1. Tamilnadu CM Jayalalitha was admitted at the Apollo Hospital on September 22 for an acute lung infection and she was on respiratory support.
  2. She was recovering until the last evening when suddenly she had a cardiac arrest and now is on crucial life support system. Her situation is extremely grave as of now.
  3. Hundreds of Ms Jayalalithaa’s supporters have been outside the hospital overnight, and the crowds are now swelling after the latest statements from doctors, with people wailing and weeping and praying for their leader’s recovery.
  4. There is heavy security outside the hospital, with barricades put up all over. The police, on high alert, have blocked roads leading up to the hospital to avoid congestion.
  5. She is 68 and at this age, health issue are normal so why this all hullabaloo? Just because she is a CM, and people are sympathizers and therefore they are coming out in support? Is this the real reason?
  6. More than the illness of the politicians, it is sickness in the minds of people which troubles the country for the present and the times to come.
  7. The sickness is called the ‘Personality cult’.
  8. A heroic worship of a leader, creation of an idealized image of the leader that he or she can’t do any wrong and as a result people resort to his worship, flattery and praise and don’t question him or her on their policies for which they have been elected is called the cult of personality.
  9. It is not new to India and in 1949, BR Ambedkar, the chairman of the Constitution’s drafting committee spoke in the Constituent Assembly on India’s tendency towards hero worship.
  10. His reference was towards Gandhi Ji to whom people saw as Mahatma. When such tendencies develop, the reasoning abilities of the followers is lost and democrats tend towards dictators. Leaders also tend to become exploiters.
  11. See North Korea, where the present dictatorship under Kim Jong-Un started from the charisma and personality cult built around his grand father Kim-il-Sung in 1948, carried forward by his father Kim Jong-il from 1994 and finally handed over to himself in 2012.
  12. Surprisingly North Koreans accept all the nonsense orders and policies framed by Kim-Jong-Un because the cult of personality is deeply embedded in their minds and they have lost the capacity to reason and question their leaders even if they cause them so much of misery!
  13. What are the bigger challenges with Personality cult in Indian politics?
  14. In India the personality cult in the post Independence era has numerous examples. Before Jayalalitha, MG Ramachandran the former CM commanded a bigger fan following in Tamilnadu, Y V Rajashekhara Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, Mayawati and Mulayam command the same in UP and as a result, despite lack of development, people have been voting and still vote for them again and again.
  15. Indira Gandhi also a had huge fan following, which developed a cult around her personality and as a result, when she was assassinated, people voted in large numbers for Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 election despite knowing the fact that he was inexperienced, new to politics and a responsible post like PM would not be suitable for him.
  16. The biggest disadvantage is the birth of dynasty politics. People voted for father, now would vote for the son or daughter even if they don’t deserve.
  17. Rahul Gandhi, Pankaja Munde, Omar Abdullah, and extended Yadav families of UP and Bihar are the glaring examples of the above argument.
  18. Who loses in all this? You know it well. It’s the people.
  19. Leaders take the people for granted and invoke sentiment for support whenever they fail to achieve their commitment for development.
  20. On leaders call, people respond overwhelmingly. Reasons and culture of questioning dies a slow death and sycophancy cultivates.
  21. Followers also resort to strikes, hartals, violence etc in case leader dies. This bring loss of lives to innocents and causes great inconvenience to the common man.
  22. After death, valuable public money is spent on immortalization of the leader.
  23. Sculptures, Museums etc are established, history is distorted to show him or her, next to god and government properties like bungalows in which they once lived are encroached upon in the name of people’s sentiment.
  24. Actually the personality cult in politics reverses the sense of responsibility in people and the politicians.
  25. Rather politicians being responsible towards people, People are made to feel that it is their responsibility to vote for leader else their loyalty is questionable and questioning the leader is like an act of treason or being a traitor!
  26. This is also being seen at the national level. PM may not believe in idol worship but many organizations affiliated to BJP are faster than speed of light to declare you a traitor if you dare to question the leader.
  27. If the cult has to be developed it should be around demand for transparency, good governance and progressive processes and not towards any person.
  28. Persons would come and go, but the processes would remain and a cult of right thing would enrich the lives of future generation which the present generation would leave behind.