On the eve of States Elections in December 2013 an article was penned by this writer highlighting the absence of public issues in electioneering by major political parties. Only the newly born Aam Aadmi Party had clearly brought out not only the issues with which they entered in fray but also gave a time bound programme for their implementation. They had prepared constituency based manifestos also.
When this party unexpectedly turned out to be a ruling entity its methods and style of functioning became an example for others to emulate. However, with the unwise and hurried resignation of Mr. Kejriwal the tables started turning on AAP and for everything it stood for. The propaganda started in reverse and the environment was created to show that only the status quoists only knew how to run a government. Corruption, price rise, economic down turn and concomitances were put under the carpet. The nation was ready for the crucial general elections at the same time.
Ever since his elevation in September 2013 as BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Mr. Narendra Modi started a well planned image building exercise which proved very useful for his party in the state elections in December 2013 and the Media carried only the Modi Mantra baring few days when Kejriwal replaced him for a very short period. The phenomenon reemerged post Kejriwal’s exit and kept on building up further with more vigor. It became a sort of presidential type of election with only one candidate officially on the scene. The parties distancing itself from BJP on the question of Modi started showing willingness to join his band wagon leaving Mr. Nitish kumar, a long standing partner of the BJP, alone. These parties were reluctant to stand with Mr. Modi on the so-called secularism issue and that very issue disappeared in the process which the BJP rightly calls Modi Wave. The BJP forgot that its own identity too became a victim of Modi Wave. There is no necessity to highlight the internal disturbances being witnessed within the BJP-in particular the not so secret displeasure of its senior leaders. Whether one likes it or not all credit goes to Mr. Modi for this and he deserves a win in his favor.
However, the foregoing is only a back ground briefly mentioned to come to the main issues. In a mature democracy people view and analyze contesting party’s policies and programs on the basis of which they form their opinion and vote accordingly. In Indian scenario the choice is based on cast identities of candidates-a fact which just cannot be ignored by high sounding discussions among self appointed political analysts and purists. The parties thus endeavor to choose their candidates based on this factor only. But even then, there is need of policy and programs based on which the voters choose from amongst these cast based candidates. Unfortunately this crucial requirement has been totally ignored not only by parties but the electorates too.
At the time of Modi’s elevation there was a mention of a vision document of the BJP which will transform India into something not heard of. Those serious about policies and programs kept on waiting for this vision document till 07th April when elections were already in progress. On top of that the vision document hardly was found to be anything different from what the Congress brought out in its own manifesto. Even in a hurry they forgot that their sop for the Ex-Defense personnel One Rank One Pension was already implemented by the UPA-II government and no longer remains outstanding. Perhaps the party felt that in the present scenario there was no necessity for any of such things. But the message is clear that as far as the polity is concerned both the major contenders are nothing but substitute for one another. None presents any alternative system. For a change Mr. Rajnath Singh has now given a time frame of 150 days to bring black money back. He must be wished well.
The UPA is down the drain in public perceptions for its failures on all fronts. They too seem to reconcile to this state and having ruled for 10 long years they want to relax. What else one can draw when the likes of Mr. Chidambram opts out! Or heavy weights change sides! Only the Mother and son duo of the congress party is showing nerves to keep the party in reckoning-after all it is the largest political party in the country and the critics may say anything its contribution to what India is today cannot be wished away. It has seen many ups and down since 1967 and has re-captured public attention time and again. One hopes it learns a thing or two in the mean time.
When such is the atmosphere due to Modi wave then what was the necessity for continuing the electioneering based on verbal duels? The epithets of Shehzada, Son in-law, Luteras on one hand and retaliation by communal and hatyara on the other are just not going away from the rallies. Is there any example of such electioneering any where? Anyone who upholds decency in public discourse would feel pain on this point.
The other thing on the same Modi wave is the re-emergence of communal agenda! Is there any indication that the wave is wearing off? Be that as it may, this type of electioneering is crossing all limits. In an earlier write up in Udaipur Times I had brought out the adverse effects of such propaganda on Muslim Psyche. In that analysis it was shown that the Muslim Community will be on the receiving end whether Mr. Modi becomes Indian Prime Minister or not. The prediction is becoming true as the days pass by. Through pamphleteering, speeches and comments it has become an alarming situation. While Mr. Modi is keeping his discourse totally free from this menace the others are having free hands. While few have been given notices by EC many others have been left out. There are Muslim politicians also who are making unwarranted and condemnable statements. Maulana Madani has done a right thing by making his ‘Topi and Tilak’ statement there by burying the controversy of Modi not wearing a skull cap offered during his Sadbhavna program. But others have not. Mr. Rajnath Singh has also made his contribution admirably by wearing a cap and distancing BJP from Griraj Singh’s-a BJP candidate- (Pakistan statement). Mr. Modi should intervene strongly and not leave it to tweeting only.
The third disturbing and more alarming is the lumpanisation where in other candidates are not being allowed their freedom of campaigning-notably Mr. Kejriwal. Even Mr. MM Joshi felt the heat by calling the wave as BJP wave instead of Modi wave. Does it show the birth of personality based politics? All at the cost of Mr. Modi? What would then happen to democracy? The very definition of democracy is that it does not have its own ideology and tolerates every other.
One hopes that the Election Commission is taking cognizance of all these developments and will make sure that the remaining phases of general election are conducted peacefully and within the bounds of its norms.