From Where Does all this Money Come: Bourgeois Politics and its Cosmetic Image Building

It has all over the place – the news that Rahul Gandhi’s image needs a makeover and so does Congress’s. After all the latter is dependent on the former. In a party which could produce leaders only because they are followers of a dynasty the image of the dynasty seems to be waning in public memory. We all know that the BJP must be spending an equal or greater amount of money on the image building of its leader. The money as reported is huge – Rs. 500 crore.

One often wonders about the source of this money when the same parties make noise about minuscule amount of money spent by other parties. This money obviously does not come from anybody’s pocket, especially when these politicians try to show that they are quite poor in their election affidavits. This money could come only from those sources which would like them to work for their interests once they are in power – the corporates – or from sources which are better not revealed.

The next question is also about the shamelessness of these political forces which would not hesitate in spending such amount of money just presenting a ‘clean’ image but saying and writing openly how resource starved our nation is, that the state cannot arrange for education and health of its citizens. The amount of money that is spent on publicity by the state as well as the political parties is huge and if that is spent to evict private capital from education and health sector it can very well improve the situation. It will also save the state from admitting in its planning documents how resource starved they are and therefore would need the help of private sector.

Oh! Oh! I am missing the point perhaps. In fact, it might be working the other way round. They are paid by the corporates to say that the economy is resource starved and therefore private sector participation should be promoted. They do get promoted and in lieu of all this the parties and individuals get paid – a practice that is not uncommon in bourgeois politics as evident in US and other places.

But then this also makes it amply clear that this very nature of politics and policy making is dangerous and cannot be aligned with at any point of time. By image-makeover or image-building the actual face is hidden and a farce, superficial and false image is projected. It is important to take politics out of such practices and make it more truthful, non-ostentatious as well as close to reality and it cannot happen till dominant political forces continue to be bed-fellows of corporate houses in anyway.

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AAP and the Electricity Issue: Absence of an Alternative Imagination

Bourgeois politics in some of its forms employs excess of rhetoric, keeping us trapped in an imagination where the resolution of all problems lie within the system. It consistently reminds us that There Is No Alternative to Capitalism albeit in a slightly different language – a language which invited praise from everyone – from the ‘radical’ left to the not-so-radical left.

It argues that if there is problem of “theft” by private capital the ethics of “competition” will resolve the problem. More players and more competition would not allow the private capital to become unjustly profit-seeking. This is what AAP believes as the solution to the extortion by power companies in name of electricity bills. It would “apparently” offer choice to customers to buy electricity from the company that they wish. What if all the private companies together decide to increase the price because their motive will always be profiteering and hence they would not have a price that fetches them loss. Is is not possible to get out of the privatization of electricity? Why is privatization necessary? Obviously one is not seeking the cliche and bogus argument of private companies being more efficient and better services providers than the public sector.

It announced subsidy for the power companies soon after assuming power and said it is a short term measure and will soon go for some long term measures such as making electricity market more competitive. Why at all give subsidy to the companies? Why should the public money be given to corporate houses even as short-term measure? They could have waited for sometime and thought about first exposing the private companies through a genuine audit and then moved towards establishing an efficient public sector enterprise of electricity distribution. Everybody realizes that in a political system with sword of ouster hanging on their head they want to send messages of their concern to the masses and tell them how interested they were in resolving their problems but for Congress’s greed they could not.

If they have to build a public opinion they need to go beyond the appearances of populist measures and bring out the root cause behind the unnecessary costly electricity. It is because you give it to the private capital and which takes it for one and only one purpose – profiteering. If the root cause of profiteering is addressed one not only gets cheaper electricity but also generates better paid jobs with better service conditions and obviously with a work ethics which thrives on professionalism. But why does not AAP want to think in that direction? And why do not those who see a bright hope in it question these aspects?

Why should one start from the premise that only private capital can provide better services and not the public sector? Why do we imagine that public sector has to be inefficient when there are examples contrary to it as well? Why cannot we have a different imagination which says that it is possible to have an efficient public sector?

None of alternative imaginations even seem to be on horizon for a ‘people’s party’ like AAP and tragedy is that even those who thought that private capital needs to be rooted out find this absence of alternative imagination beautiful. We might need to expand our own horizon of thought and realize that there may be another form of bourgeois politics as well.