Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

When I was a kid, I remember, I wasn’t particularly great at cricket (or so I think now). But at that time, I thought, I was pure genius. I knew the right technique (read it in a book), I understood English commentary (unlike some of my friends) and most important of all, I had a bat. Now, the first two traits may not be sufficient to make me the most valuable player in my team but the third one ensured, no game started without me.

I’m thinking, that’s what used to happen with Bardhan, Deve Gowda and Mayawati as well. But wait a minute, aren’t these people pro-socialism/communism (whatever those heavy terms mean). Thus it follows that these people would hate the game of cricket since it involves a lot of money and they instead love Kabaddi. So I’m wondering, where did they actually learn this trick – the Bat-trick! coz. that’s the only way to describe the formation of the Third Front.

Let’s take a look at the numbers of the 2004 general election results:

Out of a total of 545 possible seats in the Lok Sabha, any party who wishes to form a government should atleast attain a simple majority (51%) ie. around 278 seats. In the 2004 general elections, 543 seats were contested and the top three parties were as under:

1. Congress was the single largest party with 145 seats;
2. BJP came in a close second with 138 seats; and
3. The next largest party was CPI(M) with only 43 seats.

The difference between the second and third largest party is huge. But the CPI(M) and a few other parties together called the Left, flaunted the secular badge and the Congress along with its allies came to power under the banner UPA.

The left, now disillusioned with the UPA withdrew support and on 22nd July, again the UPA proved its vote of confidence with a good margin even without the Left. The savior was the Samajwadi Party with 36 seats.

The left, at times I feel, follow an ideology of disillusionment. They are always disillusioned with everything after a point of time, be it the rising sensex, growing industrialization, or their political alliances. They are like the typical husbands – love their girlfriends before marriage but after a few years, start cribbing about everything that’s wrong with their wives. (Typical wives would also be appropriate but I guess, a lot of women read my blog so… Ahem!)

So the Left, now divorced from the UPA found a prospective suitor when Deve Gowda floated the idea of the Third Front. Of course, they were the third largest party. So with much fan fare, the third front has been formed. But if we look at the numbers, the third front paints a sorry picture. Remember, the magic figure is 51% of 545 ie. around 278.

Numbers of 2004 General Elections:
Janta Dal Secular – 3
CPI – 10
CPI (M) – 43
Forward Bloc – 3
Republican Party of India – 0
Revolutionary Socialist Party – 3
Telugu Desam Party – 5
Telangana Rashtra Samithi – 5
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – 19

Total – 91

What would you say, if I told you that the leader of BSP with just 19 seats in the Lok Sabha dreams of becoming the next Prime Minister? I’d say she’s weak at maths.

Another sorry fact: In the 2004 general elections, BSP contested the highest number of seats – a total of 435 seats (even more than the Congress who contested for 400 seats) of which it won only 19 and its deposit was forfeited in 358 seats. It got only 5% of the total votes polled in the country.

Agreed, things have changed since 2004. In the 2007 state elections, Mayawati lead BSP came to power in Uttar Pradesh becoming the first single majority party since 1991 and the fact that Uttar Pradesh sends the highest number of MPs (80) to the Lok Sabha might have made Mayawati very buoyant.

But practically, the third front has no chance of forming the government without the support of the Congress or its major allies.

Even a grand performance by the parties of the left front in this general election, say a positive swing of almost 50%, would leave them with only around 150 seats. Far from the magic figure.

And remember, this is a front combined of almost 10 smaller parties. You never know, which party doesn’t get paid on time and you could have a vote of no confidence.

If the third front does manage to come to power with the support of the Congress, it will be a notable feat, similar to the one below:

And not to forget Sonia Gandhi’s mood swings. Deve Gowda remained in power for 11 months with support from the Congress before Sonia decided she was bored of him. Just imagine, what if the motorcycles in the picture above started racing with each other?

So if the parties of the third front do not support the Congress, I guess, we are in for a short term government coz. I don’t really see the NDA or the UPA getting to the magic figure alone. A short term government it will be then, after all how long can the fragile pyramid last. Be prepared for another General Election next year, unless of course, you the voter understand this bat-trick and vote for the party who can provide a stable government. The third front certainly cannot.

I may have believed that by virtue of my bat, I was valuable enough to stall the game, but I never was stupid enough to think, I could be the captain.


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Short Warning: Long Post

It’s show time again. The political parties in India have started their preparations (read mudslinging, allegations, singing their own laurels, you name it) all in order to inform the prospective voter that they are the future of India; however bleak it may appear.

But make no mistake, we are the largest democracy in the world (in terms of population and electorate) and no matter how horrible democracy may seem, it is still the least worst (is that a term – least worst? Whatever, u get the point, don’t you) methods of running a country among all that have been tried.

Now the thing with democracy is that every institution in a democratic country tries to follow the same lethargic but overrated concept of democracy. (I have a feeling that this is done just to tell us morons that dude, it’s all your fault, just like my wife tells me in every discussion).

But the thing is that ‘the desire to be democratic’ results in so many elections – Lok Sabha elections, State elections, Municipal council elections, college elections, cricket team elections (ya, used to happen in our neighborhood in a sort of informal way), neighborhood elections and right to elections for either watching cricket or a soap on TV, elections for which restaurant to dine in and even elections for which side of the bed to sleep on (this one, there’s an obvious winner coz. when I and my wife are voting, she has the final deciding vote. But nevertheless, elections so that she can tell me, dude we played fair, and yes, it’s all your fault). With so many elections, I at times, tend to forget, what am I voting for.

Though most of these elections do not get media coverage and international press, the one that is at the top of the list certainly does. A recent report suggests that India is all set to spend an estimated of ten thousand crore rupees or 100 billion rupees (USD 2 billion) on the upcoming General Elections. All of this money being spent on an over-rated exercise? I dare not say over-rated anymore.

But then, why not? After all, what is the choice that is being thrust in your face? Obviously, the two most prominent choices are the staunch Hindu L.K. Advani and a faceless remote control operated by an Italian lass Sonia Gandhi. Before you start sending me hate mail, since you would be obviously fond of one party or the other, I’d like to clarify that demeaning them was (and still is) not at all the purpose of my post. So let’s not go into that discussion, not for now at least. You’ll have plenty of time and chance to do that later, I assure you.

Coming back, if India, in these times of recession is about to spend a 100 billion rupees, just coz. later the Government can blame us morons and say – “we gave you the choice, it’s all your fault”, it definitely is our job, (yes we morons do have a job, we’ve always had it, just that we don’t take it seriously) to ensure that this money is well spent. No way, no amount of cajoling, protest or any colored undergarments on your part will stop India from spending this money. Coz, both, the government as well as the political parties have their own reasons to spend.

The government will spend on Voting machines, ID Cards, security, election personnel etc. to absolve itself of all problems with the country later on; and

The parties look at the elections as an investment, so they’re not gonna shy away from investing heavily in expectation of splendid returns over the next five years.

Did someone say that after all this expenditure is for the betterment of the country? Oh well, I’m sorry but you see, I’m, as I said, a moron and I can’t really understand how this expenditure will make the country better. There’ll be certainly an explanation to it which you might want to read in the comments section since I’m sure few of my intelligent readers will care to explain.

But coming back to the point, it is our job (gives me such great pleasure in repeating this term, makes me feel I’ve really got the most important job in the world) to ensure this money is well spent. How do we do that? Just make sure, you understand the basics of our democratic system and what this election is all about?

The election that we are referring to is the Lok Sabha Election or the General Election which usually happens every 5 years since the term of each Government is 5 years. This is basically, in layman’s terms, an election for selecting the Prime Minister, his council of ministers and his henchmen… err. MPs for the next five years. These people that you elect right now, will be responsible for broadly running the country, framing federal policies (Policies that apply to the whole country and not your state/district/territory in particular) such as taxation, defense, foreign policy, public expenditure, legislation changes etc.

So basically, in the Lok Sabha elections, you’re voting for the Prime Minister and the Group of people who’ll sit in New Delhi and not for whosoever will run your state or your city/town/village.

It is perfectly acceptable to have different loyalties depending on the position you are choosing for. Just as an example, (and please strictly as an example), if you’re fond of Narendra Modi but not of the entire BJP party, you may vote for Modi in the State elections in Gujarat but in the Lok Sabha elections, you may want to vote for the Congress at the centre.

If you are in one of those states where the third front has a very strong hold, then I guess, it gets a little tricky since a few of the third front parties are undecided at the time of going to elections; Makes perfect business sense for them. Keep all your options open and at the last minute, you know which party badly needs you and you dictate the terms in that case.

The other third front parties who have clearly laid out their preferences at the beginning of the elections are a much easier lot to evaluate. If they are with your choice of PM, Yes, if not then No. Though there is no guarantee that they’ll stick with their pre-election choice but then, as they say in the Chor bazaar Guarantee to life ki bhi nahin hai bhaiya!

I’m even surprised, how a few third front candidates or leaders (like Mayawati and Mulayam) can even think of becoming the next prime minister. Third fronts are mostly regional parties and a regional leader doesn’t really go well with the nation if put on the post of a prime minister. Further, he’s always on shaky ground since to become PM, he definitely has taken the support of a bigger and stronger party. Just like a mouse riding an elephant. The PM is at complete mercy of the larger party. Need proof – Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujaral – These are the third front PMs and none of them has ever been in power for more than two years, forget about the 5 year term.

Voting for independent candidates in Lok Sabha elections doesn’t make any sense, unless you’re a part of his family and his (almost improbable) win would mean bundles of cash for him if the scenario gets real close. Don’t tell me that this independent candidate will make a difference while voting for policy changes among 500 henchmen. No chance.

So, consider your options carefully. There is a 100 billion rupees being spent. Just imagine, how carefully you spend the next 1000 rupee note in your pocket, not getting it changed for a cigarette or a bottle of pepsi but instead hoarding it till something really important pops up. Now there are 10 crore of such notes being spent. Don’t you want to ensure, these are well spent. And yes, this is your money – your hard earned (well, not really hard earned for a few, but nevertheless still similarly prized) money.

Did I hear you say, you don’t pay taxes coz. you don’t earn enough so it is not your money? Well, If you don’t pay taxes, then this money is even more so yours, coz. those who pay taxes in our country are supposed to pay for their own medical, children’s education and transportation as well. But those, who do not pay taxes, they are the really important people in our country coz. all the public expenditure is supposed to happen for their betterment. So do not for one moment think that not paying taxes makes you any less important or this money as not yours.

If the local guy who is standing for MP, no matter how good he may be, if his party’s ideology doesn’t suit you, do not vote for him. He may be God himself but if he’s not supporting the party whose ideology you agree to, please do not vote for him.

This election is all about voting for your favorite PM and his council of ministers. Think of it like a reality contest like Indian Idol but the difference being every adult just gets one vote. So you don’t need to bother that the north east audience will flood the system with their smses and Pranab Mukherjee will become PM (Well, with the way things are going, he definitely has a chance, but not at least because of the north eastern smses).

Disclaimer: There could be a number of other issues which aren’t always very crystal clear when you decide on who to vote for. This is just an attempt to set your thinking on a proper path. Now the fact that the Congress doesn’t really sport a Prime Ministerial candidate before elections is daunting since you do not know who you are voting for. That is why I said, a faceless remote control operated by a member of the Gandhi family. You could take solace in her previous selection but the idea that one family’s whim rules the country doesn’t appear democratic to me. I mean, all the 100 billion rupees would appear to be wasted if that was to happen.

With the BJP, there may be other problems. I mean, you may like the concept of democracy that they have adopted since they at least appear to democratically nominate the Prime Ministerial candidate. But then a Prime Minister needs an army of ministers. Do you think, they have the right people for Finance, Railways, Foreign Policy, Defense etc. etc. I’m not disputing any of their candidates, just guiding your thoughts. If you think, they do, go ahead, vote for them.

Finally, the big Disclaimer. I’m not a student of Political Science. I’m just another moron trying to make sense out of the innumerable elections in my life. If you think, I’ve erred on facts please correct me as soon as possible so that I do not mislead the 3 and half readers of this blog. If however, you think I’ve erred on opinion, send me hate mail. I love it. (Almost poetic – “I love hate mail” Innit?)

Wishful Thinking: I really wish, that the parties would also suggest a tentative list of ministers that it plans to appoint for each portfolio before the elections so that the public can rate these individuals on merit for the job that they are looking forward to. And there can be a million suggestions like these but, this post is not about improvements or suggestions. It is only about how to make the most out of these 100 billion rupees in present conditions so I’ll stop this wishful thinking right here.

Go On, Make your sensible choice. Do not forget, there’s… (Nah, I’m now tired of repeating the figure so many times, but I’m sure you get the drift).

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