Crystal Ball Gazing Into The 2014 General Elections

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We live in the well-connected world, wherein the 24×7 Television, Mobile Telecommunications and Internet are disseminating the truck-loads of information at faster pace among the common people. This easy availability of information to the common people is leading to silent political revolution in the country, even at the grassroots level. These technological changes have brought about mammoth changes in way these newly empowered and extremely informed common people, albeit voters have exercised their votes in recently held Delhi Assembly Elections 2013.

Indian Parliament House New DelhiThe results of Delhi Assembly election forced me to hazard a gaze into the future and see what trends may emerge for the upcoming 2014 parliamentary elections in India.

# Matter of Corruption may become a game changing poll issue

In an Indian political landscape, almost all the political parties are accused of indulging in gross corruption. Most of traditional political parties have far too many corrupt skeletons lying in their cup-boards and it won’t be easy for them to get rid of this excessive baggage of institutionalized corruption, especially when we are just couple of months away from elections.

What’s really disconcerting is the wide-spread corruption has become firmly entrenched in the present political party system; in fact it has become inseparable part of their DNA. It’s an unpalatable fact that quite a few political parties would simply wither and die out, in case they try to get themselves cured of this cancerous growth of corruption in their political organization. So, rooting out corruption from Indian political system, which is based on political patronage and back scratching isn’t really going to take place in near future.

As most of the political parties, wherein the power-brokers and root-less leaders reign supreme; they would try to keep such corrupt people far away from the lime-light, till the elections get over. But with the spectre of hung-parliament looming large over the General Elections verdict 2014, I am certain that once the elections results are out, these corrupt power-brokers would make a resounding come-back, public opinion be damned; quite unlike the recent political scenario in Delhi, wherein political parties is shying away from the power as they don’t want to be seen as same old corrupt and power-hungry party.

With this kind of developing political scenario in India, it seems that the “Corruption” shall be a compelling poll-issue for the voting public at large and interestingly, almost all the other traditional political parties are discredited on this issue. The other interesting point is that Indian voters can see the close link between the issues of “Corruption” and the uncontrolled “Price-rise” or should I say galloping “Inflation” across India. In case, the “Corruption” becomes the central theme for the upcoming general election in 2014, then the non-traditional political parties would have much more to gain and the traditional political parties would have much to lose.

# Matters of Communalism, Casteism, Regionalism, other Divisive political issues, Money and Muscle power may recede in background

Although it may sound as a cliché, it’s true that we live in a country of immense diversity. No doubt, over the years, the traditional political parties have successfully exploited these differences, our fault lines to garner votes in the name of religion, caste, region, language, et al. Also on the other hand, some political leaders have no qualms about using the money and muscle power to induce voting in their favours, moral ethics be damned.

Don’t you wonder why?

Well, we live in society that has become flexible on the matters about morality. Many of us salute and celebrate the success, conveniently forgetting about the questionable means that have led to such an astonishing result. Presently, we live in a society and an economy driven by greed, consumption, and self-interests; no doubt our own ethical compass has been compromised that we don’t want to differentiate between the Good and the Evil. At the end of day we simply want our own piece of cake, without ever thinking about scores of people who sleep an empty stomach.

Somewhere, in the last few years, all this has changed in India. Maybe, it has something to do with the highly moralistic Jan-Lokpal agitation led by Anna Hazare. It stirred and posed discomforting questions to all of us. His agitation captured the imagination of common public and it appealed to people cutting across their age, religion, caste, region, language and social standing. They all found a common enemy, “Corruption” and they forgot their differences to unite, to fight this demon.

No wonder, in 2014, the wave of this anti-corruption movement may push the Communalism, Casteism, Regionalism, other Divisive political issues, Money and Muscle power in the background.

# Our Middle Class may become much more vocal and assertive

With the advent of information-technology age, the Indian Middle Class has become much more involved in the issues that directly and directly affect them. Many a time, their anger and frustration have spilled on to the streets, to take up host of issues, be it the problems of wide-spread corruption, the women’s safety, the price-rise, etc.

The middle class is no longer willing to play the role of mute bystander. Now, they are ready to get their hands dirty to clean up the unresponsive and the uncaring political system. They are ready to challenge the might of the ruling élite with their votes. They are unwilling to listen to their apologetic responses to their concerns by the Government. Mere lip service won’t really satisfy these people. Any political party that can convert their popular anger into votes is likely to reap a golden harvest of parliamentary seats in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

# Our Lower Middle Class and the Economically Poor Class may become much more demanding

Gone are the days, when freebies and subsidies used to act like wonder for the traditional political parties; in return these traditional political parties used to get votes in bulk from them. But it seems that the times are changing. It’s changing very fast. Like their economically better off brethren, the people stuck in the lower middle class economic strata; they are also demanding better livelihood prospects, good education opportunities, improved living conditions, safety, security, lower inflation, less of corruption, etc. Their demands and aspirations are not much different.

But it seems that most of the traditional political parties do not really care to empathize with them. They do not really have concrete plans and vision to pull them away from the vicious cycle of poverty. No wonder, the until now neglected lower middle class and economically poor class have joined hands with others voting classes, to challenge the status–quo in the current political set up.

# The Political Parties may start two-way communication with the common public

In the current political system in India, we have always seen the top-down approach by the ruling elite. They fly in and come in big vehicles to the election rallies organized by their respective parties, and then standing on massive podium, they dole out their usual sermons and the “gyan” to the attending public. They never listen. They are verbose. Even their use of modern tools of communication including the social networking tools, it’s all about one-way communication. They have yet to learn the fine art of interaction, connecting and engaging with the voting public.

Do they really care about what public wants are? Not really, but the threat of losing precious votes may make them, much more responsive towards the popular public opinions. It’s time to engage.

To conclude, most of the political analysts think that the parliamentary constituencies in the Rest of India are unlike the assembly constituencies of Delhi; they are as different as chalk and cheese. Many of these political analyst believe that the what really happened in Delhi is basically an “urban” phenomena and similar kind of voters’ reactions can’t be replicated in rural and interior parts of our country.  They could be right. As we have seen that the lack of viable political alternative (s) to the traditional political parties may force the voters to either vote for the traditional political parties of the yore or opt for the NOTA (none of the above) option, as many voters have done so, in the remote rural constituencies of Central India. So, I keep my fingers crossed and would really like to see the impact of television, print and social media on the voting public across India.

It’s really up to the voting public as well as the non-traditional political parties to either make the above mentioned trends into an irreplaceable part of India’s political discourse and usher in much-needed positive change in our country or opt for status-quo patronage based political party (s) system. The ball is in the voters’ court, now. 

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Sameer Bhagat

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Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Hemen Parekh says:

    Selling Rainbows ?

    On the last day of the recently concluded BJP session in Delhi , Narendra Modi announced ,

    ” If voted to power in April 2014 elections , BJP will build 100 new SMART cities , in 5 years ”

    That is 20 new cities to be built EVERY YEAR !

    By sheer coincidence ( no doubt ) , China’s current target is also 20 cities / year

    But then China has an enviable track record of having actually built , 500 brand NEW cities since 1978

    That is approx 14 new cities per year

    Non – stop , year after year , for the last 34 years !

    Capable of accommodating 700 million citizens

    Is Narendra Modi being audacious ?

    Not at all

    Earlier , in Dec 2012 ( before Assembly elections in Gujarat ) , BJP manifesto said ,

    ” If voted to power , we will build in Gujarat , 50 Lakh houses ( of course , for the poor ) in next 5 years ”

    That is 2,739 houses per day

    Or , 10,68,210 new houses in the last 390 days , since BJP came to power !

    Cannot find these ?

    Silly !

    How can you build houses , unless you first build a brand NEW city , once every 18 days ?

    Can’t you see , how we are building city of Dholera ,in Gujarat, for the last 3 years ?

    Why don’t you go ask AAP ,

    ” Where are those brand new 6 schools that you promised to build in the last 24 days , since coming to power ( @ one school every 4 days ) ? ”

    A cynic once said ,

    ” Like Laddoos , promises are meant to be broken ! ”

    And rainbows exist in the sky – for a very brief period , before elections !

    * hemen parekh ( 23 Jan 2014 / Mumbai )

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