They say India is a rich country inhabited by the poor. After all, 1% of Indians hold nearly 60% of the country’s wealth.
Currently, India is faced with gigantic challenges of unemployment, health-care, structured-urbanization among several other complex and pressing problems. But one must remember, India is the largest democracy in the world. The election exercise conducted every five years continues to be a matter of immense pride for us, although it might charge us a paltry sum of Rs 30,000 Cr (Read 2014). Estimates of 2019 Lok Sabha poll expenditures seem to be cantering up to a reasonable Rs 50,000 Cr.
Have you ever spent a little more on something than what you had budgeted, because you liked it? We are all guilty of that on some occasion or the other. But at the end of the day, you are glad if that Nike Air Max comforts your tiring feet and complements your vibrancy, despite you shelling a few extra bucks for it.
Writers have an inherent penchant for sighting analogies and getting carried away by it. However, a good writer must possess keen discernment. I am aware. I digress.
To put the above-stated mind-boggling expense into perspective, bluntly put, elections are an exercise in futility. Even after all that money is drained away in the elections, we almost always get an incompetent party at the helm of nation-governance. I wish it was more like the shopping experience – spend money, but extract satisfaction!
To say that the current political climate doesn’t encourage dissent, would be a euphemism, as cases of muzzling the independence of the press, sloganeering, majoritarianism and intolerance are on the rise. Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah’s recent comment -‘the death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer’-on Bulandshahr violence was unsurprisingly received with outrage by the Hindutva warriors, and was in fact termed ‘unacceptable’. Shah comes from an industry that should exemplify the liberal bent of mind and the liberal virtue. Instead, we have got movie releases this month, that reeks more of propaganda than creativity. My cerebrum broke loose when I saw the promo of “The Accidental Prime Minister” on the official twitter handle of the BJP. This is propaganda on the stratospheric level. That the BJP dreams of a Hindu Rashtra is irrefutable, but one might argue if an alternate- truly secular party- exists?
Here’s the conundrum
After a slew of corruption cases emerged in the UPA-2 government back in the day, the whole nation was swept by a wind that demanded change. The BJP under the leadership of the charismatic Modi, cashed in on the nation’s sentiments, by promising development(Read Gujurat inc.), employment of the youth, upliftment of the agrarian population, while aggressively condemning the corruption-plagued Congress. We are cognizant about how much of that has been delivered.
Now, the nation’s identity is reeling under the current political climate. The secular fabric of the nation is in danger, and some want a change. While it’s still early to say, if the ‘semi-final’ assembly polls are anything to go by, the next charade of elections might see a change in fortunes of the Congress at the center. But is Congress a credible alternative to the Hindutva narrative told by the current government?
In 1985, Shah Bano, a 62-year-old impoverished mother of five, filed a case in the highest court of the land, seeking maintenance from her ex-husband. The SC ruled in her favour. But fearing the ruling might cost them Muslim votes, the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress overturned it in the parliament. In October of 1988, India became the first country in the world to impose a ban on Salman Rushdie’s ‘The satanic verses‘. The Nellie pogrom of 1983 where nearly 3000 people were killed, the Hyderabad riots of 1990, are a few examples of communal violence among others, that took place during the Congress party’s tenure. Hence, is it fair for the Congress to infuse any momentum to being the right alternate choice under the current Hindutva onslaught?
One cannot help but become cynical. Any choice by the common man, born out of a deep desire to see real and substantial change, ends up only in a literal change of political parties in power.