Dissent is necessary in a robust democracy. It strengthens arguments and is necessary in providing a better picture of the problem at hand.
What is par-for-the-course though, are politicians subscribing to a party line, especially when contentious issues come up. Prime-time debates on television are a testament to that fact, with the name of the person being secondary when you see them on screen. What you see on TV instead, is their line-of-argument captioned meticulously on top of the box in which they appear with their party affiliation below, on certain channels.
It is therefore welcome when a politician steps into the unknown and makes their view clear on an issue, taking a stand which is different from what is laid down by a party or the usual politicking narrative.
The issue of liquor prohibition in Tamil Nadu is an issue in which almost all parties in the state except ruling AIADMK seem to agree. Their consensus would probably read âban alcoholâ but there has been a dissenting voice.
In an interview to Thanti TV on Monday, Congress national spokesperson Khushbu said that there should be a liquor policy in the state. âDonât think that there can be a total ban, they (other parties) know that too,â she said.
Adding to her argument, the former actress said that Tamil Nadu would have a liquor-ban only if there was nation-wide prohibition in place, effectively ruling out the move.
Less than a month prior to her statement, TN Congress Committee President EVKS Elangovan spoke to the same TV channel. He offered a different view. âWill bring back liquor probihition in Tamil Nadu if the Congress comes back to power again,â said the Congressman, referring to the Kamraj governmentâs ban in 1967.
The point being made is that dissent is not tolerated by most political parties and it is generally curbed. Funnily enough, the other politician comes from the same party and over the same issue.
Prohibition in Kerala was a hot topic of debate in the previous year. Political noise emerging from the state indicated that most parties were for a liquor ban. The Congress had raised its hand, and asked for it to be counted among those wanting prohibition.
Its MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, was against it. In a piece for NDTV, the Congress MP stuck to his guns, and methodically listed out how the ban would affect his home-state.
In doing so, he himself admitted to towing a line which was clearly not the partyâs. âThe ruling Congress party in Kerala is led by a moralistic Gandhian who led a campaign for the state's bars to be closed,â he wrote.
The ban had already set in Kerala by the time Tharoor wrote about it though, but Tamil Nadu is still tense after incidents of violence.
Taking Khushbuâs view into account is as necessary as listening to every-other-person harp on the same tune.