Election in Karnataka: a Semi-final or Practice Match before the next General Election!

It is Election Day tomorrow (5th May, 2013) for the State Assembly of Karnataka, India.

The country as a whole is struggling with corruption, rape and murder cases. One should not be surprised to know that Karnataka too is not far behind from the national average. The significant rise in criminal cases particularly in the city of Bangalore and mega corruption, mis-governance, routine in-fights in Parties and poor infrastructure are the major worries of the common man or aamjunta. Election in Karnataka is also important due to IT-industry’s presence in Bangalore. Every political party is definitely looking for a share – major or minor, that time will say. With General Election due in 2014, remember, the election in Karnataka may be the semi-final or a high temper practice match for all major political parties. No political party wants to lose; their fate lies in the hands of aamjunta.

Lets see how the major political Parties are talking about this Election-

Congress: Party chief Sonia Gandhi in an election rally at Gulbarga said that the “BJP Government has looted Karnataka and incited communal feelings”. In addition, she further lamented the BJP’s record on communal harmony by saying “we have always believed in communal harmony and are against forces which disrupt communal harmony.”

BJP: Star campaigner of BJP, Narendra Modi blasted at the UPA’s foreign policy and  criticized the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi. Apart from this, the other campaigners of BJP including the current Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar have been talking about the level of good governance the Party has delivered in the past and deploring the UPA for its corruption at the central level and step-motherly treatment in case of distribution of  Cauvery water and allocation of central funds to Karnataka.

JDS: Both the father-son duo, ex-PM Deva Gowda and Kumar Swamy have been talking about a clean and transparent government, ruling out dynasty in politics.

KJP: B S Yeddyurappa formed the KJP with two aims – to ensure BJP’s loss and be a part of the next government if the situation arises, such that  legal cases against him can be handled without any major drama or hassle. He too has been promising for a clean and transparent government and is ready to provide financial support to all religious places; all, which he could not do while he was in power.

But, what is ultimately going to rule the election?

Simple answer to most of the questions – “MCR” : Money, Caste and Religion PowerCritics and analysts say that any thing in the range of Rs 700/- to Rs 10,000/- is being spent per vote by many of the candidates. On an average, some of the candidates are reportedly spending more than Rs 30 crores per constituency.

This kind of bribing existed in the 2008 election too. After analysing the affidavits of 347 candidates who contested the 2008 Karnataka elections and are contesting this time too, the recent report disclosed by the Karnataka Election Watch indicates that in the last five years, their average asset increased over 72% (Rs 12.62 crore or so) !! It clearly shows that indeed politics is a very profitable business.

Caste is also playing major role in Karnataka politics. All political parties are busy in appeasing the voters of two major castes in Karnataka – The Lingayats and the Vokkaligas, comprising nearly 18% and 13% of the state’s electorate respectively. This divides Karnataka into northern and southern power bases.

Religion too plays a major role in Karnataka politics. Both the majorities and minorities are being lured in the process. All parties have promised to give special packages to religious activities; however, in reality it may not be true in future. Appeasing the minors or the other backward classes is quite apparent.

Muscle power too is holding some of the reigns of this Karnataka election. While the Congress has filed 55 candidates with criminal charges, the BJP is not far behind with 48. When the entire country is struggling with rising rape cases and sexual abuses or harassments, there are 2 ‘contesting’ candidates from the KJP with pending rape cases against them !

While every candidate is fighting for a win, political analysts term this election as the “Semi-final for 2014”. A win by BJP in Karnataka will definitely boost the morale of Narendra Modi’s candidature for the next Prime Minister, and a loss by BJP will augment the doubt on BJP’s ability to retain power outside its traditional political base in the north and hence, become a stumble for its run up to the 2014 National polls.

If Congress wins tomorrow’s election in Karnataka, it will definitely brush up the party’s image ahead of 2014 National elections and lift its sagging spirits; it may also alleviate an anti-Congress mood prevalent in most parts of the country mainly because of rising corruption, incidents of rape and meek or poor bilateral issues with our neighbouring countries. It may lead to early National elections too.

On a different note, a win by JDS will definitely increase the speculation of the formation of a 3rd Front in the next National election.

Irrespective of whoever comes to power, all the above factors will play major roles in the government and the governance. With rising corruption at the Centre and in many States, it looks like there is no solution of this particular issue in a single day. Like cancer, it has already spread to the roots of our system, our existence, our daily lives. Very often, we do not have an option but to pay bribes, small or big, if we need to get our work done smoothly or quickly, or done at all ! Such bribes are sometimes labelled in sugar-coated terms like ‘commission’ or ‘chai-pani’ (refreshments), mostly to stay away from legal implications. Though it is hard to accept, it is a fact. With corruption largely being a moral issue, Law Enforcement agencies have always found it hard to eradicate it through either use of force or preventive surveillance.

The worst thing happens when the common man, the aamjunta or the voter becomes corrupt. If our votes are sold to these corrupt leaders for a selfish, baseless favour or meagre cash or a bottle of wine or freebies, then whom can we blame ?

Jaago aamjunta, jaago… the wake-up call to the electorate…

This is the right time to show our strength, and make the system clean and strong. Let’s cast our precious vote not under the influence of “MCR” – Money, Caste and Religion, rather on our own conviction – a conviction that is largely based on morals and right knowledge. We need to do something substantial, which will make our life rewarding and us worthy aamjunta; not an useless and corrupt aamjunta. Let’s respect our dignity, our state and our country. The choice is definitely ours !!! It is not that far … just couple of hours more!!

Jai Hind!

Short-Term-Memory-Loss !!

“Earlier, the Bofors was a talking point. People forgot about it. Now it is coal. This too will be forgotten. Once hands are washed off coal, they again become clean.”

– Union Home -Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Pune, 15th September, 2012

Does he really mean that we all Indians have short-term-memory only? Whether he is right or wrong, that will be proved in the due course of time in 2014 and in subsequent elections, but I would like to remind him and many others like him, that we do not forget, may forgive… and here is a small list for their information and aamjunta’s notice.

Black Money

As per the recent statement given by the CBI Director, Indians have an estimated $500 billion of illegal funds in foreign tax havens, more than any other country. Other media reports claim that the total black money exceeding $1.4 trillion are stashed in Switzerland alone. Whose money is this and who are the beneficiaries — politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, real-estate mafias or gundas? Even with Supreme Court’s intervention the Government neither provides the list and amount, nor ensures transparency in the investigations. They only bring white papers… 😦 Does it not show how weak our system is ? If yes, then we need a drastic change in our administrative policies to check such unaccounted transactions, negating the economic-position of India !

Coalgate

Coalgate or Coal Allocation Scam is a multi-party scam involving PMO directly and indirectly, MPs of multiple parties, bureaucrats, corporate biggies and many more. As per CAG’s estimation and argument, the inefficient and malafide intentions behind the coal block allocation resulted in Rs. 185, 591 crore ($33.59 billion) “windfall gain” to the allocatees. With the highest amount, it became to be known as the mother-of-all-scams ! While the BJP-led opposition is gunning for the government, PMO in particular and the UPA managers led by Kapil Sibbal in general, have been hitting out at the CAG, incumbent and ex- Chief Ministers (CMs) of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. While arguing against CAG’s report on policy making, the government should also remember that wrong policies with malafide intentions, inefficient and slow decisions can be more harmful and disastrous for the country. Kapil Sibbal may deny that no one benefited from the coal block allocation, and Congress Party may again bring the zero-loss theory, but it can never prove itself clean. Other parties too are involved; not just Congress is to be blamed. Moreover, if their claim that coal allocation was scam-free, then why the CBI is filing FIRs after FIRs and why is the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) busy in de-allocating coal blocks ? With Supreme Court of India having taken the coal-allocation issue seriously, it would be no wonder if you see ministers and bureaucrats in jail very soon.

2G Spectrum Allocation

Kapil Sibbal’s Zero Loss theory was again proved wrong by the Supreme Court of India and Dr. Subramanian Swamy… an estimated loss of Rs. 176,645 crore ($31.97 billion) is not at all a small amount for a country struggling with poverty and malnourishment. While the Supreme Court declared allotment of spectrum as “unconstitutional and arbitrary“, and quashed all the 122 licenses issued in 2008 during the tenure of Mr. A. Raja, it further said that A. Raja “wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer” and “virtually gifted away important national asset” ! Are Raja and his bureaucrats to be blamed alone ? Definitely no. The then Finance Minister and the PM too are to be blamed equally. In addition, the PM must be answerable for the failure of his office to take appropriate action against the culprits. According to Time Magazine, 2G Spectrum Scam leads the number two position on their  “Top 10 Abuses of Power” list. 

CommonWealth Games

Though it was a matter of prestige to host international sporting events like the CommonWealth Games in India, it became a national shame due to corruption and malafide intentions of our politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and corporations. The total value of the estimated scam in this is Rs 70,000 crore!! In a country where more than 40 crore people live below the “official poverty line” of Rs 32/- per-day income, can we forget and forgive the culprits? The question arises in such situations – “Who is to be blamed” ? The Government, of course – the then Sports Ministry and the PMO, which is directly or indirectly involved. With concerns at national and international level, how do we say that the the game was a success and India has the power to host games of Olympic standard in future ?

Land and Housing Scams

Grabbing Government land, and House/Flats meant for the poor and needy people is not new in India. It was there before independence by Jamindars or Land Lords, and now by the politicians, gundas and bureaucrats. However, the point what hurts most is grabbing the land used for religious activities, and flats meant for war-heroes or their families and poor people in the name of :

  • Adarsh Housing Society Scam: Though the government land was allocated for the construction of a housing complex for “the welfare of serving and retired personnel of the Defence Services“, over the years top politicians (3 ex-Chief Ministers and many more ministers figure in CBI’s list), bureaucrats (Senior IAS Officers) and military officers (of GOC and Brigadier Rank) bent several rules and committed various acts of omission and commission in order to have the building constructed and then got themselves allotted flats in this premier property at artificially lowered prices in their own name or relatives’ names..

  • Karnataka Wakf Board ScamAlmost 50% of its land has been misappropriated by politicians and board members, in collusion with the real estate mafia for a fraction of its market value; alleged misappropriation amount of Rs 200,000 crore ($36.2 billion).

And the list continues….. Bofors scam, Fodder scam, Karnataka Mining scam, Cash-for-Votes scam, National Health scam and many more !!

Like Sanjay Singhania (Amir Khan) of Ghajini movie…. with short-term-memory-loss,we Indians also keep a note that ensures a long-term-memory. Moreover, the point what aamjunta would like to bring here to the notice of fellow aamjuntas and to the Politicians of this country is very simple :

We are not to be taken for granted for all the misdeeds, corruptions, communal violence and regionalism; when time comes we will show what we can do. We have done it before with many corrupt politicians and national traitors… The power of an ‘aware’ electorate can change the course of a nation’s history. The key to root out all such vices lies in spreading ‘Social Awareness’ among the masses. Then, who knows what is stored in 2014 !!!

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