Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Assembly Polls – Kya Khoya, Kya Paya!

A new book titled Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith by Andrew Preston has just found its way among bibliophiles. The book tries to ascertain political hues of America being mingled with religion with respect to its foreign policy. So be it Abraham Lincoln during Civil War or Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the course of second World War, they tried to cling on to the vine of religion.

Political manifesto in case of India has similarly fallen on the lines of caste, religion being just one of the other deciding factors. Assembly elections 2012 in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa were an eye-opener not only for the tamashbeen (spectator) but also for the tamashaiyee (players) themselves, the politicos. Sudden frenzy was created on the eve of counting by the CNN-IBN-THE WEEK-CSDS Poll Survey which projected Mulayam Singh led Samajwadi Party (SP) to come out with flying colors in the assembly elections. While the projections speculated SP to turn out victors with estimated 232-250 seats, its rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was predicted to hit the low with a dismal 60-70 seats, Congress and BJP were obviously left to fight for the third notch in one of the largest states of the country.

The poll survey and the subsequent results that followed which were not far from speculations affirmed a lot many contentions. Firstly the regional parties have managed to build a stronghold in the entire terrain by bringing together respective members of castes under one umbrella alluring the masses via all sorts of popsicle, the national parties such as BJP and Congress need to sit down and ponder upon how to decrease the distance between their party booths and the jhopdi (hut) of a village dweller. Disenchantment from coalition politics and bidding farewell to fractured mandate seems to have been the ingrained notion amongst the nearly 60% who came out to cast their votes.

The second lesson comes in for the BSP that has portrayed itself from the days of its inception as the patrons of the Dalits. Unfortunately it is this group comprising of Kori, Dhobi, Pasi and most importantly Jatavas that has been consolidated by BSP as their crucial vote bank. Men and women belonging to these communities have faced humiliation being inflicted on them through generations; they witnessed the brutalities of the NMM (Nara Maweshi Movement) and henceforth have risen up as a politicized group in Uttar Pradesh. While little has been done for the uplift of this social block that seems to draw immense pride from the gigantic parks and statues erected throughout the state of its revered leaders, they were even happy with the token gesture of Kanshiram Aawas Yojana, BSP leader Mayawati drew further flak with NRHM scam doing the rounds. Cleansing act of tainted ministers didn’t do any good as also the ‘Sarvajan’ motto lost its sheen in this election season.

The third lesson is definitely for Congress especially in the wake of recent entertaining antics done by its prospective Prime Ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi. In its August edition, the Caravan magazine known for its unique genre of descriptive journalism had done a feature story on the IYC (Indian Youth Congress) and the zealous efforts of the members of this wing who bore ambition of putting the parent body back on track. What began with a bang right from the Bhatta-Parsaul incident ended up in a fizzle when its senior members like Salman Khurshid riled the Election Commission with his erroneous comments on quota for minorities, Beni Prasad Verma flared it all up with his pratfall, hinting towards a plausible Congress-BSP alliance.

Perhaps the Congress would be introspecting on ‘the house we blew down together’ at any of its forthcoming party meetings. Rahul Gandhi must be busy scratching his head what went wrong, he ate food at the poor man’s house, Rs. 6234-crore package was hurled as a bounty at the weavers (which in fact proved to be a pittance compared to their woes in the form of large amount of debts they owed to private money-lenders), tore the manifesto of SP at a rally yet failed to take the voter into his confidence. You see Mr. Gandhi those were the days of the 70s when sturdy and an aggressive Amitabh Bachan delivered adrenaline pumping stunts in his movies much to the delight of his audience, this is 2012 and the aam aadmi wants more than ‘zara sochiye’ campaign, it seems pragmatic that more than the janta (public) you need to do more thinking out there! A final word of caution to Mrs. Priyanka Vadera would be trying and stop enamoring with her graceful saris, even the Raibareilly-walas are no longer fascinated by it and try and do some substantive field-work round the year instead of last minute halla-bol-kind-of-romp!

Guess the dynasty politicos now turned into pariah would surely be mulling over BSP candidate Vedram Bhati giving a sharp defeat to his Congress counterpart, Dhirendra Singh in Jewar constituency that encompasses Bhatta & Parsaul villages. The fourth and last lesson is lying in store even for the winners, the Samajwadi Party that stunned the nation by claiming control over as many as 224 seats. Though they have rode back successfully to the inroads of the UP Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) on Kranti Rath, as also relying heavily on the M+Y (Muslim & Yadav) factor, hope it doesn’t fall prey to H+G (Hooliganism & Goondaraj) factor!

Moving over to the state which is often showcased in movies as the one with profound natural wealth, the lahlahate khet (green fields) being a symbol of utter prosperity. Punjab also bears the blot of being the bed of Khalistan movement in the 70s only to be stamped down by Operation Bluestar, the state gave strong jingoistic vibes in a bid to stand with the man known to the world by the name of Bhindranwale. What surprised everyone in case of Punjab was the return of the incumbent, the SAD (Shiromani Akali Dali) & BJP alliance. Mind you this is again a very sensitive territory where political frequency changes as one moves across the Malwa, Doaba and Majha region respectively.

Though the rebellious nephew of Prakash Singh Badal and leader of PPP (People’s Party of Punjab) Manpreet Badal seemed to be a potential threat yet all those thunderous claims seem nothing more than snowballs to play around with. What adds on to the EQ (entertainment quotient) is the deliberate mum kept by Dera Saccha Sauda that possesses the ability to tilt the mandate through its vast number of followers. One thing is for sure, the Atta-dal scheme launched by Mr. Badal in 2007 on the occasion of 61st year of independence might not have changed the fate of the initiating party, the Congress it has surely brought in sweet fruits of not-so-much labor for SAD.

A sobbing and disgruntled Congress has two consolation prizes in the form of Uttarakhand and Manipur. Though, the tussle between Harish Rawat and the party regarding the selection of Vijay Bahuguna as the CM might have left a bitter taste of that dessert. As far as Manipur is concerned, one wonders if it would be worth celebrating for the 126-year old party. Not that I’m undermining the proposition of the state in any manner if only the newly sworn-in CM Mr. Okram Ibobi Singh can ensure that a devastating situation like that of the 120-day economic blockade won’t recur. By the way does anyone across the board care enough to reach out to Irom Sharmila with a morsel of food, she’s been fasting for the past eleven years and has been charged by the state for attempt to suicide!

The concerned court in Russia has dismissed the case to put a ban on Bhagvad Gita, what a wonderful occasion for the saffronites to celebrate. Barring the Goa victory which also seemed to be out of the blue moon, the RSS backed national party has otherwise few reasons to smile these days.  You see the entire troupe of signors is busy craving for issues, coming up with dynamically bold slogans such as ‘at the stroke of midnight hour when the world slept, India awoke to a fraud being played on its parliamentary democracy’, ew! That was during the Lokpal hungama! CM sahab, Manohar Parrikkar has a mammoth task at hand- not only managing the state and building a long-lasting good image of the party but also deal with the menace of illegal mining that made the headlines lately.

Undoubtedly 2012 has brought with it a time that coerces the political parties of India to delve into ‘Kya khoya, kya paya’ moment. In between the rough-and-tumble of numbers and analysis of vote banks lies the harsh reality, whether it is cycle ki sawari or hathi ki sawari, the voter wants to ride for sure unstoppably!

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