The great Indian elections

Unlike many post-colonial nations, which have descended to dictatorships or sham democracies, India has wedded to a reasonably stable democracy unhindered throughout its post-independence stint. However, the success of very essence of democracy in India were largely held off, especially if benchmarked against the best examples of it, because of certain challenges caused by the some basic deficiency in the country’s social and political dynamics. India’s political outfits have time and again exploited the short memories of poor and illiterate (or at best the semi educated) masses that forms the basis of the country’s electoral pattern.

Therefore, the inefficiency and status quo of the country’s/state’s incumbent governments are ratified by the voters on the merit of just few months of developmental work before the election. It is an enigma why the voters are such crassly swayed by the otherwise pillaging politicians and cannot see the devil in their stealth! So, projects worth hundreds of crores are announced and brandished before election to tilt the electoral balance in favor of the ruling parties. And such is India’s electorates’ psychographics that in many instances it works too! The best example of it has been in West Bengal, where for 34 years of Left Front rule there were no anti-incumbency factors at all despite their shoddy and slapdash work during the tenure. They derived latitudes by tall talks and announcing projects before elections that were either never implemented or remained incomplete once the election was over. The flaunting of projects and schemes just before election has become a norm throughout the nation in the hope of shaving down opposition’s margins. Before the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) election this year projects worth Rs. 519 crores were announced along with major reforms in the transport sector worth hundreds of crores.

To beat these faltering, the Election Commission of India in its model ‘Code of Conduct’ has specified strict Do’s and Don’ts for the political parties: it has banned announcement of new schemes, projects, financial grants and laying foundation stones that are rooted in the sole effort to influence the voters. Yet, the parties escape these rules by announcing schemes just before they come into effect, as has been the case in West Bengal, Gujarat and other places. One of the reasons why the incumbent parties can create firewall by these announcements even though the voters know it to be a bogus is because they hardly have any other options!

The cliché is followed by each and every party, which provides no alternatives for the voters that can crystalize into a realistic change in governance. And most importantly, the election in India in most instances are not fought on developmental issues at all – they are fought on the flimsy lines of caste, creed, religion…et al. The illiterate or semi-literate electoral base cannot believe any paradigm change in their lives is possible at all – so their voting decision is not based on positive signals of developmental issues, but on the regressive demographic matters.

Another interesting signal that helps decipher a phenomenon before election is the unearthing increasing cases of scams and financial embezzlement! That’s because it is most accurately foretold that the politicians would resort to corrupt practices when implementing welfare schemes for their voters.