The recent announcement by the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad that he would reward party tickets to only those who have served a jail term, reminds me of similar criteria for jobs for people who were active in the political movement for the separate state of Uttarakhand. Here too the candidates had to authenticate their involvement in the movement through jail term and or arrested as per police records. Lalu may be maverick politician for many and though he still has the grassroots understanding of politics, his call for jail term for ticket could turn out to be a disaster in making leaders for future.
The historical roots to this can be traced to freedom struggle, where freedom fighter got benefits in post independent India in form of political posts, jobs and other benefits and then pension and later for their spouse and some state even gave benefits to their children.
Back home in Uttarkhand many people who took active part in the movement for the formation of the state were given government jobs in the state, particularly those who served a term of minimum seven days in jail. Though now some changes have come up to define those actively involved in the statehood movement. It is reported that the state government has received many applications, appeals and agitations can still be seen now and than for government jobs by those involved in the statehood movement.
Many like me who were active in the movement for separate state in our student and university days and were active in public forums, mass meetings, dharna/pardarshan, rallies, student elections, writings in papers and magazines, have no police records of being active in the movement. May be the intelligence set up has some document/report to prove our active participation!
From giving ticket for elections to a later demand for jobs to those who have served jail term will only make mockery of our democratic system. Joining any political movement, without knowing its future implications and irrespective of any ideology is negation of democratic values. While political movement for separate states across the country may be justified, the youth and students will join the movement and perforce create havoc to force police action and a jail term thus hoping to be probable candidate for election and also listed for a government jobs. This kind of mobilization for political movements will dilute the essence of democratic right and lead to further political dissent in any state. Fighting for education, health and employment in a democratic manner is correct, but to mobilize the people and youth for election tickets and employment through jail term, shows misuse of democratic rights. When government offices will get filled with political prisoners, an apolitical and neutral bureaucracy will be difficult to maintain, thus eroding the very basis of the modern state.
Today in Uttarkhand there is demand for having a permanent state capital at Gairsain, with a view that this will usher in an overall development of the hill state. Imagine a political call for this, through jail baro and a hope for government job. With government jobs shrinking and limited tickets to give, Lalu’s type of call will only bring discontent and in turn lead to further political turmoil in any state.