Elections in India have become one of the most vituperative, vindictive no holds barred competition between rival parties. The political calculations involved in deciding friends, allies or foes are mind boggling. Then there is a heady concoction of religion, caste, ethnicity and language that make the fight even more complicated for any analyst to say anything with confidence. In fact on innumerable occasion many psephologists and opinion poll surveyors have had to eat humble pie due to the Indian electorate proving them completely wrong.
I had to deal with my own dilemma prior to deciding who to vote for. All the parties that I considered had some factors going for them and many factors going against them. It became extremely tough to conclude who to vote for.
Indian National Congress: I would certainly like to believe that the India that I stay in now, has a large percentage of population that believes in earning a livelihood, credibility and respect through merit. Anyone appearing to be unduely taking advantage due to their birth is strongly detested. This India, I think, is disillusioned with the Congress party’s enchantment with the Gandhi family. This time, certainly more than ever, the ship has decided to go down with the captain! The blatant arrogance with which the previous UPA2 Government went about with brazen acts of corruption and indifference has definitely not gone down well with anyone. Even the poorest of the poor who have been beneficiaries of some of the social schemes introduced by Congress, have shown their disenchantment with this party. A political party cannot drive the agenda of be a single family. This is outrageous and the party deserves to be in wilderness till the family and the party gets decoupled in some decisive way. Each generation of the family has been known to commit one major mistake that leaves some indelible mark in history. So I would definitely not vote for such a party.
Aam Aadmi Party: When the party was freshly formed in Dec 2012, I wrote about the chaotic nature of the party and how it appears to be a Hindi Belt party with socialism written all over it. Of course they pulled up a tremendous performance in the Delhi assembly elections surprising many; however a series of mistakes after coming to power has left me disenchanted with the party. There were lofty ideals but a bunch of disillusioned men/women whose only claim to idealism was the Aam Aadmi cap. The party also heavily depended upon one man, the man who the party needed so desperately to drive the Lok Sabha campaign that he had to beat a hasty retreat from the post of Delhi State’s chief minister. What the hurry was I couldn’t understand, what I did understand is that I can’t vote them just as yet. I would like to see them work in the political sphere, gain knowledge, wisdom and organize their country wide cadre. Then I might want to re-look at their status by 2019 to decide if they get my vote or not. Though, I would also like to maintain that this party would continue to exert influence both in its success or failure. This is because, they would ensure other parties start becoming more transparent, focus on reducing criminalization and punish the corrupt without which, the big parties have started to realize that, even a new comer can beat them black and blue.
Bharatiya Janata Party: BJP and I have had a love hate relationship for a very long time. The history and origin of the party leave many questions unanswered. BJP is the result of a successful political experiment ran by members of Jan Sangh, in re-igniting the Hindu fervor through indication that the interests of the majority was being hampered due to appeasement of a handful few. However this claim of appeasement entirely falls flat when one sees the per capita income of the minorities compared to other communities or views the % share in the country’s GDP. A committee report submitted post a serious study of a minority community showed how they have fallen back far behind many of the other communities in India and appeasements, if any, has definitely not helped. The political experiment also led to communal tensions in the past though the party did go strength to strength and it had its first full term government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee from 1999 to 2004. The current PM nominee from the party has made it a habit to let out the most vituperative of speeches bringing the politics in the country to a new low. His claim of bringing an accelerated growth in Gujarat is as false as any there could be. The state has grown faster than China under the last 5 Chief Ministers. Also, 2002 riots would definitely not die from people’s memory anytime soon and not to forget that NDA government under Vajpayee lost their elections 2004 despite a decent performance and against all prediction with 2002 riots playing a definite role. Also BJP has many arms and legs that though not directly linked with the party, carry out an agenda that is very regressive in its thought process and dangerous for the social fabric of the country. How could I vote for such a party who are so obsessed with one person?
Despite the above factors, I was fairly certain that I am not pressing the NOTA and definitely wanted to make my vote count. Faced with the dilemma I list out above, I went through the process of elimination. I eliminated INC and will keep them eliminated till they lose the Gandhi family, soon. I eliminated AAP thinking can’t entrust the responsibility of running the country in the hand of novices who aren’t still sure what they stand for. The left the BJP, but given the apprehension I had with this party and that Modi was no Vajpayee, I had to convince myself. True Modi has told many lies in his campaign, yet that he ensured the economy in Gujarat continues to do well under him was commendable, apart from industries his work in improving output in Agriculture in Gujarat through irrigation schemes and regular supply of electricity was commendable. Some of the questions that he asked during campaigns were very pertinent, including the Article 370 question in Kashmir. Also, when we could work with a remote control government, like what the UPA2 turned out to be, how bad could he get? I also had a belief that the changing scenario in the country and the push for growth would put its own pressure on political parties to modify their agenda and get rid of any archaic and regressive ideas as that would make them irrelevant. So, fear would not dictate me in keeping someone away from getting a chance. Also I am sure if they don’t deliver and do falter, then in another 5 years, with more matured and politically aware electorate they would be defeated by someone who understands the needs of the times better. All in all competition is good, and this augurs well for Indian democracy. I voted for BJP!