Attempts have been made by people to ignore and forget V P Singh but perhaps he will always be relevant and no one can deny his space in the history of India as a leader who changed the destinies of millions and gave the Brahmanical polity the unrecoverable jolt of its life.
At a time when the country is facing a difficult political situation and the citizens have made up their mind about defeating sectarian communal forces, the other political parties seem to be engrossed in calculating their petty interests and are oblivious to the need of joining hands and defeating the forces that are attacking our constitution and civility.
Not that they should not think about their interests but it is equally important to look at the broader issues of endangered polity and how can they fight it together.
Many corrupt deals at the highest level have been exposed. The message being sent to the masses is that a few corporates have made considerable profits while the country is still gripped with corruption. The reason for this is simple. The people who are raising it may be new, but have a lot of burden of their past legacies from which they have benefited. Unless they are able to take an unbiased stand on that, it would be difficult.
Today we are remembering a man who passed on in silence when Mumbai saw an attack on its identity on November 26, 2008, and people and media were glued to the TV, watching a terrorist attempt on our constitution. The man who had influenced India's polity more than anyone else at least in independent India passed away in Delhi without any media mentions or publicity. Yes, V P Singh went into silence permanently on November 27 without the media or associates who benefited from him and his politics, remembering him.
V P Singh created history everywhere he went. And his fight against corruption, particularly against those who were holding high offices as well as against the corrupt crony industrialists gave the country hope. The people listened to him and felt he was genuinely interested in eliminating corruption. Corruption became the issue of the people. Many 'experts' feel that Bofors was not a big scandal and they are correct if we compare it to the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal or any other deals. But we need to understand as to why despite a huge scandal, this has not become a major issue among the masses. Are the people asking the kind of questions on Rafale as they did during Bofors? Perhaps not that much.
To understand this phenomenon, we need to understand that there is no magic wand to convert an issue into a national obsession. V P Singh, unlike others, was actually a politician with an immense relationship with the people. He was extraordinarily simple and honest.
That apart, his access to common karyakartas and local political leaders, student leaders, communities, intellectuals, civil society people and others made him a remarkably different person. In the post-emergency India, there are very few political leaders who had respect for intellectuals and creative persons and VP was one of them. As the polity became too individualistic and politicians became brands themselves, the other things disappeared.
Party became the main thing while promoting and encouraging young leaders was sidetracked. I have not seen political leaders directly engaging with students and encouraging young leaders to join politics after that. So much happened in the past four years. Our campuses were on fire and there was a huge resentment but who organised this huge chunk of youngsters dissatisfied with the current system? Where is the link between the civil society, the intellectuals and student leaders? Those who should have been doing it are silent while those who want to change the constitution and do away with it, are working overtime.
The parties of social justice and those who are dedicated to the ideals of Ambedkar, Lohia and other legends need to engage with civil society organisations, intellectuals, students and communities more to create new leadership. We need a multiplicity of leaders and not merely those few who can fight elections. The world is changing and cannot be confined to those who contest a few elections. It is much bigger than that.
The crisis today is the high inaccessibility of the political class. Count any of the great leaders of our time and you will find a few things in common. You may agree or disagree with them but their connect with masses remained. They created new leaders, from absolutely untested one and provided opportunities. Ideologically they were clear. You can count very few of them. V P Singh was one of them. Late Kanshiram created the whole movement and a dedicated team of Ambedkarites all over the country. All of this does not come without a clear and unambiguous ideology. That apart, all of them remained absolutely uncorrupted. No one could purchase them. They remained humble to the core.
If corruption has to become a major issue, then the communication is important. The communicator should be clear and absolute in their terms, whether he would be selective in choosing targets or would rather talk about himself. V P remained honest in his personal life. Leaders of today are so drowned in corruption that when they speak, the masses don’t listen to them. Rahul is young and making efforts but they fall short because of Congress Party's own track record. They have never been that clean, particularly after Indira Gandhi. Nehruvian Congress was not merely secular but also ideologically committed and clean unlike the gangs promoted by Sanjay Gandhi and the likes.
Politics was never the same after that.
The crisis of being V P are many. It is a lesson for all. One, when we fight an ideological battle, it is difficult. You won’t get much support. In our society, most of our allegiance to our people is because of our caste, community, religious and regional linkages and associations. If you venture beyond this then you might get isolated. V P Singh ventured beyond that and got lost in the din and noise of politics, which became a family venture or of private limited companies with chamchas. He did not have a strong party network. I tried to cobble together various groups and parties but that will only work when only one person wants power otherwise these associations are bound to fail.
It is important for all of us to learn from the experiences, failure and success stories of all those who matter in our political lives. Attempts have been made by people to ignore and forget V P Singh but perhaps he will always be relevant and no one can deny his space in the history of India as a leader who changed the destinies of millions and gave the Brahmanical polity the unrecoverable jolt of its life.