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Elections in India: Fight of faces and symbols than of agendas

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By Saurav Kumar Sinha:

What we read from the constitution and the civic book was that the individual citizens have the right to choose the local representative ( MLA / MP) and he or she then has a right to choose the CM or the PM. It’s basic, decentralized and thus problems of each and every constituency is covered in any election. Every party has a central manifesto that they promise but in the same time , local candidates also share their past work and forward their future plans to local public where they are contesting elections via on ground campaigns but this activity has shrunked drastically, not their visit but the issue that the discuss of put forward. Despite a long list of candidature on the voting machine, candidates who posses ticket from mainstream political have higher probability of winning than from those who are either independent or from regional non branded parties. Do we compare the agendas, their past and probability of them performing in the future for a local constituency and then vote? The first four elections saw a lot of independent candidate winning, 37 in 1952,42 in 1957, 28 in 1962 and then 43 in 1967. This number got reduced to 5 in 2004 and in current regime we have just 3. I guess, as our is sacred for the constitution institutions to function in the best possible way, we should introspect.

Although the Law Commission Report on Reform of the Electoral Laws (1999) stated that the time is now ripe for barring independent candidates from contesting elections for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies and has made recommendations accordingly.But the same report insisted that the parties not working on democratic values inside their party structure must not be allowed to contest the elections. Now how many parties function that way is known to all. The discussion is not to promote the independent candidature for assembly elections but to start a debate that the voting should be performed as per what constitution and democracy demands and primarily on local issues.

The same ideology of “let’s promote faces and symbols” can be seen in every parties campaign. There are lot of basic issue that falls under union list given in seventh schedule of the constitution that we all should ask and inquire our local candidates. He is the one answerable and accountable for those work in the area. But do we see any of those in election campaigns ? We see hoarding every day with faces, propaganda marketing and reflection of cooked recipes from the media. Since we don’t vote on agendas or to be very precise logically that’s why the vote share is weirdly distributed. Any MLA/MP having 35 % or more vote share has almost 99.99 % of probability to win the elections so does this mean that we can have two such candidates in a constituency ? This is purely because all the candidates run from basis mathematical agendas that can be measured easily and could be voted upon to propaganda marketing, symbols and central faces. As iterated above, there are lot of reforms that makes an election contesting difficult for an independent candidate but are we trying to implementing these rules to strengthen the democracy or promoting big political parties with huge fundings.

Any election is a huge expenditure for the government. Any messages from a star campaigner can float via many electronic mediums to individuals. We can understand few visits of central leadership to the poll areas but recent elections in five state have shown that many CMs, central ministers, party campaigners frequent visits, branding, event management but none of them uttered a single local issue whereas it was a state election and state list issues must have been raised. Its also understandable since they don’t belong to the local area they are unaware but people should think on this point that the rallies will not change the fate of the place but the discussion on agendas that too local agendas will.This expenditure that I feel is of no use goes in vain and issues remain same. ( A full bench of CIC on 3rd June 2018 said that all the six national parties are public authorities and under RTI none of the parties contested the decision in any court and they are also not following it, The petitioner has moved to SC and the matter is pending)

The question is, are political parties winning or people winning? What we understand from democracy is that its by for and of the people, but are weexecuting for same as a citizen?

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