Sunday, 5 December, 2021
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OPINION

Follow The People



Parmeshwar Devkota

In the Western world, the kings and Churches fought against each other for centuries to usurp state powers and maintain their supremacy.
The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to the Danbury Baptists Association in England, ‘Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or worship, that the legitimate powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions. I contemplate with sovereign reverence that the act of the whole American people..."
The conflict between Church and politics ended for good because Jefferson, for the first time, clarified that believing in God is an individual matter whereas the government solely rules the whole country as per the will of the people.
Since no questions were raised against his argument, the Pope’s influence on politics came to an end with the thinkers like John Lock and Martin Luther standing by the side of political sovereignty.
The victory of politics over religion gave the politicians the upper hand over the affairs of the state and nation building task. Prominent philosophers propounded theories on empowering the state and the citizens alike. Of various political theories, two carry significant weight. One insists that politicians should lead the masses while the second is the opposite of the first – the politicians follow the masses.
According to the first theory, leaders should lead the people with a vision, vigour and determination. The leaders show the way to their followers and convince them that ‘these things will happen’, the supporters not only wholeheartedly believe in them, but also help them to make the thing happen.
If we look into our political history, we can find such leaders who had contributed much to the nation through their visionary leadership.
As per the second theory, the leaders should follow the people’s conscience and concerns. This theory functions well in such a country where people are fully aware of their rights, duties and responsibilities. As the people with clear mission of building the nation hit the streets by following democratic values, the leaders should listen to their voices.
Today, people of this country are abiding by rules. They are honest and pay the taxes to the state. They honour democratic norms and procedures and strive to achieve minimum parameters of sustainable development.
But, sad to say, today's leaders - be it of the ruling party or the opposition ones - have neither led the people nor followed them. They have just indulged in the internal conflicts.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word 'politics' as ‘.... getting and using power in public life, and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or a society’. The definition of politics clearly shows that politicians should strive for the stability and development of a society, rising above the partisan interest. There is no room for endless bickering within the parties, which only give wrong message to the society.