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Kuldip Nayar is a senior journalist, human rights activist and author.

Akhilesh shouldn’t become like Rahul

ole models inspire society to achieve greater heights. I mistook Uttar Pradesh's young Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to be a role model. His poll campaign was clean. When he barred the entry of the notorious D.P. Yadav into the Samajwadi Party, I was convinced that he would depart from the party's sordid past and begin a new chapter.

So I was taken aback when Akhilesh Yadav made Raja Bhaiya, who has numerous criminal cases pending against him, his Cabinet member. The induction of other ministers with a similar past has left me nonplussed. Akhilesh's defence of Raja Bhaiya made me believe that the young CM is another Rahul Gandhi in the making — lacking in substance but proliferating in rhetoric.

Perhaps there is a charitable explanation to both. They are carrying the baggage of the past, Akhilesh of Mulayam Singh Yadav's and Rahul of Sonia Gandhi's. The public expects them to pave a new path. They still have the opportunity to do so. But they owe so much to their families that they have to do what they are told to do. Consequently, they look like chips off the old block, receding into the shadows their respective political parties, the SP and the Congress, have cast across the country.

The ruling Congress may be blamed more than others because it is in power at the Centre. But the mess in the country is not its doing alone. Others too are guilty, with the BJP leading the pack. Not even one political party bothers about the country's future. Take the example of the Railway Budget. The focus was not on the budget, but on outgoing Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who was denounced by his own party, led by the whimsical Mamata Banerjee, for raising passenger fares after a decade.

There were hardly any discussions on how Trivedi had dealt with the much-needed modernisation of the Railways or the steps he had taken towards passenger safety. It was the drama between Trivedi and his party leader that held centre stage. The media went to town on this god-sent controversy. Why doesn't it look into Trivedi's allegation that his leaving was pre-planned?

If at all the incident underlined anything, it was that political parties were bereft of ideas and were not rising above their regional interests. The decreasing growth rate was not a spicy enough story for the parties that have turned the entire polity into a platform to display their oratorical skills and cheap political tricks. With the sole purpose of grabbing power, they are trying to destroy whatever development the country has achieved.

The scenario is so dismal, particularly on the economic front, that even a hint of progress is being opposed. No straight or honest thinking for the future is there. Politics has debased everything decent and has thrown the interest of the country to the wind.

The Congress and the BJP are so negative and so cussed in their approach towards each other that in the process they are hitting at India's vital interests. They are not introspecting whether by criticising one another they are bringing politics to the level of the bazaar and giving sanctity to corruption and crime.

"The nation owes it to the present and the succeeding generations to ensure that the administrative setup is not subverted in future in the manner it was done to serve the personal ends of any one individual or a group of individuals in or near the government?" This warning was given by Justice J.C. Shah after examining the excesses committed during the Emergency (1975-77). Neither Mrs Indira Gandhi, who returned to power even after having committed the excesses, nor the governments succeeding her paid any heed to the warning. Tomorrow's governments will do the same because power has become the end for all political parties, not an opportunity to serve the people.

have seen the standard of politics and governance deteriorating in the last six decades. I do not think that things will improve by changing the system, which, undoubtedly, is rotten to the core. There is no solution until we make our countrymen realise that they cannot be allowed to do certain things because they are thus hurting the nation as well as themselves. They have to be awakened to our value system, so that they can realise what is right and what is wrong.

This can be done partly in schools and colleges so that students can differentiate between moral and immoral, and partly by leaders in different fields, particularly the political, because people look up to them. They may not be a role model. Yet what they say affect their thinking. The media needs to play a significant role.

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