Saturday, March 14, 2009

Election fever!!

Its election time once again. Although in India, thanks to the various political shenanigans and sheer number of states, we are always in election mode. In the last five years some state or other has always seen some election or other at some level of our political system. But this is the big one; the Lok Sabha elections. That time when the world’s largest democracy gets its act together to put on a show for the rest of the world. The numbers involved in India’s tryst with destiny are truly mind boggling and the Election Commission must be congratulated for putting it all together in a relatively smooth and incident free manner especially when one considers the logistics. A recent report suggested that these elections will be even more expensive than the US presidential elections! But then the bulk of the cost there involved 3 individuals unlike in our electoral circus.

But cost and size aren’t the only comparisons that arise with the US elections. Having followed Barack Obama’s route to the White House closely its extremely disappointing to note that we don’t have a single politician of a similar calibre on our candidate lists. We don’t have anyone who can inspire and who talks about a message of change. But that has to do partly with our system of Government. Having decided to follow in British footsteps we have a Parliamentary system where the Party governs not the People’s representative. Whether or not India is better served by a Presidential style of Government is a whole other debate. But for now we’ll just see whats on the menu this time around for the voter.  

The Congress party seeks to head the UPA back to power based on the track record of the Government. The UPA itself was cobbled together under the pretence of keeping “communal” forces out and they sought to govern on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme. Now if the blueprint for your Government has the word Minimum in it, I’m not sure there’ll be all that much to crow about. The one thing that Manmohan Singh’s government did achieve was the nuclear deal with the US but the Congress isn't saying whether Madam Sonia will let him return as PM.

The BJP now leading a constantly depleting NDA will be hoping to continue the momentum of several state level victories to the Lok Sabha. In L K Advani they have an able but aging leader now trying to reinvent himself as a moderate. But the problem with the BJP is that they just don’t get it. Hindutva does not resonate with the voters anymore and they should simply focus on the issues of the day.

The last few days has witnessed the rebirth of that pitiable entity called the Third Front. This is an idea that has been doing the rounds since the 90s and its member list includes every single party that has been aligned with either the Congress or the BJP. This time around what is definite is that the Leftist parties will not have the clout they had in the last Lok Sabha. So what remains to be seen is how the others will fare and how much they will eat into the vote bases of the leading 2 combinations.

So as usual its not an altogether exciting fare. The Congress has ruled India for close to 50yrs and has nothing much really to show for that kind of faith. The BJP were voted in as the party with a difference and have shown themselves to be just as inept. The Third Front doesn’t even deserve to figure in these elections as they are the most opportunistic scumbags of the lot. So whats left? The Election Commission recently made it clear that the voter can chose to vote “none of the above” and have it recorded. All things considered that may just be our best bet. Cast a vote for a better political culture and a better class of leaders.

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