WITH THE OUTCOME of the general elections just a week away, and voting to be completed in just 59 seats, all eyes are on the performances of various parties and formation of the new government.
It has been a long and hard fought elections with political leaders putting in their best efforts. The seven phase elections spread over a month and a half has left the country guessing over the outcome. As a senior political analyst said, unlike previous elections, this one is the toughest to predict.
There is hardly any one who is willing to put down a figure for various parties and alliance partners. While there are differences over which party would emerge as the single largest party, there is unanimity on the point that it would be alliances which would decide the formation of the next government.
Certain significant aspects that stand out in these elections which had not been seen in any previous elections have made these elections unique and path breaking.
For instance, till late seventies or till the end of the Emergency, it was a one sided game with the Congress dominating and with a clear face for prime minister’s post. Then came an era of coalitions with no face for the top post. Thus we had a series of leaders who became prime ministers but were never projected as such during election campaigns. These included Morarji Desai, VP Singh, Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. The exceptions were Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee who was projected as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP during this period.
Modi led his party and the coalition to a hands down victory and he has since then sought to build his image as an invincible leader. Instead of the slogan of "BJP BJP”, what was popularised was "Modi, Modi”. All this has led to building up of a personality cult around him.
The big change came in 2014 when the BJP and its alliance partners projected Narendra Modi as an undisputed prime ministerial candidate while the Congress went without a face as it remained undecided on whether to project Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for the post.
Modi led his party and the coalition to a hands down victory and he has since then sought to build his image as an invincible leader. Not just the alliance partners, even the BJP and RSS too were made to take a back seat. Even Modi himself chose to address himself in the third person. Instead of saying I did this or that, he would say Modi did this and that. Instead of the slogan of "BJP BJP”, what was popularised was "Modi, Modi”. All this has led to building up of a personality cult around him.
Even these elections are being contested by the BJP and its alliance partners with Modi as undisputed leader. The Congress and its alliance partners and even the members of mahagathbandhan
have not come out clearly on their prime ministerial candidate. While SP and BSP are wishing for Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and other regional chieftains are nursing their own ambitions. The Congress too has not come out officially with its prime ministerial candidate but now it has become more or less clear that its President Rahul Gandhi would take up the post if Congress gets sufficient numbers to stake its claim with the help of its allies. His acceptability has certainly increased over the last few months.
Right from ‘pappu’ versus ‘feku’ to ‘chowkidar chor hai’ versus dynastic politics, the standards have fallen to the lowest level that can be imagined.
Another important aspect of the elections has been the divisiveness it has generated in the society. The differences have never been sharper and the political rhetoric never so acerbic as it was during the current campaign. Right from ‘pappu’ versus ‘feku’ to ‘chowkidar chor hai’ versus dynastic politics, the standards have fallen to the lowest level that can be imagined.
In the process the real issues concerning the people have taken a back stage. We have the ‘dynasty’, Modi, Balakot strikes, alleged wrongs in the past, religion and caste politics as the major issues instead of getting economy back on the rails, generating employment, getting investments, steps to help the crucial farm sector, encouraging trade and enterprises and developing infrastructure.
The results would decide whether the country would be run either through coalitions providing for protecting the interests as well as needs of the diversity that India is or through creating a uniform system moving towards presidential form of government.
As the country gives its verdict, drawing lessons from the past and placing faith in the hands of elected leaders, the prayer in the hearts of all citizens should be to take the country to new heights of development.
(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)
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