Electoral Compulsions: India: Past and Present
FORMER CHIEF ELECTION Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy had said that the elections to the Lok Sabha henceforth will be marked by money power, violence and hatred’.
He was quoted in the media as saying that “every conceivable complication will take place because of the way the political parties are fighting.” This, he said, makes implementation of the model code of conduct a big challenge to the Election Commission. A friend sent me a message (in Kannada) which says: Price of a buffalo – Rs,80K, Bull – Rs 5K, Goat – Rs,10K, Dog of a good breed – Rs 5K to 6K and Pig – Rs. 3K to 5K (K =1000). The price of a man? He sells himself (his vote) is only Rs.500 to 1K, the message adds.
Earlier there was a story about a politician who offered Rs.500 for a vote to a man who said he would, instead, have a donkey. The politician went searching for a donkey and found that the minimum price demanded was Rs.2000. So he went back to the voter and said he could not get a donkey cheap; instead, he offered to pay Rs.1000 for the vote. The voter asked, “So, I cost less than a donkey?” .
Yes, the donkeys who vote for other donkeys for money, under threats of musclemen or because the candidate belongs to his/her caste or religion definitely are very cheap, We get donkeys or puppies to rule us. And even then there is donkey trading which the media calls “horse” trading and anyone who buys the largest number of donkeys becomes the ruler.
In a “progressive” state of India, the Chief Ministership went to the party which secured the LEAST number of seats and the party which secured the highest number (though a little short of a majority) sat in the Opposition. India, it must be admitted proudly, has a democracy – unlike most of the newly independent and most Muslim countries.
But even after nearly 74 years of independence we have not evolved a healthy political culture in which voting is done on programmes and policies, NOT caste or religion, money, muscle power and vote-bank politics of sheepish voting to whoever the caste chief asks you to vote. And the party which ruled the longest, the Indian National Congress, has to bear a large portion of the blame for this culture.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which once boasted of being a party with a difference, a party of principles, seems to have fallen in line with the dynasty-ruled Congress and seems to value electoral victories more than principles.
The party whose leader, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee once showed a bipartisan attitude and described his rival, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as ‘Durga’ for the courage shown in liberating Bangladesh, is now accused of taking credit for action against Pakistan for terrorism and even of ‘faking’ the Pulwama terrorist attack and killing 44 Jawans just for electoral gains. Bipartisanism loses to electoral compulsions. Do we deserve only to be ruled by a dynasty or its puppy?
The real democracy is of Adi Shankara who wanted consensus through convincing those who had a different view. One had to accept the truth as there can be only one and it can be reached only through discussion or debate and the winner is decided on principle – even if the judge is the wife of his rival, Mandan Mishra. She was learned and decided only on merit.Instead of rule by consensus by people of wisdom we borrowed the Western system where 51 idiots are right and 49 wise persons are wrong just because the former have more numbers.