Due to the series of blunders and sins committed by pseudo-secular Congress leaders in the recent past, BJP has aggressively demonstrated itself as a party, which can provide a stable government and has expanded its political base. BJP has in the past few elections in different states defeated most of the major parties, though not completely annihilated them. Except in Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Mizoram, Congress is not ruling in any major State. The regional parties like BJD and TMC are also shaky, since BJP is growing to be very strong in these states. The Communist Party in Kerala is also finding it difficult to curb the spread of BJP. As of now, BJP is belligerent and has attained pan Indian status, which Congress once was.
Poll rhetoric during elections is normal in India but during the last elections,the levels were often personal and below the belt, leaving the rest of the country aghast, disappointed and wondering where the political discourse was heading.
In a democracy like India, politics is supposed to represent the voice of the people, wherein political leaders are expected to fairly represent the expectation of the voters that elect them. But then this is an idealist perception,the reality is very different. Politics is now more of a business, often a family business – the children of a politician inherit the seat – the right to be a politician – and this small group of people control the ‘affairs’ of politics in an oligarchy, for selfish gains – monetary or otherwise.
Politicians use archaic arguments and igniting communal passions to polarize the electorate and garner as many votes as possible. The leaders of India’s political parties are inaccessible and remote. One gets to see them only before the elections when they all appear like Aladdin’s jinn to ask for support and make all sorts of false promises – that is when they distribute blankets, food and throw money in all directions.
In the light of such crushing poverty, hunger and widespread deprivation of basic amenities that should ideally be accessible to every citizen in a modern democratic country, voters have increasingly focused on the negative aspects of the neo-liberalist project.
A plethora of scams, widespread rent-seeking, the loss of government revenue as a result of favors made to corporations, as well as stagnant expenditures on social sector programs in real terms (i.e. after accounting for inflation) have all forced the electorate to reconsider which political parties they vote for. Viewed in this way, the regional parties’ electoral victories are less a positive endorsement of their positions than a negative vote against the bigger, long-standing political parties.
The politicians bring out not only inter party bad mouthing but also intra – party, they call names to each other, the word ‘dog’ being used to bring out the analogy. All parties face similar situation with little to no action taken to govern these irresponsible politicians. A large part of the problem can be traced to the fact that most of the politicians are either semi – educated or minimally educated,that too having suspect degrees, which are more a formality than possess any educational value. There is a clear demarcation between the better, well-educated politicians and those with poor or no education – with a criminal background – and this gap is often seen in their behavior, in their political exchange – both in their party and public life. The danger of free and fair politics in India emanates from the root cause of the problem and that is the involvement of criminals in active politics.
It is very important and imperative that only and only educated politicians are elected to hold the office and the criminals and uneducated ones are kept away from this. A survey of the candidates in the Bihar elections clearly shows that out of a total of 3450 candidates contesting the elections, 1038 that is 38%,had criminal cases pending against them – 796 i.e. 23% were involved and cases of murder, attempt to murder, crimes against women – molestation and rape, kidnapping and creating communal disharmony not to forget their involvement in booth capturing against them. They all find it very difficult to substantiate themselves on their own corruption scandals. In India, democracy does not stand a chance to be fair and free and it is so unfair and difficult for other educated and serious politicians who have entered politics, to make any positive difference to the lives of people and in the country.
Although State politics are largely governed by caste and community equations and the political campaigns are centered around state-level issues, Modi – given his charismatic appeal – has been a propelling figure in BJP campaigns until now. He is undoubtedly the most popular mass leader India has had in its recent history. For Gandhi to try to re-energise the party with negligible support from its rank and file – and with patronage and corruption entrenched in regional units – it will be a herculean task for the grand-old party to rise beyond expectations. His recent speeches remind one of the Congress party in the 1960s and 1970s – welfare oriented, uncompromisingly secular-nationalist and sternly pro-poor.But it will still be interesting to watch what happens within Congress and what strategies it will adopt to oppose the Modi government get its position back.
All this brings us to one conclusion and that is that there is an urgent need for all parties to discuss and debate establishing a minimum standard of protocol in public life that all parties must ensure and follow, in and outside the Parliament. It is imperative that each party has its own checks and balance, ensuring that its leaders and party cadres uphold a minimum standard of protocol in public life. There also must be no place for violence in any form, is that too much too expect?
The future bodes well for India. The ordinary man has started to reject the economic liberalization that is not for benefit. Furthermore, in an increasing number of States, the archaic arguments to garner votes are being rejected out of hand. At the end of the day, the result is the same: voters are increasingly siding with whomever they feel will address their needs and concerns. India no longer worships its leaders; nobody is a demigod any more. Or, more accurately, politicians are less so, less than they ever have been. The next Lok Sabha elections shall be the coming of age of the subalterns in the Indian polity.
Ms. Rhea Sudhiir Gill – A BBA LLB graduate from India, Rhea Sudhiir Gill has a flair for writing. She has a number of publications in different fields to her name. She is a people’s person who not only excels in academics but also actively leads in extra curricular activities.
Mr. Avineet Singh Chawla – Avineet Singh Chawla a BA LLB graduate from Punjabi University, Patiala. He is a traveller at heart with a dream to pursue his further education from a renowned university abroad wherein he can learn about the cultures of the other countries and grow as a global citizen.