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!

Aamjunta (Re)Actions: “Lessons or Atma-manthan”

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.

John F. Kennedy

The recent Indian Lok Sabha elections have been trend setting in a unique way. Actually, it was aamjunta who was victorious in the last election against nefarious combinations and opportunistic alliances. It was the win of individuals who have actually “worked” against the arm-chair media savvy election campaign policies of parties. For almost the first time, aamjunta voted for people rather than parties.

Now, the election drama and mudslinging at each other is over! For many of us the election results were beyond our expectations. But, if you analyze from a very close angle, you can sense that the results were obvious. The common man or the aamjunta has done the right job by choosing people whom they see working for their society or their community. Of course, this time too there were manipulations, but which political agency doesn’t manipulate?

Every political party uses its influence through the state machinery; some time wins, some time loses badly. The hunger for power never diminishes. In the name of democracy and ideology, family members fight with each other for the same seat. The reason – it is an election between political parties, and for them, bringing power “home” at any cost is of foremost importance. The seat should go to their own family member, no matter which part he/she belongs to and does not matter who wins the race. Politics has become dynastic in nature.

Going down the memory lane ……

It was a by-poll in the Laxmipur assembly segment of Koraput in Odisha, some time in the mid nineties. Two brothers were contesting; the younger one had a Janata Dal ticket and the elder one on a Congress ticket. Both of them were staying together, and had a single Mahindra Jeep for election campaigning. With Biju Patnaik’s photo in the morning and with Indiraji’s photo in the evening, both brothers managed to campaign and divide people. Front side of their house was the Congress office and rear was Janata Dal‘s office. Campaigning ended peacefully, but the election did not. There were violence during the election and at least 5 people died on the election day. But, for whom and for which political ideology these people fought with each other and lost their lives? Ultimately, power had to be in the family, the brothers had great understanding among themselves, but because of their personal power-hunger 5 innocent civilians lost their lives. One of them ruled, while the other expanded his business in the constituency of the brother, whereas the aamjunta suffered.

Things have changed a bit today. Awareness has gone up. E-campaigning has taken a big stage, mobile campaigning is the tool now. One would be astonished to see Advaniji’s Photo and a message “whom do you want to see as a strong PM?, vote for BJP and L. K. Advaniin Dawn’s (leading Pakistan Daily) on-line news portal. Getting SMS… very common at least 1/2 SMS in a day came to cell-phones prior to elections; some times I wonder “what happens to the Supreme Court’s Directive and TRAI’s observations?” Do the political parties and their SMS campaigning not come under these directives and observations? Some one should file a PIL on this.

With IPL-2 in parallel, election campaigning did not come to as much lime-light as it used to be. Even then, the hate-love speech of Varun Gandhi and Sanjay Dutt, fasting of Karunanidi, Desh ki samman of Advani, anti-Computer-cum-English (i)literacy of Mulayam Singh, Jai Ho of Congress, Manus of Raj, played an interesting role during the time. Election went off smoothly, with some Maoist attacks and violence in between. But, overall, it was smooth. And on the voting day – some people enjoyed voting in the queue and majority…. enjoyed the holidays. In Mumbai, it was a 4-day holiday, resulting in a 44% voting turn out; the worst was in South Mumbai though 😦

Like every time, this time also, I had decided to spend the day in front of the TV Set for counting. But, at the final moments did not feel like wasting my time. Went back to work instead. In most places, the results were as expected. The win of Congress or loss of BJP, did not create enough interest in me. What I could see was very clear, “the aamjunta has won, voted not the right party but the right person at the right place“. For example in Mumbai- all seven seats were won by Congress-NCP coalition. The in-fight in Senas and rise of MNS has spoiled the chances of the winning of Sena-BJP combine. BJP was the worst loser in this. They should have sensed this result long back; when bhaiyas were beaten up in platforms and thrown out of trains. Congress did not arrest Raj, Senas supported the movement and the BJP was a mute spectator. And the result – the hate of bhaiyas for the Sena-BJP combination was on rise, affected the result, not only in Mumbai, but also in UP and Bihar. On a lighter note, let me ask – who is representing Manus of Mumbai in Delhi? Bhaiyas or Manus? All the winners in Mumbai have north-Indian links. BJP as well as the Sena have to realize this. BJP especially has to act as a national party and not have the bias of a regional party. Unless they act/react at the right moment, others have and will always take away the ship.

In UP, whether someone accepts or not, the hate-love speeches had an impact on the vote share. Interestingly, Kalayan Singh’s dal-badlu at the last moment, Behenji’s dalit ki beti ka nara, jhappi-ya-pappi of Sanjy Dutt did not have much impact on the result. And with BJP – how can some one believe of “Ram Mandir ki nara” in the 21st century? Do they think the aamjunta is a fool, does not understand their politics of divide and rule? Common man understands that there is no point in fighting for political leaders and parties, because ultimately it is the common man who suffers, neither the parties nor politicians. This common man’s shops, shanties and slums and lives are at risk during communal or social violence. We are made puppets who dance at the tunes of politicians and ultimately put fire into our own homes. So, this time if their leaders can change their parties because their sons and daughters are not getting tickets, then why can’t aamjunta not change their votes? Moreover, why should they support some people who could not fight for their cause in Mumbai and other places. The public sentiment has to be understood by the parties. Indian electorate is slowly coming of age. Right steps at the right time is more important.

Congress too should not get overwhelmed with the results too. They won, not because they deserve, but because of the shear frustration of the aamjunta on the action and reaction of others and also because aamjunta was afraid of a new deadly coalition and post-poll pathetic jod-tod or alliances. The reaction was more against horse trading after elections rather than parties per say.

It is true that local problems and local issues have a big impact on the elections. Regional parties use this to lure the voters and make a good business out of it at the center. Some times they succeed, some times not. Let us discuss from north to south. The grand alliance of LJP and RJD was a costly affair. LJP got wiped out and RJD managed to save 4 out of 40. (Un)Fortunately Paswanji has to sit idle this time without any ministry and Laluji’s train got de-railed. Their betrayal of Congress was a costly affair. In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress and Congress combination has brought some hope after 40 years. Didi can now dream of becoming the future CM. But, on her way to the CM’s chair, she has created Singurs and Nandigrams with the help of Communists. Both the parties have to be blamed for this.

Down the line, in Odisha, BJP have lost the ground. Their big mistake was taking BJD as a casual partner. In politics, nothing is casual, no one is a friend and no one is an enemy. Their mismanagement and failure in negotiating with BJD costed them the worst in this election. With some 6 odd seats (from 32 in 2004), in the Bidhan Sabha and zero in the Lok Sabha, how do they dream of ruling that state? Their other blunder was communaliztion of Kandhamal. Interestingly, they won 2 out of 3 assembly segments there, but lost all over the state. Not only that, the impact of Kandhamal was heard in southern states like Kerla and Tamil Nadu, north-eastern states like Manipur, Sikkim, Assam and others. Unless they come out from this mind-set and ideology, I doubt… many prime ministers in waiting will come and go from BJP; will be dropped at the queue.

Further South, BJP did not get a friend in Andhra Pradesh. Chiru’s Praja Rajyam (rule of the subjects) has cerated the spoil for them. The Praja Rajyam not only blocked TDP from the power race, but also blocked BJP from creating a base in south. With two people’s fight, the third person wins; so does the Congress. Further south, every one wanted to become the messiah of Tamil cause in Sri Lanka. Karunanidhi’s certificate to Prabhakaran, Vaiko’s open support, Subramanian Swamy’s comment, Jayalalithaa’s u-turn on Tamil issue made not only furore during the election, but also changed the history and statistics in Tamil Nadu’s election. Congress and DMK got a face save, AIDMK rose from the last time dust bite. But, like every election, this time the incumbency did not have any impact. BJP lost every thing, neither AIDMK nor DMK was with them. Similar drama was seen in Kerla. The left got a massive blow, may be that was the nuclear (bomb) blow.

The states like Gujurat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Chatisgarh, Jharkhand and some extent in Maharastra the BJP has got a face saving, whereas in Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerla, the entire north-east, and Rajasthan (their one time gad or durg or fort ) it got wiped out. In most of the states, they lost to regional parties, with whom they had seat sharing before. BJPs “media-savy” central leadership did not have proper coordination with the state leadership. Result: complete failure. Like BJP, the lefts also had a miss in both West Bengal and Kerla. No one other than their party caders should be blamed for their poor performances. The ghosts of Singur and Nandigram are not letting them go as before.

And the congress, rose from a nil to 20+ in UP, from no where to power in West Bengal and Kerla, from a miss to hit in Rajasthan and 100% in Mumbai and Delhi. What else? Somewhere they won on their own, some where they won because of their friends, and some where they won because of the in-fights of their rivals. On the other hand, the biggest loser in the tally is the BSP. They fought some 500+ seats all over the country, but managed to get only 20+ seats. With that number also, their leader dreams of becoming the PM of the country. Interestingly, every one in India now is interested in becoming the PM, starting from Sharad Powar to Arjun Singh, Pranab Mukharejee to AK Antony, Mayawati to Mulayam Singh, LK Advani to Narendra Modi, Lalu Prasad to Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan to Deva Gauda... every body was in the race. In fact, even Jaspal Bhatti and Shekhar Suman were also Prime Ministerial candidates… 🙂 Hmmm, but, finally Manmohan Singh sworn-in as the PM.

Anyway, the elections are over, the results are out, and swearing in ceremony is over. Many are doing in political terminology “atma-manthans” now. Better luck next time 🙂

Aamjunta, watch it, keep an eye and judge properly next time too.

PS: There are certain terms which form a part of political lingo of India that have been used in this article. The author documents these terms without any offence to the general readers.

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