‘Charisma’ and Indians!
Today, the local English newspaper of Indore, Free Press, ran an editorial that dealt in Indian politics and the charisma of the politicians influencing it. The author, V. Gangadhar, came up with facts and factors bolstering that the more a state was literate the lesser was the influence of personal charisma on it. He talked about Kerala, the most literate state of the country, where chief ministers likes Achutha Menon, A K Anthony and E K Nayanar were, though charismatic and could have used their personal charm to wheedle the masses but, diligently involved in cabinet and party decisions to lead the state towards progress. Then he had West Bengal and its 27 years long chief minister Jyoti Basu. Mr. Basu never sought any sort of charisma to rule the state to prosperity. On the other hand, he had a distinct rabble-rouser Balasaheb Thackeray and his Shiv Sena – which, in these days, is apparently under a threat of some inner-velitation. The author argued about how the Sena was conceived in 50’s without any political ideologies or manifestoes and how it survived as the most puissant political force of Mumbai for so many years. It was only out of the sheer charisma of Balasaheb. The same charisma helped Lalu Prasad in deferring the political rout he has just witnessed after 15 long years of misrule, rather tyranny. And who could deny the references to the Telegu Desham chieftain N T Ramarao who within 8 months of forming his party ousted the well entrenched congress, especially M G Ramachandran despite his fully rooted background in Dravidian movements for a long time. It was also the power of sheer charisma.
The author reasoned very well, and toiled hard in gathering up the facts. He hailed both sides, but eventually came to notice that only charisma could not lead to a successful political career. It’s true. The recent debacle of Lalu and the upbringings in BJP – out of Uma Bharati’s cognizance that she was overlooked for the MP chair of Madhya Pradesh – justifies that people can’t tolerate misrule, criminality, classicism or profanity, blasphemy just for a charisma of someone. Sure, personal charm does help in attracting people, but it offers no assistance in holding them. This kind of aid too comes with discrete drawbacks. A charismatic leader is more under the public-and-media scrutiny. His every move is noticed, every action marked, and a small digression could bring him to dust. Rajiv Gandhi had this charm, and he used it to perch to the chair of PM, but Bofors scandal ruined him. Indira Gandhi was hit by emergency.
We are a nation of hero worshippers. We can smash up Babri Mosque when Uma Bharati wails “ek dhakka aur de do.” We can keep Lalu for he sits and meals with us despite his facetious lullabies and hollow promises. We can flock out of the hospital when Amitabh Bachchan fights for his life. Even, we can buy Lux soaps since Shah Rukh Khan is endorsing it. But that’s it. Nothing more.
We wouldn’t let any charm, any charisma, anything, and anything at all, fool us. We are innocent but not fool. We have shown it in Bihar, and can confirm it again anywhere required.