Spread in seven phases across the country between 11th of April to 19th May, General Elections 2019 is rightly touted as the festival of democracy.
But gone is the vivaciousness associated with elections which typified the decades gone by when electioneering which, as an entirely different gamut of activities, was a celebration of sorts with rival candidates trying every trick in the book, and outside it, to woo voters.
With the Election Commission gaining its voice after the relative stint of T N Seshan at the helm, the sea of changes observed after the large-scale electoral reforms introduced literally took the bite off the election campaigning thereafter.
Posters and life-size cut-outs without which no election canvassing was ever thought to be complete, is slowly receding into the realms of antiquity. The door-to-door campaigning which seeks to bring the candidates closer to the voting public is finding more favour with those in the race these days.
However, the ‘sanctions’ of the election commission notwithstanding, nothing much has changed for the political fraternity in the country as far as the elections are concerned.
To the resonating applause of an eager audience, leaders continue delivering election promises fully aware that these ‘pledges’ won’t survive a day over the polling-day schedule.
Issues continue to be used for leverage and dominate the proceedings in the run up to the elections. This once, with the accusations and counter-accusations alternating between the BJP and the Congress camps the Rafale deal promises to eclipse the earlier imbroglios – at least for the complexity that is being made of it!
Yet the feeling that it is only the elections as the process by which citizens chose their representatives to run the government democratically for a term of office that has evolved over the years, with the perceived view of the people about elections remaining much the same all through the decades.
Most of the people have always maintained that voting as a cumbersome and meaningless exercise has not changed to the extent so as to have any discernible impression that could convince them to come out in large numbers on the polling-date to partake in electing a government of their choice.
No wonder we Indians find ourselves saddled with ‘unpopular’ regimes so often! It is as if we believe in political prompting to select our governments!
The modern fad that has people cursing the dearth of good candidates contesting elections and deciding on the novelties that the NOTA option provides may well complicate matters further as it is ‘stipulated’ that a certain proportion of NOTA votes polled in any booth will necessitate a re-election there. The expenses incurred apart, the colossal wastage of time in putting the process into operation all over again is too tedious.
Nevertheless, it needs to be understood that, going by the current trends in Indian politics, the entry of new players into the field will depend on the ‘graciousness’ of the existing leaders.
Endorsing such novices, many have however had to ‘abdicate’ their seats of power in favour of their protégées. Hence the reluctance shown for having a second-line of leadership in case of eventualities that has the so-called ‘stalwarts’ continuing their ungainly existence in the country’s politics for years on a trot.
Moreover, the importance attached to election dates can be gauged by the holiday mood prevalent among people during that period. The ‘percentage turnout’ for voting that is so meticulously reported by the press and media after the polls may hardly serve any purpose other than adding to the statistical records of the Election Commission, but is definitely a true indicator of the public callousness towards the entire process of voting to elect a government.
It is however a big wonder that Indians have shown this proclivity for keeping away from voting on silly pretexts. Apparently they do not want to concern themselves with national issues.
While an indignation at being denied the basic constitutional right to vote would definitely be justified, it is just the thought of ‘giving up’ the right that some people have resorted to lately that is more disturbing.
Sometimes, though, the choice of candidates have been atrocious. Candidates with criminal antecedents and those with questionable credentials getting the nod from larger sections of the society to represent them in the hallowed portals of power has never stopped surprising one.
Nevertheless, by playing truant on Election Day, a citizen loses the moral right to criticize the government for its shortcomings. Shunning their flippant attitude towards casting their precious votes, the citizens of this great country need to attach due importance to democratically electing their government.
Yet again, as the Election Day draws near the realization that he is once again on the verge of casting his precious vote for candidates pre-determined by various political dispensations blatantly exposes the common man’s folly.
As the world’s largest electoral wonder, it is however a pity that till the very last minute, undecided on their choice of candidates, people are known to cast their votes just for the sake of exercising their adult franchise.
For that matter, except for Delhites in recent times, the rest of the country has come a cropper when it comes to springing a surprise on the established political class by electing rank outsiders to power.
However, the ‘broom miracle’ failed to reflect in good governance and Delhi is today ruing its moment of electoral ‘insanity’.
Assured of a thorough sweeping of the cobwebs of inefficiency and corruption that clouds good administration, Delhi, even after having had the common man’s government installed, finds itself insufficiently secured against these administrative limitations.
But having said that, it is indeed a paradigm of ironies that where tyrannical regimes were put down by mass uprisings bringing along with it a new dawn of hope for the people; when it comes to governments of the people, by the people and for the people, the masses themselves have been conspicuous by their reluctance to actively partake in the country’s electoral process to decide on their representatives.
Hence it is pertinent that we, the voters, attach great meaning to our role in elections. For, without free and fair elections, how can a democracy exist!
In Goa however, in comparison to the assembly polls, the elections to the two Parliament constituencies have always been very subdued affairs.
Without speaking about any one party in particular, the hesitation shown by MLAs to drum up support for their party nominees for the Lok Sabha polls speaks of controversies which sometimes harbor around alleged sabotages costing the party the seats.
It is necessary that responsible and efficient representatives are elected to the Parliament in order to have the local issues to be heard and addressed in the higher echelons of power.
(Published on 06th May 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 19)