Elections turn into Democratic Festival
Whatever maybe the results of the recently held Assembly elections in 5 states, they have certainly registered a victory for Indian democracy in many sense. The outcome will certainly have an impact on the coming general elections in 2014. Nevertheless, the key is whether the momentum in favour of participatory democracy will be sustained or not.
Inflation, Corruption and Leadership
There is an all over rise in voting turnout. Though the increase of percentage in Madhya Pradesh is marginal, it is still better than the previous and definitely substantial for the thin voting in the first half of polling. Mizoram has voted slightly lesser than the previous elections still it is higher than the average voting, as usual. Chhattisgarh, which was most susceptible to low voter turnout due to Naxalite threat, set the tone with higher turnout. In Rajasthan, the enthusiasm was visible among voters with the confidence that every vote is going to make the difference. The real difference was visible in the conventionally apathetic Delhi voters who came in large numbers to vote. Barring few exceptions in Chhattisgarh, the polling was by and large peaceful. People queued up outside polling booths in large numbers. However the real cause of higher turnout is that the issues of inflation, corruption and leadership had made a right combination for chanelising the anti-Congress mood. Due to anti-corruption movement people were charged up against scandals and cover ups. Inflation had made the life miserable. And leadership of Narendra Modi has shown a ray of hope in this abysmal condition. The elections have clearly shown that if the right issues are raised in a right way and with provided constructive alternative, common people are ready to respond. The charismatic rise of Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi also reflects the similar trend. The wise voters of India who are the real heroes of this festival of democracy displayed that their vote is power and it is not sellable against money, liquor and pre-elections sops.
Election Commission turns voter friendly
The credit for this smooth conducting of elections should go to the Election Commission of India. Political parties and civil society organisations made special efforts to ensure maximum polling for different reasons. However, the initiatives of the Election Commission are commendable. This time, especially in Chhattisgarh and Delhi, the Commission not only took special efforts to ensure maximum registration of voters but also made the polling people friendly. The experiment of model booths really made them decorated for a function. The staff, including the police personnel, was very cordial. The electoral officers at the top level attended every complaint regarding discrepancy in voter’s identity. Computerised voters lists were used to validate voters at many places. Elderly and differently able voters were supported with eco friendly vehicles and wheel chairs. Every effort was made to make voting less cumbersome and empowering, so three cheers for Election Commission. We can hope that more friendly measures will be adopted throughout India in the coming elections.
Young guns fire everywhere
The young voters first time demonstrated their stakes in the democracy in the phase demographic dividend. In every State, a large number were newly registered voters and they voted with enthusiasm and festive mood. Each State saw above average voting by the youth voters of the age group from 18-28. The issue of clean and decisive politics has touched them and now there is a hope that there will be right combination of elderly wisdom and youthful enthusiasm in Indian politics.
Another record we can’t ignore
Besides the record of higher turnout, there are highest number cases registered regarding the violation of Model code of Conduct, especially in Delhi. In Delhi alone, the political parties registered unprecedented 346 cases against each other, out of which highest were against the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party. One reason maybe the nature of competitive politics emerging. Another can be the stricter implementation of code of conduct and continuous vigilance by 24X7 media. In any case it is evolving a new system of checks and balances for adhering to model code of conduct which is a good sign of democracy.
There is a huge scope for making elections ‘free and fair’. Minimising the influence of money and muscle power, ensuring proportional representation and reducing the reservations regarding the use of electronic voting machines need to be there in reforms agenda. Despite these deficiencies, it is matured sign that elections are turning into festivities with larger participation. —Bureau Report