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Our politicians lie to us, because we don’t care

2 February, 2021 13:04:32
Our politicians lie to us, because we don’t care

No evidence needed, nor even an attempt to present any. No need to support one’s imagined allegations with concrete examples. No hesitation in passing off one’s personal belief as fact. Talk is cheap, as they say, so all you need do is to go up on a podium, heap infamy and allegations on your opponent, garner cheap applause, and get off the podium, secure in the knowledge that at worst, all you will face is a defamation suit in court. Such suits are a dime a dozen in this country, and in most cases, you can wriggle out of the mess with nothing but an apology. That’s the debit side. On the credit side, you’ve gained your TRP ratings, and set tongues wagging. Isn’t that what politics is all about?

Sadly, that is what politics in this country, particularly this state, has come to be all about. Unsubstantiated, unsupported allegations made in the crudest possible language, and a whole lot of downright abuse to accompany it. As Winston Churchill once said, though the quote was possibly not his own: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on.” Quite naturally, by the time a baseless allegation is proved to be a lie, nobody really cares about the truth any more.

In an age when information can be disseminated through so many platforms - from public rallies to social media - a sensational lie is so much more attractive as an item of gossip than boring old truth.

And yet, this wasn’t always the case, certainly not in Bengal. Politics in this state has always accommodated a whole host of ideologies and beliefs, very often polar opposites of each other. However, despite all the professional, and occasionally personal, differences, one rarely witnessed the descent into unrestrained mudslinging that seems to have become the norm these days, rather than the exception that it used to be.

A few days ago, the name of a noted Bengali singer-politician was dragged through the aforementioned mud at a public rally, by another politician from Medinipur who has recently, and famously, changed sides. The ugly charges had not a shred of evidence to support them, but as is the norm these days, just forcefully stating a lie seems enough to turn it into a truth. In their quest to serve themselves, our politicians seem to have discarded the need to even keep up a pretense of maintaining a healthy, balanced political environment. And once the initial barrier of decency was breached, the tendency has spread with the rapidity of cancer cells. 

But this isn’t the worst of it. What is truly alarming is why our leaders feel they can get away with such behaviour. The simple answer is - lack of public accountability. They know that from one rally to the next, they can trumpet one baseless charge after another, because nobody will follow up on their lies. Those who attend these rallies, the voters who supposedly decide their fates, will never ask them to furnish evidence to support their outrageous claims. 

In an age when information can be disseminated through so many platforms - from public rallies to social media - a sensational lie is so much more attractive as an item of gossip than boring old truth. Tragically, the line between speculation and belief is rapidly being blurred in the public mind, and politicians are doing everything they can to help the process along. 

Bengal goes to the polls this year, which is why the political rhetoric in this state is rapidly reaching fever pitch. While it is reasonable to expect harsh criticism of the party in power by those in the opposition, what has turned the political battle into a disgusting free for all is the realisation on the part of the politicians that they need not watch what they say, or how they say it, because the people have not made them accountable. They are under no obligation to tell the truth, because their lies provide entertainment for a populace that has forgotten what facts look like. 
 

Story Tag:
  • Lie vs Truth

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