Democracy, a system evolved to empower every single individual with the power to determine the direction of governance. The system is a golden opportunity to equalise the importance of every person in the ruling predisposition. The most sacred act of this system involves the expression of one’s choice for leadership and its called elections. Elections are the best possible way to select the profile most suited to adorn the next leader.
A free and fare election, election based on choice coming out of free will, election under no prejudice or influence, a choice for a better tomorrow. One has to agree there cannot be a better way to take our democracy forward. But like every system there is always a threat for anarchy, and the threat looms large today.
Let’s look at it from an independents point of view not wearing caps of any color. Let’s look at the level to which the political discourse has shifted today. To begin with elections are supposed to be independent of religion, caste and language, something which is guaranteed by the election Commission. What’s happening in our city is exactly the opposite, today we are openly aligning ourselves on religious lines, caste is a prerequisite and the carrot of becoming a separate religion is out in the open. Look at the campaign trails of any party, outs not the tri color in the hand, its with the party flag and an additional color, saffron or green, are these flags instilling any virtues, no they are just expressions of religious identities, then how is the campaigning free of religion undertones. Go around the city and you can hear complains of missing labourers , where have they gone , well not working, they are in election rallies earning some two hundred for every session with free lunch and dinner. People followed their leader came out to support and show solidarity. Today is not a show is a show off, the bigger the crew the more the appeal, who cares for individual opinions, so you just buy the volunteers and there is no need for volunteering service, actually can we call them volunteer, they are in my view paid employees.
You go around questioning the party chiefs on the process of choice of candidates and you are told its based on the winnability, and what determines that, well the amount of capital they can invest, the level of controversies he or she can generate and yes importantly how much money they can give the party as party funds, where are the ethics and why are we harping on a corruption free discourse. For the candidates irrespective of their political affiliation, elections are an investment, you can buy votes with money, with gifts and sometimes even with cinema tickets, is this not demeaning the very purpose of the election. A person who invests so much will want returns and where will be or she get it from is anyone’s guess. Yet the greed for money is much greater than the need for good work. Land grabbing, drugs, smuggling are today legitimate routes to leadership, unfortunate is it not.
Then there is the fourth estate, expected to be in biased in their attitude, I don’t find one doing it today, it’s only their personal choices that are presented on front pages. I don’t blame the media, we are so frenzied that if some news that we want is not printed we threaten to boycott the media and expect every news to be on lines expected by us. There is no freedom of press nor is there an attempt by the media to do unbiased reporting.
The division that this election is creating, brother against brother, Hindu against Muslim, Kannada against Marathi and no party can say that it is not guilty, these rifts that the political spin masters are creating I fear will leave scars for a long time. Election will be over but will we be able to mend our relations with the political discourse going to the worst possible levels. How will we respect these leaders who have risen not by uniting but by dividing the people. I am not worried of the political class they will make their bucks, I am worried of the simple lay persons like me who fears there is no scope to have a second opinion. Is dividing and inciting the only way to win elections, then is it not a shame and what gives our leaders a right to claim a high moral ground.
Walk in the streets today and you will see differences in preferences, its actually healthy till it comes to a point where there can be no alternative opinion, you are either with us or against us, no third opinion, is this not asphyxiation of democracy.
I have only one concern, getting my brothers and sisters back together, the political class will disappear after the fifteenth but not the differences they leave behind. I am in search of a person who will try to patch up and heal the scars left by elections. I am yet to see my city to take a stand that elections will not divide us. When we advertise and say let’s take voting to a hundred percent, we forget that people don’t vote because, they either feel disgruntled by the process or the choice of candidates. I am from a generation which lived and loved Belgaum, where we shared our biryani and faral, where Hindus give tilgul to Muslims and Muslims apply color to Hindus. Let elections be a display of intelligence in choice of a leader and not a herd mentality to follow the most visible. I wish we can reclaim our city from the theatrics and tricks and apply a soothing balm so we can live our lives together again and do away with these cracks that have surfaced in the progress of our political discourse. Let’s vote a hundred percent for our best choice, but for God’s sake let’s forget the differences and not demean each other to a point of no return.