political competition and the greed of political leaders divert our true sense of participation in our multi-party democracy. Participation is color-based or political party-centric. Corruption has had an impact on all aspects of democracy. of implementation of development and relief activities of the government witnesses the same. Here, the selection of beneficiaries of different schemes, i.e. BPL card, MGNEGRA – job cards, old age pension, and relief during disasters, is according to the will of the political party and its leaders. It is a sincere technique to make people dominant and dependent on a particular political party. People are either corrupted or made silent in their corruption. Their participation is threatened or feared.
Recently, corruption has been reported as rampant (in West Bengal). Corruption has spread over all wings in every sphere of daily life. Development and corruption are now synonymous. The ruling government of West Bengal claims that Bengal is "floating with development". Now they are making an effort to see Bengal as "Viswa Bangla". Of course, it is limited only to publicity with a logo. There are several development activities (full corruption). Corruption is being officialised. People are mostly silent spectators. They see nothing, they speak nothing, but they know everything. It is a matter of hope that the judiciary has taken an active role in ending it.
Charlie Chaplin once remarked, ‘the misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed- the bitterness of men who fear the way of progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people, will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.’
Will we look to the future? Or we have to join our hands to save ourselves.

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