Saturday, May 17, 2014

Takeaways from 2014 elections

General elections in India are the largest democratic exercise anywhere in the world. (This is despite what the erudite B.R.Ambedkar said about Indian democracy: "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.") These are more sophisticated than American presidential elections where in the year 2000, hanging / dimpled / pregnant chads created doubts about the legitimacy of Republican victory. Indian general elections use electronic voting machines and therefore delays in counting are rare.

The exercise that just got over have thrown up many lessons.

1) Contrary to general belief, dalits do not necessarily vote for the party that claims to espouse their cause. The Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati did not get even one seat in the elections.

2) Pseudo secularism is passe. Voters are not convinced by the argument that Modi despite ensuring absence of communal riots in Gujarat post 2002 is not secular.

3) Voters are against family-based politics. Fate of Congress and DMK are indicative. Vestiges of influence of the Gandhi family remain in Rae Bareli and Amethi only. They are becoming fragile there also.

4) Assistance to the poor is recognised and rewarded. 'Amma Unavagam' ( inexpensive restaurants promoted by the AIADMK government for the poor) has fetched 37 out of 39 seats for AIADMK.

5) Unbecoming behaviour of even otherwise popular leaders is getting punished. Shashi Tharoor almost lost the election in Thiruvananthapuram this time. He polled 2.97 lac votes versus 2.82 lac votes for BJP's Rajagopal and CPI's 2.49 lac votes (Dr. Bennet Abraham). In 2009, Tharoor had won by a margin of 99,998 votes.

6) Congress is losing its reputation as a national party. It has failed to win even a single seat in 7 states.

7) Corrupt candidates can still win. Yeddyurappa in Shimoga and Ashok Chavan in Nanded are examples.

8) Politics is different from corporate management. Nandan Nilekani and V.Balakrishnan do not have people's support which is a requirement for political success.

9) Success in Delhi does not guarantee victory in other places. Arvind Kejriwal and his party, AAP need to learn this simple truth.

10) Politics is more complicated and demanding than psephology. Else why did Yogendra Yadav lose in Gurgaon?

11) Father's reputation cannot help the daughter for life. Meira Kumar, d / o Jagjivan Ram lost in Sasaram.

12) Politics is just not cricket. Md.Azharuddin and Md.Kaif lost in Tonk and Phulpur respectively. Of course, they chose to contest for a losing party.

13) People's patience for exploitative politics is waning. Rabri Devi lost in Saran. Karti Chidambaram came a poor fourth in Sivaganga. Chidambaram's fiat to banks to keep on opening branches in Sivaganga failed to win popular support.

14) Intellectual arrogance is inconsistent with politics. Mani Shankar Aiyer had the fourth position in his home town, Mayiladuthurai.

15) Arun Jaitley was a noticeable loser in Amritsar. He might have lost for one of two reasons. He is perhaps not fit for street politics. Or was there a conspiracy within BJP against him? He was originally a part of the "Delhi gang". He subsequently moved over to Modi's side. His admonition of senior leaders that they should accept the party's decision on their constituencies soured his relationship with leaders including Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

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