Election Campaigns In India – Pies In the Sky

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Come elections and the Indian political system wears a festive look because of not just a few hundreds of contestants are seeking their political fortunes, but the entire exercise does seem to entertain and keep the electoral masses amused. Leading parties bathe their cadres in alcohol to keep the political momentum and the followers in good ‘spirits’.

The generous promises, political parties commit to the citizens, leave a handful of intelligentsia and responsible citizens to wonder as to how these promises can be fulfilled; and whether practically it is possible. However, there lies the knack. It is not the educated and the farsighted who decide the fate of Indian leadership, but the arithmetic of caste, race and creed that elevates the contestants to coveted seat of power.

Inebriated followers exhibit the show of strength in gargantuan party gatherings where they would have recreation and amusements. Party high commands bear the expenses, which otherwise would make a dent in the pockets of their prospective vote banks. This also reflects the ideology and the discipline of the party that has probably kept the intellectuals guessing over the state of political affairs. Just a year to go; and India will be ready for a mammoth election exercise.

The exercise has lost its importance and the event seems to be on a par with any other routine affair. Just to keep the electorate satisfied, parties vie with each other to announce schemes and freebies according to their whims without pondering over the serious and long-term consequences and the welfare of the nation.

The question is how long the parties are going to provide such freebies to keep the people addicted to this ‘freebie syndrome’, which is more dangerous than a narcotic addiction. A survey revealed that there are 5.3 million eligible families for these sops and one can imagine the expenditure that would involve in fulfilling the promises by these so-called parties committed to social justice.

The ultimate question is the mustering of funds and wherefrom they would manage the manna to keep up these promises. Who is going to bear the brunt? The answer is simple. The so-called rulers saddle honest taxpayers, who toil and generate income by their hard work with the burden of paying for the freebies. It is a simple theory of robbing Peter and paying Paul.

The productivity of the nation suffers and the very objective of poverty alleviation becomes a mockery. Exponential increase of employment opportunities and a government conducive to the expansion of small entrepreneurs is the only solution for poverty eradication.

Motivation to work and earn should be the mantra to enhance the standards of living of the people. The announcement of freebies may be a time tested formula for the parties to gain faster access to the assembly, but Human Development Index – the actual figure that reveals the living quality of the people would unduly suffer due to myopic policies of the parties.

Besides the issue of concessions and sops to gullible public, candidates have criminal cases to their political portfolio. Thanks to the statistics of candidates in a previous election scenario of West Bengal in India, where 1 out of 5 candidates had criminal cases against them. The sorry state of affairs in Indian politics is accumulating and needs a refreshing change.

One party that seemed to make a difference in the assembly elections in an Indian state a few years ago was the ‘Lok Paritran’ party floated by three IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) students, who did not throw any promises that would remain unfulfilled, but they had announced that they would strive for a corrupt free and a technological governance. However, things were as usual; they were not elected because they were not ready to give anything free.

The conflation of several parties must, in fact deliver a faster and effective implementation of welfare schemes, but it is a pity that the parties do not deliver results at a faster pace as expected. The raison d’etre – parties do not align for ideologies, but for seat arrangements, which leads to conflict of agendas. There will be no lull in reforms if parties with same ideologies joined hands for a better delivery of goods.

If the election scene is to gain its due importance, and ruling parties ensured efficient and stable governance, more and more educated people should exercise their franchise. The voting pattern may necessitate procedures such as ‘Online Voting’ and the responsible body should play a dual role of a watchdog and an ombudsman to confirm proper online voting procedures.

This may even motivate the busiest executive to cast his vote in his cozy confines of his home or while flying to Seychelles for a holiday – through his laptop or a palmtop. It is high time parties understand that hyped promises are not the only way to reach the fortress of power and the sanctity of a democratic society be maintained not just by sops, but by doing the necessary ground work to help people help themselves.