Thursday, December 11, 2008

Divided as Communities but United as Individuals!!

The recently concluded Assembly elections in – Delhi, Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh & Mizoram threw up rather interesting news. For BJP the election was a bit of a dampener given the ‘3-2 numerical defeat’ that it had been subjected to. More so, given the fact that it was widely predicted that the resulted might have been somewhat 4-1 or even a 5-nil drubbing of the Congress, the mood at the BJP headquarters was understandably subdued.

The Congress on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised at the long rope which the electorate seemed to give the GOP of India. Somewhat, akin to Rahul Dravid keeping his place in the Indian Test Squad, the reaction was more of relief than real celebration.

The causes and reasons for the defeat & demise of BJP … and the ‘resurgence’ of Congress have been widely debated and deliberated upon. And rather bemusing is the fact that the post mortem of these electoral results have bought the arch-rivals to a common perch – Development!   

Not long ago, it was the rampaging blue elephant of Mayawati’s BSP (Bahujan Samajwadi Party) which was supposed to have trampled upon both the Congress & BJP with equal disdain. While the Blue Elephant of the BSP was somewhat restraint this time! The sleeping giant that the Indian Electorate is indeed vouched for the BSP, albeit of a different breed – Bijli, Sadak, Paani (translated – Electricity, Roads & Water). All put together what is now hailed as the ‘Development Plank’.

A refreshing change which swept across all the constituencies was that the Electorate realized that everyone was just as good (or bad) in their track record of handling ‘national security’ or ‘terrorism’. A rath wielding, baying-for-Afzal-Guru’s-head LK Advani or a riot-wrecker-in-chief Narendra Modi was seen as equally bad as a minority-appeasing-soft-on-terror Sonia Gandhi or the-spineless-erstwhile-home minister Shivraj Patil. This election was a mandate not on political parties of a certain ideology, but it was a mandate on those leaders who worked for the state which they governed.

Sheila Dixit, as a CM of Delhi has had an abysmal record on the security front; in the 10 years of her tenure the city-state has seen several high profile security lapses, from the attack on Parliament to the twin blasts on the eve of Diwali a few falls ago… and yet when Delhi voted her back to power for the third straight term, it was in the grim background of the 60 hr Mumbai siege. The electorate seemed to have understood that as a CM of Delhi, you’re running a govt. which hardly has any say on Security Issues given the concurrence of geographical entities which the state & central governments lay claim on. More than ½ your police force is forced into a bonded labor of sorts by being pushed into ‘VIP Security’ ‘Bandobast Duty’ ‘Security Cordons’ and the like.

Also, the electorate understood that in Delhi is a Crowd of self-acclaimed VIP’s, leaders who were branded as those without a political base (thanks to the now-obscured Uma Bharti), seen everywhere on the TVscape and not on the ground, those who spoke big but had achieved little (Madanlal Khurana?? anyone..)… and given such a background it’s a welcome contrast that the Delhi Electorate has once again elected someone who is none of those ‘hi-profile’ tags. Sheila Dixit on the contrary has often been seen as weak, almost invisible, cant-remember-when-she-was-on-TV-last-time figure. And yet it appears the Delhi Electorate has recognized the work she has done; and has rightly rewarded her!

Similar has been the fate of the two BJP won states – MP & Chhattisgarh; both CM’s have a relatively low profile when compared to the Modis & Rajes of the BJP. And yet, the electorate has been dancing to the Development tune which they have successfully played.
Contrast these ‘small’, ‘low profile’ leaders against the high & mighty Vasundhra Raje… who ruled like she was an Empress, trampled upon her own partymen with a Mayawati kind of disdain, alienated her own allies like only she can, romped & pomped her way in her state sponsored private jet, and what you got was a royal drubbing when she was brought to the people’s court.

This election must have been a lesson to each of those political pundits and spin doctors, who thought of the Indian Electorate as just another emotive and fractured bunch of folks. Those whose support could be ‘bought’ by putting up gruesome posters of a terror attack; by promising to hang/let go those who have been convicted of crimes against the nation. 

If issues of caste & religion have divided us, issues of price rise, roads, electricity, education etc are good enough to unite us (for or against a government). If the former issues are a threat to our collective identity and ideology; the latter are the foundations of our individual existence. Politicians paint terrorists as Muslims (now they are painting some even as Hindus) to create a divide amongst communities; but a Hindu or a Muslim living on the same street will be more willing to unite and fight for the lack of proper drinking water nearby. Afzal guru might be an issue to divide different communities, but price-rise was issue which had a more direct impact on the lives of individuals – whether Muslim, Hindu or a Christian dearer Onions made you ‘cry’ more than usual. 

The polity thus far failed to realize that we were a nation not of divided communities, but of united individuals! This realization, I believe is the biggest joy of this electoral season… hopefully, the same continues come Apr-May and the general elections!

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