The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly… of Loksabha Elections 2014

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It is celebration time in BJP camp. They have not only managed a phenomenal victory, beyond the estimates or apprehensions of people, they are now the biggest political party of India.

While the people who voted for BJP or its allies are jubilant, the rest sixty some percent are aghast at the turn of events. Many feel pissed at the state of our democracy where a party gets to govern the country with only 31% vote share. I find that line of thought somewhat irrational since we have always had a fractured polity right from the first election of free India. No party has ever managed to secure more than 50% votes in India. I guess we will have to live with this until we have a two-party system; which of course means forever.

Whatever the results, it sure was an eventful and energetic election. If we look back – for the sake of intellectual curiosity and some possible learning – we find a lot of things that one can categorize into the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good
o After thirty years, one party has got a clear majority, meaning India would have a stable government for next five years.
o The entire country witnessed higher voting percentage, which in itself is a great trend.
o Election Commission has done a tremendous job at holding clean and impartial elections. It spared none when disciplinary lines were broken.
o A conditional good – each failure is an opportunity to learn. I am sure if they care enough to pause and think, most political parties can find a lot to learn. I sincerely hope someday they will consider giving up religion and caste based politics.

The Bad
o It was disheartening to see the biggest political party (before the results), Indian National Congress, believes more in dynasty-based politics rather than merit based democracy. In this old and experienced party, they could not find a more able PM-candidate than an inexperienced young prince who is yet to prove his mettle.
o The religion and caste based politics is very much alive in India.
o The inequality and lack of meritocracy in the election results is disturbing. Among the winners:
– only 11% are women
– 63% are over the age of 50 years
– 23% are only moderately educated, with 12th pass and below

The Ugly
o Some of the hate speeches and derogatory statements were extremely embarrassing – Togadia, Ramdev, Imraan Masood, Ramdev, Giriraj Singh and Siddaramaiah are some of the culprits, to name a few.
o Arvind Kejriwal was attacked multiple times; his primary fault was he tried to be more accessible to people. Some BJP leaders argued he was beaten for his poor performance in Delhi. They probably do not know, there are thousands (if not lakhs) in India who would love to lay their hands on Mr Modi, if he just dares to be just as accessible.
o There were several instances of AAP volunteers being thrashed by other BJP and Congress volunteers. The uglier part was that the BJP and Congress leaders did not care to condemn the attacks.
o The crime statistics of MPs have worsened:
– The percentage of MPs with criminal cases has gone up from 30% in 2009 to 34% in 2014 Loksabha elections. Up from 15% in 2009, 21% of MPs have declared serious criminal cases that include cases related to murder, attempt to murder, communal disharmony, kidnapping, crimes against women etc.
– BJP, now our ruling party, is no cleaner than the rest – 35% of their MPs face criminal charges. Out of 28 winners who have declared cases related to murder or attempt to murder, 14 are from BJP.

These crime statistics will sure make Aamir Khan a very unhappy man, just like the staff of organizations like ADR (Association of Democratic Reforms) and SNS (Satark Nagrik Sangathan) who worked for years educating masses on the importance of voting for clean candidates. From now on, perhaps EC should make all voters go through a short episode of Satyamev Jayate right before they vote.

What lies ahead?
While the emphatic victory of BJP has caused ecstasy among many, many others are mum, and some are gripped in fear. They fear BJP’s unprecedented success might empower and embolden those fanatic elements (the likes of RSS, VHP, BD) who may feel they own this country now, and may consider this a perfect opportunity to suppress the minorities. While their fears are not ungrounded, I would like to stress that this country still belongs to all of us equally, the one hundred and twenty crore citizens of India. I am sure Modi and BJP understand that – isn’t that why they decided to tone down their Hindutva rhetoric in this election. Besides, I doubt if Modi would commit the same mistake twice, especially when the ghosts of 2002 have haunted him enough already. Plus, I am sure, somewhere deep in his heart he is nurturing the ambition to hold the PM post for multiple terms. A mistake like 2002 could wipe out their ambitions forever.

Back to optimism… it is the perfect opportunity for Mr Modi and BJP to prove their credentials. Let me emphasize, clear majority only means a perfect opportunity, not a perfect government. The quality of governance will unfold itself over the next few years.

That being said, it is time for all, the believers and the non-believers, to wait and watch. And, watch we must, so we are not fooled again by another bunch of inefficient and self-serving politicians.

Good luck India! I hope sanity prevails!

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