What it points to? The ideological perspective and the media perspective
The 2009 Lok Sabha elections have certainly given a sweep of sorts. There is an all India perspective to the outcome of the elections. There is a vote for a strong and a stable India. Also, there is a vote for a secular India. The caste and regional parties were convincingly defeated. The Congress emerged as the single largest party. At the same time, it hasn’t got an absolute majority.
The political pundits, from media men, the old hands and the new brash variety have had a free run, so to say.
All manner of interpretations are now given and we are in a better position after a week of the media blitz and much else.
Politics is a very fine field and also it can be a power game and as such a very treacherous field as well.
Time and tide wait for none. So too politics don’t wait for anyone.
We have to take politics as it comes along and let us see what the 2009 election outcome portend.
What are the likely trends, the long and short-term trends?
First, as we have noted this is a massive change in the last 20 years, nearly two decades of political instability is now ended. So, this election becomes a significant trend, a very positive step towards a more mature and a stronger democracy.
So, this is the first and foremost message, it looks as if it is to be a long-term trend.
What is the second feature, if we can call it so, the second most important trend of this election?
Is the BJP finished? Once and for all?
It is not!
A democracy won’t function or survive if there is no opposition party or parties, right?
This aspect has now been forgotten conveniently by all commentators. Media played a very negative and irresponsible role in hiding this important side of the election outcome.
As the BJP men pointed out, that the BJP had won in seven states! Not a significant number of states. And that too in some of the larger states like MP and Karnataka. This fact or this phenomenon must be kept in our perspective, right?
Then comes the third and in some media blitz, it looks like the first and only most significant trend, the triumph of the youth power, the personal triumph of Rahul Gandhi.
Yes, this is a rise, a steep rise for Rahul Gandhi in Indian politics. He seems to have come of age. May be this time is the time for the rise and consolidation of Rahul Gandhi.
But it is also time and it is good for Rahul Gandhi too to know what his rise at this moment conveys. By way of insights and trends.
The current media blitz, more so on the TV channels, is far from total reality. It is at best only a partial reality.
First, the decision of the Congress to go it alone in UP, Bihar is also as a result of the UP, Bihar leaders, the SP and the RJD and Paswan party to go it alone too. This prompted or made it inevitable to certain extent, for the Congress to go it alone, to use the hackneyed phrase.
The UP results are a reminder that all was not lost for the BJP too. Yes, the Congress won, decisively in a way in a state that it was almost considered a lost cause, with Mayawati making so much noise and making so many nuisances too!
Now, the Congress went alone in UP and Bihar and proved a point. Secularism, development, caste vs. development and much else was proved to be a winner for the poor, the lower castes and the very many castes within the OBC spectrum, as argued by the sociologists.
But then, is it true that it was all for Rahul’s strategy?
Or, is it all for Rahul’s vision etc, as made out by the TV channels? Rajiv Sardesai, Burkha Datta, Karan Thapar became a bit too shriller and what they have done and what the channels are doing in the days after the government formation point towards a brainwashing brand management trip.
Is this all true and will pay any political dividends for all the “stake-holders” so to say?
It is a bit too much of a hard task and better it is avoided.
For anyone who has a sense of history or some perspective or some ideological inclination, Rahul Gandhi’s triumph reminds us somewhat the days when in the early seventie4s of the last century, during the Emergency days and after what Sanjay Gandhi was doing and when he, Sanjay, finally won for the Congress party and installed his mother, Indira Gandhi in power in 1980, there was the very same roaring of the youth power. Also, when Rajiv Gandhi won a massive majority soon after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, there was this wave of the youth power.
The point here is that the youth power is often an unknown quantity. This needs to be kept in mind. That is here matters.
In fact, the TV channels themselves this time brought out the fact that the 15th Lok Sabha is not after all the youth power Lok Sabha.
The 15th Lok Sabha has 79 MPs who are below 40 years of age. As per another study, the first Lok Sabha had more youth!
Also the Indian MPs even in the new Lok Sabha, their average age is higher than what prevails in countries like Japan and other countries. 225 MPs who are below 50 years. There are 58 women MPs, highest so far.
There are more criminals and crorepatis this time. What to make of it?
There are other sociological aspects of the composition of the MPs elected from various castes, regions and even professions.
What to make of the youth power as merely a dynastic nature of the Indian polity as it is evolving.
If every other politician, his or her party only promotes his or her sons and daughters, what is the real significance of the democratic order we are all talking about?
So, it is not a sign of democracy fully flowering in India. It is the feudal and caste and community, the older version of the Hindu caste order in a new garb?
There is much for the study of the nature and significance of the democracy as India is evolving.
Also, there are the other unsaid aspects of the new government.
Is this a genuinely elected and constituted parliamentary democracy? Or, is it just a sort of power-elite, where the administrative, the professional and careerist politics getting the cover of a genuine democracy?
136 from the Congress are crorepatis.150 MPs are with criminal records, as per the Election Watch study.
There are some other aspects of the new government or the tasks for the new government.
The lack of genuine democratic spirit, the Prime Minister is still nominated and also the sort of priorities for the government are far from genuine democratic aspirations that are sought to be imposed on the election verdict.
Even the word, governance, is hiding some uncomfortable truths.
What about the issue of corruption? The election corruption and the role of black money in winning the elections?
Lok Pal, Lokayuta, the role of the CBI, its independence, genuine election reforms, here are also some range of issues and priorities, and Constitutional reforms, the Constitution Review Committee reports are gathering dust, all this and much more needs to be taken up.
The bureaucracy was a big burden in Indian scheme of things. Manmohan Singh didn’t do much about the administrative reforms. Only now, his wishes to have more bureaucrats around him were not granted! The independence of the judiciary, some peculiar deviations, in judiciary, CBI and some other institutions, including the National Security Adviser and a penchant for retaining old hands and an unwillingness to tap talents from a wider and a newer range, say from IT industry achievers, to deploy IT tools for social change etc are the short-comings of the new government as well, it seems.
Is this not the face of a genuine democratic polity the people of the country have voted for?
Corruption, weeding out corrupt ministers and MPs and much else need to be given thought.
Of course, as we have stated and started this article, politics is all about power and power is always ruthless and also prone to corrupt practices.
It is for the rich and the powerful, the middle classes and also not the so docile power classes who voted for a decisive change all that needs to be addressed.
The role of the opposition parties too need to be put on a more enlightened footing.