By Santosh Bhartiya
Election in Karnataka is over. Like all recent elections issues related to ordinary people were nowhere to be found, neither in the speeches by the BJP leaders nor in those of the Congress leaders. Elections in India are a never-ending process. It’s like one story ends and another begins. After Karnataka, three other states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, brace for fresh elections. There too prime minister will shoulder the responsibility of his party’s electioneering, whereas from the Congress presidents Rahul Gandhi along with state presidents will shoulder his party’s major responsibility.
In Rajasthan BJP Legislative party is going through internal dissensions. Voices to remove Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the time have become louder and louder, but they have so far been remained unheard by “Delhi”. On the other hand, Congress is optimistic about winning two Lok Sabha seats in the recently held by-elections in the state and is under false impression that the people have supported them. The Congress’s win in the state is in line with general political mind-set of the prevalent in the country for the past few years: the people who disagree with the Prime Minister and think that he has not delivered on the promises he had made are, in absence of, an alternative voted or are still voting for the Congress. Nonetheless, the Congress did not take much time to give credit for these wins to Rahul Gandhi. In the forthcoming assembly elections, people unhappy with the BJP and Vasundhara Raje’s government may come out to vote against the BJP and the people troubled by the insensitivity of the administration and bad governance may come forward to vote against the government. Such people may also join opposition rallies and vote for them. In that case, the Congress might feel that it is due to their increasing popularity among the people that they got their votes. Well, congratulations to their understanding.
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed very strong farmers’ movements. It also comes to the fore that farmers have become organized at the district level. They have stood their ground at least on the issues of their basic demand: to get the one and a half times profit on the cost of their crops as promised by Prime Minister Modi during the election campaign. To that effect the farmers have agitated, faced bullets and batons, and endured imprisonment. In Madhya Pradesh, such people were declared traitors and an ordinance to this effect was promulgated by the government so as to rein in the agitating farmers and putting them jails for several months without getting bail. The question is whether the wrath of farmers in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh will prove detrimental to the BJP in elections?
The BJP appears to be unperturbed by the agitating farmers, which might be because of the fact that when elections draw nearer the farmers no longer remain farmers; they dissolved into different castes and groups. In both of these states, the BJP will try to polarize the voters on the basis of religion, as it did in Karnataka. One such example can be seen on the social media, where a message is being spread that in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav discriminated against Hindus and favored Muslims while paying compensation. Still other example is the AMU, where a new kind of fire is being stoked that in Muslim students are mistreating Hindu students. Now students are no longer students, they are Hindu students or Muslim students. Perhaps a section of the BJP sees potential in this strategy, and that is why it is getting a lot of publicity.
The key issues related to ordinary people, such as jobs, education, health, roads etc., are similar in both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. They are deliberately kept out of public discourse because the two governments did not do much on them. The Congress also has to answer difficult questions as to when they were in power what exactly did they do to resolve these problems? Owing largely to these reasons we call these elections issueless elections, suited equally to both the BJP and the Congress.
Prime Minister Modi has mastery over introducing new issues day in and day out, and trapping the opposition in those questions. Rahul Gandhi is still a novice and he gets trapped easily in the question thrown at him by Modi. On the other hand, he fails to trap Modi on the questions that are related to the people. Perhaps Rahul Gandhi is too eager to flaunt his intellectual capabilities. Anyway, Rahul Gandhi is confident that his party will win Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh hands down. Perhaps this confidence is similar to the confidence he had shown in Gujarat, where he went into election without fine tuning the party organization. The Congress functionaries did not participate in the campaign and the party’s dream to come to power remained a dream. The same over-confidence is conspicuous in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Be that as it may, it is the Congress to decide whether their organization is in good shape or in bad shape. In terms of organizational capabilities the BJP is two steps ahead of the Congress, but that too is a matter to be deliberated by the BJP. The saddest part is that the people of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh would not get their problems resolved even after the elections. After elections both parties put voters on a such a mazy path that he cannot understand as to what these two parties would do after winning the election for them? These biggest parties have hardly left any standard based on which people could decide right from wrong.
That is why we should brace for another round of the electoral bout, or one should say another round of tamasha, which will surely exclude the issues related to the lives of ordinary people and include such promises that cannot be accomplished or that are irrelevant for the people. In these elections Pakistan will take the centre stage apart from Hindu-Muslim riots and other similar issues. Trivial questions as to why somebody was put into jail or why somebody was not released from jail will be discussed. Ordinary people will get nothing except the misery and tears. We are such a democracy where the new generation does not know the meaning of democracy. For them jugglery in the name of democracy is the real democracy; both the Congress and the BJP help them to arrive at such conclusions. Our entreaty as to why these two parties do not take up questions related to ordinary people falls on their deaf ears. Indeed, it is a futile exercise to expect that there will be an honest debate on people-related questions in any of the scheduled elections.