Politics make for strange bedfellow, as they say and you will find the strangest combination of men and women making up the various political parties, from the modern, couldn’t care less type to the thoroughly conservative — a matter of expediency, no doubt! They might have their differences; they might want to murder each other but they grin and bear it, not for the sake of the country but to get a piece of the lucrative pie that is available while running its affairs.
But it is to be pondered why the masses rally around the leaders because they neither benefit in any other way nor get rewarded with a high office — or even a job if they are without one. Any demonstration by a political or religious leader and scores of supporters from the under-privileged strata of society are ready to brave the heat (or cold) a crackdown by the police and even jail, just to join in the ‘tamasha’.
While religious rallies may see supporters come out in the mistaken notion that their religion is under threat from ‘kafirs’ and they have to save it, it is though provoking to see political rallies attended by crowds of people in large numbers. Is it because they have nothing better to do; are they motivated by party policies, or to be more realistic, are they paid to come out and make as much noise as they can while waving banners and chanting slogans? Look carefully next time you watch a televised speech by a political entity and you will notice a man behind him wave his hands, gesturing upwards and the crowd in front will immediately hail the pearls of wisdom being spouted by the leader making the speech.
Driving behind the man in the picture who was careening down a side street the day there was an election for one of the PA seats from Rawalpindi and curiosity on the above questions getting the better of me, I stopped and asked him why he was riding hell for leather in such a careless manner. He informed he was going to join the rally in favour of a candidate — who was obviously a member of the PML-N judging from the flag the man was flying on his bicycle — then he would cast his vote and he was late. When questioned why he liked the politician, he replied he did not know the man and had not even heard of him!
The conversation went something like this.
“So, why are you voting for him?”
“Ahsi” (just like that)
“There has to be a reason.”
It turned out he lived in the voting constituency and had been approached by party workers to fly the flag and go and vote. Since he had no intention of going to vote because “candidates promise a lot but never do anything,” he agreed.
He began to look guilty or shamefaced, depending on how you look at such expressions and said again, “Ahsi.”
“Did you receive money?”
His eyes widened for a second, there was some apprehension; a little surprise and a “who are you to question me” look before he jumped on his bike again and scurried away with the words, “Bibi. I am late.”
His behaviour kind of answered the question but it would be interesting to do a survey and find out who gives what to underprivileged voters — food, money or just laray lappa! The truth might then erode the theory that a ‘popularly elected government’ is chosen by ‘the people’ and democracy has triumphed — and we wouldn’t have to hear every Tom, Dick and Harry claim that ‘sola kuror awam’ had voted for him-her!
The News, 10/7/2008