Rural governance is not more of the same, right?
Election results is not just vote banks changing sides. We must see election outcome in some deeper perspective.
It is time for some soul searching and introspection. More so when we consider some fundamentals that remain unchanged in the rural environment.
A range of reforms, panchayat reforms, Integrated Child Development Services, mid-day meals, reports of the Consortium of Civil Society Organisations, Forest Rights Act etc are some milestones for any rural reforms.
Bring in a new set of new faces to this reform process.
When it comes to elections and election strategists, what is easy is the assumptions about the rural voters.
Yes, there are rural voters, vote banks in fact, which turned in favour of the Congress over all.
To say that the aaam aadmi voted for the Congress is only partially true.
We have to clear some hangups, after the many days of gap.
First, the caste-based politics. Is the caste-based voting this time didn’t play a major role in producing the results, which is the number of seats to parties, as it used to give in the past?
There is no clear answer this time too. Each state seems to have given a different set of reasons for the parties to lose and gain, as they did.
First, the BJP lost. Second, the Left lost. Third, the youth vote was not as decisive as it is made out now. So many surveys and statistics show that the youth very much voted as the older generation does. It is reported the Congress did a shae worse among young voters than the rest of the electorate! Even the choice of the younger members for Rahul Gandhi are “more or less” the same belonging to the older age group. This seems to be a consistent pattern in the previous election studies as well.
The attitudes of the youth in the West are different from the youth in India; the Western youth articulate their politics better, in a more often radical way than what their counterparts do here. The youth power, as such, is not a distinctly a decisive political force, as we imagine.
Then, there is the women vote. There is this time a record number of women MPs. This is a welcome change.
Women, it seems now decide, on their own, 43 per cent said they decide on their own. This is a welcome development. The Muslim vote?
Yes, this vote this time went in favour of the Congress over all, in UP and in West Bengal as well. In other states as well we see the Muslims over all are becoming more secular and modern minded when it comes to vote share, the traditional claimants like the SP in UP and the Left in West Bengal seem to have changed.
Then comes the regional and chauvinist parties.
In TN, there is still the hold of the Dravidian parties, the Congress lost heavily even in alliance with the DMK, while the ADMK too seemed to have lost heavily unexpectedly even in alliance with the Left parties and other caste parties.
The rural vote?
The rural votes are dominated by the Dalits and other lower castes; it is these castes who voted also in large numbers, the urban vote showed apathy while the rural votes were in higher percentages. Money power?
Yes, money power played a significant role in some states, more so in a more distinctive way in TN. Part machinery. Yes, party machinery is what mattered and the motivation. Many of the election studies or the TV channels comments dealt with the other extraneous factors like the glamour of film star candidates and others. The fact remains that even with a so-called dedicated cadre-based parties like the Left, the CPI and the CPI (M), we see this time, the parties suffered heavily in Kerala and West Bengal. We know for sure in Kerala the CPI (M) is as corrupt as in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu. So, the CPI (M) suffered, while the DMK did well, more wooing to the practice of distributing and sharing the spoils of election cash bundles.
May be it is the same now everywhere. Black money is a big factor and no one says it so openly, may be the Congress spent more money this time, while the BJP and others like (the AIADMK) didn’t spend as much. Why?
Simply because the parties concerned didn’t have the funds, they couldn’t generate the required funds. A simple and unglamorous explanation? So be it.
The DMK earned this time enough notoriety for its stubborn demands for plush portfolios.
In the process, the Congress lost face and also quickly saved face.
The Prime Minister had to eat his words and swallow his pride and acknowledge in public that he didn’t say anything unfavorable about the DMK claimants for plum portfolios like surface transport and telecommunications.
And yet we saw the ultimate winner, the one who had the last laugh was the DMK chief who had it all he wanted, though he lost it out in seeking the surface transport for his near loyalist who the New Delhi TV channels castigated the DMK for using the Delhi government portfolios as ATMs!
So, the money power, the cadre power and a well oiled party machinery that rigs the votes are all contributing factors for the sorts of wins we saw in some of the key states. The states that gave a mixed verdict from the larger and broader ideological perspective,
So what is the role or relevance of ideologies in this elections? A good question that must provide us some reasonable answers as out polity is evolving towards a more liberal and a more positive vote for change for the better of the largest number of people.
Some ideologists and articulators might despair about the persistence of high malnourished children, pregnant women. The government expenditure on health and education, the lowest in the world (Mihir Shah).
Is this the vote for more economic reforms? More privatisation is more reforms?
Such questions would trouble any conscience! Conscience wont let us make some facile assumptions of change, rural governance and sustainable fight to reduce poverty and social deprivations.
All this calls for much more serious dialogue and introspection.
Governance is not more of the same, right?