Shankersinh Vaghela: Politics has undergone a sea change in the country. These days, anyone, however inefficient he or she may be, can get elected to power and often blessed with important positions in the governance system. Such representatives of people have a poor understanding of the ground realities prevalent in their constituencies and end up behaving as a representative of the party which gave them a ticket and not the people who voted them to power.
In such a situation, bureaucracy plays an important role and can ensure that the right decisions are taken by the government for the empowerment of people and the growth of the state. However, if the bureaucrat himself lacks the courage and the ability to get the right things done amid the unending political slugfest, and remains concerned about his own ‘benefits’, then the governance decisions taken mostly becomes counterproductive for the people and causes more damage than good.
The Gujarat Chief Minister runs the state government from Gandhinagar. So, it is possible that the concerns of those residing in distant areas of south Gujarat such as Dangs, Umargam, and Vansda might not reach his ears. In such a situation, it is the responsibility of the local MLAs to ensure that the concerns of people of his or her constituency should reach the government. Even the MPs can do their bit by highlighting local problems at the national level. But in the current disposition, the MLAs are not bothered to raise concerns of the locals. The peoples’ mandate will not work if those chosen by them cannot raise their problems. Nowadays, MLAs don’t raise local issues even in party meetings and many don’t even realise that they have the right to do so.
Be it a sarpanch or an MP, voters must ensure that they choose the right candidate. For this to happen, education is not enough. We also need an understanding of how democracy functions. It is like choosing a driver for a bus. If the right candidate is chosen, the passengers can be sure of safely reaching their destination. But if the driver is drunk, then he risks the lives of the passengers as well as his own life.
Similarly, we need to be careful about whom we hand over the steering wheel of our country. Because, the future of this country’s agriculture, business, employment, infrastructure, and overall well-being depends on who is at the steering. If the citizens look up to the government as a parent, then the government must look after the people. But now our protectors have turned predators.
It is time for the people to come out of their herd mentality and vote for leaders without thinking of caste, creed, religion, or state. Only then, we will see development. Only such a leader will be able to get the desired results out of bureaucracy. When a citizen can walk into a bureaucrat’s office without an appointment and seek answers for his problems, that day we can boast of achieving true development.The relation between the elected leader and the bureaucracy is that of a horse and its rider. If the rider knows how to control the horse, the journey.
(The writer is a former chief minister of Gujarat and is in active politcs for the last 50 years. The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gujarat Exclusive.)