‘People say you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it’. These golden lines are true for most of us but for politicians who take power, the feeling of entitlement and legion of sycophants for granted, they ring truer. They just have to lose an election to realize that they had been deluding themselves all along and that they are left with practically no one, not even the shadow that deserts us when darkness descends. While the supposedly humble follower, the sycophant singing peans of praise and the local satrap may be quick to change guard, switching loyalties without batting an eyelid, the leader himself, alas lacks this freedom (Of course we have exceptions of a few smaller leaders merging their parties with established ones). While the entire bunch is united in fooling the electorate to gain power, we all know how sinking ships are deserted by rats. I was amused to see the antics of the follower of the regional political party whose leader’s attempt at scoring a hat-trick third term was cut short by the ignominious defeat in the state elections. The man in question had calmly switched sides and was going about his role of loyal follower of a changed boss to the hilt. What’s worse, he was even speaking up against the faulty policies and arrogance of his former boss whose shortcomings he was blind to, when he was in power. Moving as an assistant to another party leader who was rewarded with a position in the new dispensation, he was quick to adapt to change. He is not alone though. The political landscape in the pre and post-election stage is filled with dozens of such characters. The leaders themselves are no saints and have no qualms of getting rid of close confidantes when they feel that they are of no use to them.

So, when a party comes to power are we looking forward to a new team that will come up with solutions to age old problems with fresher perspectives? Sadly not. While some leaders from the old dispensation would have switched loyalties based on which way the wind is blowing even before the elections, a few seasoned leaders just walk over as seamlessly as crossing a footpath taking with them their voters and demands as they enter the ruling team after their own leader concedes defeat. Strangely they suffer from amnesia forgetting all the choicest abuses that they had hurled in the past while sporting the colour of the opposing party. The new leader too suffers from a similar malady as he warmly embraces a former foe and heaps praises on him.

 There are no permanent friends or foes in politics and one can both berate a leader and hug him like a long lost brother if the occasion demands it. We are constantly bombarded with rhetoric by people without ethics or ideologies who use these very words when they shift loyalties. Left with very little choice as we deal with a system where ‘the art of survival’ supersedes every other quality, we have to play it by the ear and ‘go with the lesser evil’ every time we exercise our rights in a democracy. Nothing succeeds like success. Different ideologies merge, party colours are swapped and ‘new camaraderie’ envelopes our politicians as they unite in their pursuit of power. Leaders and their minions are all one and adept at holding on to power. The poor voter is satisfied with temporary gains and freebies and accepts these from anyone who gives it. It is those who hold heated drawing room discussions on politics that are the only ones that make foes out of friends through endless debates that get personal. Move on folks. Learn from observing politicians and their minions.