With every year comes new trends, be it the trend of pouting in selfies in 2015 or the trend of dog faced selfies in 2016, every year there are certain things which are blindly followed by people across countries, caste and creed in order to look “#cool”. The thing with this year is that it saw a trend which had a far wider and long lasting impact than any other. It was the trend of resignation by powerful politicians across the world. Now, apart from being judgmental, there is one more thing that we Indians are an expert at i.e., copying the western societies in every way possible. So why lag behind in this aspect – “To resign or not to resign”, that is the dilemma.
To answer this, we need to look at the reasons behind the resignations and also consider the fact that the political scenarios in those countries were different from that in India.
The first case that pops up is the case of David Cameron who resigned as the Prime Minister of UK when he lost the referendum on the famous, or rather infamous ‘Brexit’. He had hoped that the referendum would clamp down the opposition threats and neutralize the Eurosceptic current in the party. The loss virtually forced him to resign, because along the way, the referendum picked up such force and magnitude that it became a vote of confidence towards the administration.
In Italy too there was huge pressure on the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign after he lost the constitutional reform vote in referendum. The results were horrible, that too if we are being optimistic. It lead the country into a never ending downward helix of political instability. The economy and the stock markets too registered a ’meteoric’ fall. The repercussions of the resignation are still being felt by the country.
However, New Zealand presents a slightly different case. John Key, who had successfully served the country for 8 years as its Prime Minister resigned on 12 December 2016 citing family reasons. Although, he would widely be remembered as a leader who led his country through some testing times, the resignation does put some sort of a black mark on his tenure. Now resignation for personal reasons is something that India has not witnessed and some people might argue as to why that has to be so. But one must consider the fact that he prioritized his family over a nation which chose him as its leader. It was his decision to quit as he firmly felt that there was “nothing left in the tank”. But is it a justifiable reason to quit and as some might say ‘run from your responsibility’? There is no clear answer but it can be certainly said that if a leader can serve and wants to serve, there is no need for resignation.
Meanwhile, the resignation of the Lt. Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung today with 18 months left in his tenure, arose speculations around the political arena. Citing his love to return to academics, Najeeb Jung in his resignation letter to the Government of India thanked everyone for the support and love without stating any reasons to step down. The 20th Lt. Governor of Delhi was accused by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for working against the interests of Delhi Government at the behest of the centre.
Resignation is not a moral benchmark anymore. When Lal Bhadur Shastri resigned as railway minister, in 1956, taking principle position for the railway accident in Tamil Nadu, he set a moral standard in the political class. The Minister of Home Affairs, Shivraj Patil resigned after 26/11 Mumbai attacks as he took moral responsibility for the security lapse. In such scenarios, it becomes a need. But mostly, it serves as a game of political expediency. An example of such blatant use of resignation as a political tool was in 2014 when Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Delhi CM on just the 49th day of his term. He was pushed into quicksand when the government failed to introduce Lokpal Bill. Hence, resignation has clearly become an art in the political realm, in bargain of which politicians hope to gain sympathy. The act of leaders calling for resignation of political rival at the drop of a hat has further contributed to making the act of resignation a trivial one. They tend to use resignation as a tool to build pressure on the people in power.
Lastly: ‘Is resignation an answer to all the political and economic crises that our country is currently facing? Will resignation by ministers automatically assure that the next minister will be miracle?’ Certainly NO. Resignation, in a way, gives a minister an absolution or incumbent of guilt and worse, it gives him the halo of a hero. Why allow him that? Isn’t he a coward who is just running away from his responsibilities? There is one thing we know for sure, politicians and resignations do not command the same morality and integrity as they did at the time of Lal Bahadur Shastri.