Ten things I have learned from these Elections

Posted on April 27, 2009 By pramitsingh Topic: Indiaelections2009, India

So, we are giving the middle finger salute this time: The Election Commission is painting voters' middle fingers with indelible ink instead of the usual index finger. Whether this is a nod towards the quality of our politicians and regret for the absense of negative voting, one cannot tell.

1. The party of the Dalits is the party of the richest.
BSP candidates declare assets in hundreds of crores, the poorest candidate is worth 50 lakh

2. This is one of the least violent elections ever.
There is almost no violance in Bihar. Only 6 people have died, against 76 in 99 elections. So far. Thanks to those Para-Military forces. Did you know the first ever booth looting in India happened during indira Gandhi's rule?

3. This is the dullest media coverage I have ever seen.
May be it is bacause the Election Commission has banned exit polls. That is only part of the reason. Media personalities no longer have that edge and look more interested in saving their job/media empire than in reporting. That is why the media is sucking up to politicians more than looking at issues being ignored - more interested in looking for the Indian Obama than the black money politicians spend in elections. More interested in shouting each other out, than letting the common man speak.

4. Things I learned about the Family.
A. Every five years, Priyanka Gandhi wakes up from her air-conditioend sleep and spreads the word around about the family - reminds everyone of our duty towards the family.
B. The other two of the SRP (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka - term coined by Narendra Modi) trio, Sonia and Rahul keep repeating Manmohan is the man for P.M. seat, and in doing so they seem to be stoking the fire of expectancy. One day, the messiah will descend from Janpath.
C. Among the extended Gandhis, Varun Gandhi, speaks well , in a Raj Thackarey-Rabble-rousing kind of way, and has the gift of being dramatic. Rahul Gandhi is neither a good speaker nor big with emotions and his sister has to compensate for this disability by aping her grandmother's mannerisms. By the way, all the Gandhis speak in a similar, restrained,  well-trained middle-class fashion - "humen dekhne hai...."

5. Lalloo Yadav is fighting the election of his life.
But this is not the end of Vote Bank politics.

6. Throwing shoes has become the national way of showing protest.
We have graduated from throwing abuses at each other. So far, shoes and sandals have been thrown at Chidambram, Navin Jindal, Advani and now the Prime Minister - One Iraqi import we didn't need.

7. The BBC got itself a 7- bogey airconditioned train to cover the elections.
I am happy someone in the west is not doing parachite journalism but hoped the Railways ran more trains in places where the State machinery has booked up all public and private transport for election purposes.

8. There is very little an M.P. or an M.L.A. can really do for the people.
They can only spend their allocated funds on public projects and making their favorite contractors rich. You know about this when you see contestants begging for votes from a wary and angry people. On a local level, to be effective, you need cordnation between the panchayat/municipaity, the local government, local government agencies and the central government. In most of rural India, it is the District and the Central Government funds that matter during the most of the time. That is why the M.P. or M.L.A. is so irrelevant.


No wonder legislatures take out the frustration with stalling the Parliament. No one listens to these guys and in return, legislatures do not even care about the laws they are meant to be passing a careful debate. What debate?

In a dysfunctional system, even powerful legislatures such as Sonia Gandhi have trouble being of any help to their constituents. In Sonia's case, Mayawati is in her way. In constituencies that show progress, such as Sharad Pawar's Baramati, he can do little about the water problem.

9. All those "Vote" campaings were nothing but branding execrcises for businesses, NGOs and 'serious' actors.
In the first phase 62% voting took place and in the second only 55%. Vote percentage for the technologically savvy cities of Bangalore and Pune was 50% and 40% respectively.People living in air-conditioned houses should not expect miracles on hot and dusty polling booths.

10. We must find an affordable way of conducting annual/instant elections and recalls.
Till then, elections will just be an excuse for existence of this greatest democracy.


Update: two more that I have learned:

11. Delimitation of constituencies is not a good thing - it makes it harder for good candidates to come through.

12. More than one -third of our Central Ministers do not need to win in the Lok Sabha elections - they are from the Rajya Sabha.

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