Updated: Jul 28, 2018
This post was written by me on 13th April, 2014 prefacing the highly anticipated General Elections that catapulted Narendra Modi and the BJP to glory.
Never before has an event captured the hearts and minds of a billion people alike, dwarfing even Bollywood flicks and cricket matches. In a Nation where everyone from tea-sellers to industrialists has an opinion for the General Elections-2014, how can the cynical, wary me refrain from indulging?
Let's begin by talking about the average Indian vote - A docile, unsuspecting puppet in the hands of his political master. A puppet dancing to the tunes of caste, religion and community on being tugged by the strings of muscle and money.
He is never going to ask why traditional parties continue to give tickets to tainted candidates charged of heinous crimes or why his candidate's wealth multiplied by a factor of 10 during his last tenure (whilst he remains in perpetual poverty) .He never questions the funding of newspaper advertisements, blaring political commercials on radio or the ownership of seemingly-paid media houses. The foolish voter is only concerned about freebies and quotas, daaru and biryani.
For me all the political parties in the UPA as well as the NDA are largely the same, because of the following reasons:
None of the traditional parties shy away from giving tickets to goons: kidnappers, rapists, and murderers - you just name it. Is it really so difficult to find a 'clean' candidate? How can we expect law-breakers to be law-makers? I don't intend to say all politicians in these parties are corrupt. Manohar Parikar, for example, is a wonderful BJP politician (he literally represents a 'lotus' blooming amidst muddy water). On the other hand, you have the newbie AAP which has fielded proficient aspirants which include lawyers, doctors, activists and teachers. AAP is the only party to actually withdraw candidates when criminal cases against them were exposed.
The voters fail to see how dynasty politics is crippling our Nation. Some political families assume that power over certain constituencies is their birth right. Shockingly, uncles, nephews, sons, housewives all manage to get elected. Once in a blue moon, they do visit their constituency (which is just when elections are round the corner) and are garlanded and showered with rose petals.
I am always puzzled by the fact why politicians keep switching from one party to another. I mean cant you people decide what you stand for? Do your core ideologies keep changing so often? When ousted from one party they are welcomed by the other. They abuse the opposition, only to go back on their words when they themselves become a part of the opposing party. Hilarious as it may sound, the incident simply shows how the foolish common man fails to see through these dirty tricks. Just as a person is known by the company he keeps, a political party is known by the allies it makes. Be it the BJP or Congress - both these parties will try to touch the magic figure of majority in the Parliament by hook or crook, unabashedly making allies with regional parties, without checking whether their dogma conforms with their own. Shiv Sena is a key ally of the BJP, while SP supports Congress. Do I need to say more?
The political parties do not account for their entire campaign expenses. According to an estimate, political parties spend roughly 50,000 crores of black money in one round of General/State elections. (To give you an idea, this money is the combined expenditure of MNREGA and Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyaan schemes). Oh, by the way, candidates are not allowed to spend more than 70 lakhs on polls, as per the Election Commission. Will the traditional parties please care to account for the choppers, and SUV's they campaign in? Or the full page newspaper advertisements in which they all smile brazenly? Or the gimmicky 3-D rallies? In stark contrast, AAP does have a transparent and clear funding system. I should also add that AAP has a beautiful online donation system wherein you can ensure your money goes only to the contestant from your locality.
India, sadly, is not a secular State. The so-called secular parties are, ironically, communal in disguise. No, I am not talking about BJP here. I admire them for the fact they are proud of their religious identity and are open about it. I loathe the parties which follow a policy of minority (the Muslims, the Jats and the likes) appeasement, under the pretext of secularism. As a result, these minorities vote en masse to the lucrative party. The media too unwittingly seems to encourage such practices and accentuate the communal tension.
No political discussion is complete now days, without a mention of Narendra Modi. Such is the hype (or Modi-wave), that his mere mention makes his (blind?) followers break into a feverous chant of NaMo-NaMo. He is the messiah of the masses, who will supposedly 'save our country'. To me, Modi is an able administrator and a charming orator. He has a strong, assertive presence and a clear vision. He runs his government as efficiently as a corporation, as evident in his Gujarat CM tenure. He certainly has the mettle to beef up our security (no pun intended) or revive our fallen economy.
He, however, is highly over-rated. Several anomalies have been exposed in his claims. Gujarat is good, but only as good as, say, Kerala or Maharashtra. Kudos to his PR team for deceiving people into blindly following him. He has hijacked the political scene for the BJP and now appears to be larger than the party itself. People talk of Modi, not their local BJP contestant. Remember, Modi will be too busy discussing Indo-China economic ties, so he might not make it to your locality and ensure your sewers are cleaned.
The truth is, at the core, all political parties are the same in essence- marred by malpractices and jeopardised by vices. All of them, except one.
The Kejriwal led AAP is perhaps the only principled party in the country. A party that dares to go beyond the convention ,by bringing in transparency in money-raising and by giving tickets to common, simple, yet adept individuals in place of goons and family members. It never seeks votes on the basis of caste or religion. It valiantly braves crony capitalism and paid news, while attacking the Ambanis, Adanis and the Vadras. Like a breath of fresh air, it brings in new proposals- like the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Yes, they made mistakes. Their resignation at Delhi is questionable. So is their midnight raid at Khirki extension. I do disapprove their Dharna against the police, while in power. They should be a bit restraint in making allegations and painting everyone with the same hue. They are yet young and inexperienced. Their policies in matters such as National security and foreign ties are blurry. But these are errors in tactics, not error in ethics.
Governance is not rocket science. When several half-literate people have been making laws for so many years, lawyer/engineer-turned politicians can do so too.
I do not expect AAP to make a huge impact at the centre this time. But I certainly do wish that they win the seats at Amethi and Varanasi at least (Let Modi be content with the seat at Baroda).This will send out a strong message, shaking the very foundations of politics- That the common man is not as foolish as he looks.
Let the AAP get a few seats, and see how traditional parties relent under pressure and adopt a cleaner image trying to emulate the high standards set by this novice.
I, personally, just hope it's not a Modi wave, but an AAP tsunami that sweeps over our Nation.
When the BCCI selectors meet to choose the team for a tour, they choose 15 deserving players in form, and NOT players from their caste, religion or family (Rohan Gavaskar didn't last long in the team). Their focus is to select able players and not just one captain.
Similarly when you are asked to play selector, make an informed choice. Vote for the deserving candidate from your constituency, be it from any political party (or even an independent one).
Tabhi toh banegi agli baar, aapki sarkar. (Just the literal meaning intended: p)
This article was long time due but I had been procrastinating. I have tried real hard not to make personal attacks, just because they would require cumbersome typing. (Although it would have made the article more sensational and muckier!). I have taken cues from several great posts around the net, some of which I am sharing below.
1) Criminals in Politics:
2) Dynasty politics:
3) Party hopping:
4) Money in elections:
5) Pseudo secularism: