In the din of elections democracy takes a beating

NOteBy Santosh Bhartiya
Elections are over, but the acrimonious memories left behind in its wake will continue to haunt us for long time. Previously, elections in India were considered to be the most sacred symbol of the democratic process, in which one side was voted to be in power for 5 years and one side to raise people’s voice in case government’s failings. This most sacred symbol of democracy, in due course, reduced to a mere means of achieving power by hook or by crook.
During campaign in earlier elections, people used to oppose each other the whole day, but in the evening they sat together and laughed off the day’s activities. They eat, drank and laughed together and enjoy each other’s company. But, since past 20 to 25 years a new trend has emerged – an altercation during polling often culminates into murder. Ironically, the kith and kin of the deceased left alone to fend for themselves nobody shows concern about them – not even those for whom he was killed or those who were mentally disturbed after the murder.
Be it in Punjab, in Uttarakhand or in Uttar Pradesh, real issues were absent from election campaign. Religion and caste of course took the centre stage; permutation and combination to grab power were discussed; it was also explained as to how crooked, dishonest, or looter ones opponent was! But no party or combination pronounced what would they do if they come to power? Perhaps they did not intent to enunciate their program, nor did the people wish them to do so. The voter is so much disappointed with the electoral process that he does not even ask what has happened to the promises the candidate he is voting for had made five years ago. He does not even wish to know how much property his candidate has accumulated in 5 years and through what means – black or white? It is also worthless for him to see if a candidate represented his constituency in the past has ever raised any question concerning his area or participated in any debate related to the state or the country, in the Assembly.
So it may be said that the people get a representative that they deserve. Now they stopped raising questions, passing sarcasm on the leaders and discussing their leaders’ performance. On the other hand, leaders considered this situation to be profitable for themselves, personally as well as for the party. Our democracy, passing through an unknown crossroad, moved towards the path of autocracy.
Instead of party-centric, the elections now-a-days have become personality-oriented; means parties carry less credence as compare to personalities. It hardly matters to electorates that the person he is voting for connected with crime, gives protection to the criminals or runs illegal businesses. However, everyone knows that the person they are choosing is how beneficial for the state or the district?
This election has created a big chasm between people’s hearts. The two BJP leaders and ministers, Mukhar Abbar Naqvi and Uma Bharti, bemoaned denial of tickets to Muslims, saying it would better had Muslims been given tickets as well. On the other hand, this feeling amongst Muslims has taken root that however inclination Muslims would show towards the BJP and however sincerely their leaders try to connect with Amit Shah or Prime Minister Modi, the BJP would continue to consider them not only a second-class citizen but a third-class citizen; not to speak of their stake in power, which of course is considered irrelevant. Although many Muslim youths closely seen during campaign with Akhilesh Yadav, but he too did not present any specific plan vis-à-vis Muslims in this election.
Moreover, this election widens the rift between Yadav and the most backward castes in the state. The upper castes went completely with the BJP, their dialogue became very weak with Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, while on the other side a considerable numbers of Yadavs went with the BJP, but the vast majority remained intact with Akhilesh Yadav. Yadavs stand clear from Mayawati 100 percent. The Dalits appears weaker because many sections of Dalits joined ranks with the BJP.
In all acrimonies and contradictions, it has not been clear as yet whether the gulf created in Uttar Pradesh amongst different section is alright for the health of democracy. I believe the politicians may consider this distance appropriate for their goals, but this will keep affecting common people and democracy will keep dancing between power and government on the tune of this divide. It is a matter of grave concern for those who value democracy and consider democracy as the best form of governance. But the fact remains that people from the media as well are leaving no stone unturned to crush democracy. Perhaps media persons too have shunned democratic values. But when the indifference (towards democracy) of entire society is in vogue, why blame only media? Therefore, the question bobs up in my mind as to where are the reformists, where are the leaders like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, and where are the Sadhus-Mahatmas and the Maulanas who spread message of brotherhood and love through television. And finally the big question: If we have to look for democracy or democratic process in this conundrum, then where should we look at all?

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