Delhi Assembly Election 2013

India has seen hung Assembly or Parliament after a fractured electoral verdict in the past also, but the situation in Delhi after the declaration of the Assembly election results on 4th December 2013 is peculiar. It is so for two reasons: the indecisive Delhi voters’ mind; and the NOTA (None Of The Above) mentality. People in India generally don’t demonstrate full participation in the process of governance. They are so pampered that they expect the contestants to personally request them to take the trouble of walking up to the polling booth in the locality and cast their vote. They think voting is always in the personal interest of the contestants only, as they ask a question blatantly: what do I gain by voting? They refuse to exercise their mind on their participation and the quality of governance. They are swayed either by emotions of like or dislike or temptations of money and free booze and other goodies. Indian politics has used vote banks for political gains for long, but now the vote banks have started using political parties. The consequences of such unhealthy politics are suffered by the ordinary people (Aam Aadmi). Everybody talks of the poor and promises them food grains as cheap as @1 rupee a kilogram (though edible table salt is currently selling @ 24/-a kg), free electricity, free education, free health care, free laptops (this scam is going to bust shortly for in the packing of a laptop a tile of the same size and weight is slipped in to. Now you know the sudden love of the politician for free laptops for tens of thousands of students!).  The vulnerability of the poor is such that they have allowed themselves to be managed as a compromise with the system (which means accepting corruption as a way of life and voluntary participation). It worked well so long as the cities used to offer hope of better life for the village folk, who used to migrate to the cities in numbers that constituted less than 5% of the city population. The lopsided economic development, regional economic disparities, non availability of education, health care, drinking water, electricity, security etc outside city limits, coupled with increasing demand for construction and services etc has led to increase in these numbers. Taking the urbanization figure at 35% the arrivals in cities has changed the demographic picture. The early migrants used to go back to their villages for harvesting, but the later arrivals settled down in the cities. Poverty compelled them to encroach on public land. Ghettoes (called Jhuggi/jhonpadi) started appearing on the city landscape. Corruption created political opportunities for making huge illegal money by first patronizing them and then regularizing these illegal structures. It generated huge sums for the politician and his party, besides the other tangible gain of votes as a block to affect the outcome of elections.  Coupled with dirty communal and caste politics, vote banks or blocks ended up impeding the evolution of healthy democratic conventions in the country. The second generation of these deprived sections in cities have come face to face with corruption at every single walk in life, be it school admission or employment, issue of a ration card or voter identity card, medical facilities or bank loans. They have grown in the city’s prized localities like Lutyens Delhi, where their parents have been working for several decades as servants, gardeners or watchmen. They have seen the opulence of the business people in localities like Connaught place, Greater Kailash or Chandani Chowk and nursed aspirations to achieve something similar. They refuse to be managed like their parents. Confronted with the reality in life regulated by corruption, they seek change in the system so that they are also treated fairly and justly. The emergence of an Arvind Kejriwal or the Aam Aadmi Party owes it to these deprived urban poor, who have no other alternative but employment in the city itself or another place suiting their capabilities to relocate. It is different from the villages where the unemployed also don’t generally think of committing suicide as easily as the city youngsters do. The spectacular victory of the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) in the Delhi elections bagging 28 seats in a house of 70 members has attracted all round attention. Of the remaining, the Congress Party has managed to get only 8 seats and the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) another 32 seats. 2 seats have gone to others.

This mandate has wasted the election this time. There is little possibility of a stable government getting installed. The Congress has 4 muslim members and 4 others in their 8 MLAs. They as a party have been spreading communal venom against the BJP whom they are not going to support in formation of a government. The muslim MLAs of the Congress have been reared on a solid diet of communal rhetoric of the Congress and are unlikely to extend support to the BJP for government formation. The Congress has offered support to the AAP. But the AAP had declared  publicly, before the elections and after the elections, that they shall neither ask for support nor extend support to either the Congress or the BJP. It means none of the parties will be able to form a government. Hence vote seems to have gone waste this time. For this only the voters have to be blamed. They were expected to give a clear mandate to either the BJP or the AAP this time because of the terrible anger against the Congress Party and its corrupt & inefficient government. They adopted the casual attitude that will necessitate another election. The reason is that neither the BJP nor the AAP will go in for even collaboration for good governance in view of the Parliament elections due in early 2014. None of them wants to associate with the congress. The Congress, which has been spreading hatred and untouchability against parties like the BJP, has itself become untouchable today! Delhi can have a government formed by the single largest party for a few months only if the Lt. Governor of Delhi treats them like the President had treated the government formed by Charan Singh in 1979. But that is unlikely, for he is a nominee of the Congress and there is some purpose in putting him in that position even though it has failed to benefit them in the Delhi election.

Both the Congress and the BJP are taunting the AAP to form the government and redeem the promise to the voters to reduce the electricity tariff by 30% and free water supply etc. The AAP had released 70 different manifestos for the 70 seats and that gives enough room for taunting by their opposition. The AAP success is still being analyzed by political parties, but it is the support of the deprived migratory population, vote banks of all kinds, price rise, corruption and total lawlessness on the streets (rapes, chain snatchings, shooting, robbery etc) and the credibility of Arvind Kejriwal and his team which has given it so much success. The attempts to malign the 14 months old party did affect their prospects, but failed largely. People who voted against the Congress party (it barely managed to get  25% votes) didn’t want to waste their vote and hence opted for the BJP over the AAP. Public anger was so strong this election that they reduced the Congress Party to a pitiable third position in Delhi, where they had ruled for 15 years and their Chief Minister lost to Arvind Kejriwal by a margin of more than 25000 votes in New Delhi constituency, whose voters included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and all the high ranking politicians, MPs, Judges, Armed Forces officers, bureaucrats, businessmen, media persons etc. Arvind won the people’s trust by observing a fast unto death last year for almost 2 weeks in Delhi for enactment of the Janlokpal Bill, was educated in the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, served as Income Tax  Joint Commissioner, and now a social activist, runs an NGO “Parivartan”, and a Magsaysay awardee. His movement under the banner of IAC (India Against Corruption) brought him in the lime light only in 2011. He stands for transparency, honesty and integrity in the government and delivery of public service. He blames both the Congress and the BJP for the political and economic conditions of the country and promises to rid the country of corruption and provide good governance. People are wondering how he could achieve so much in such a short span, forgetting the reasons highlighted in the foregoing. Some media channels are also calling it to be the first time wonder!

It is, however, no first time wonder. Way back in 1967 the Congress was defeated in 9 states, where the SVD (Samyukta Vidhayak Dal) governments were formed. In 1974 an agitation by the youth started from Gujarat against corruption. The Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution) movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan led to irreversible change in the political functioning in the country. The implementation of the report of the Mandal Commission has changed the country’s politics for ever. The insincerity to the constitution of India by the political class since then has brought the country where it stands today. The youth that has risen whole heartedly for the India Against Corruption is the post Mandal generation, which has seen firsthand how corruption operates, regulates and rules their lives and destinies. It is a generation that finds no way to achieve what they want, what they deserve and what they aspire. They want their rights. The political class gives them welfare doles, subsidies and concessions instead as a gesture of generosity or even mercy. Even the beneficiaries of the Mandal Commission compete with the others in distributing such largesse. Subsidy bills are rising, but where the subsidies are going is not known. The target groups don’t get much, but others swindle major chunk of these subsidies. If honestly carried out, an audit will result in mass reduction of subsidies (like bogus voters or ration card holders). At state levels similar change of governments had taken place as in Assam, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal etc. The success in Delhi was made possible by several other invisible factors like the level of education, national capital, cosmopolitan culture, Law & Order administered by the central government leaving little space for local politicians to paralyze police functioning etc. These advantages are not available in other places, where more violence than non-violence rules over everything. But the voters in the country will have to act responsibly and give a clear mandate to the party of their choice rather than throwing up hung houses every time, encouraging horse trading. Electing a government is not playing with dolls- one has to act sensibly and responsibly. Election results determine for the next five years whether we live a happy and comfortable life or a life full of misery as under the Congress government at the centre and regional parties in the states.

The Delhi voters must decide in advance which party they wish to form the government, because they have to exercise their vote once again. There is no room for indolence. Delhi has to participate more vigorously in the activities of governance, from elections to formation of a transparent government and actual running. Any latitude in this regard will give the undesirable politicians to take advantage of the situation. We must welcome the change that is at our doorsteps.

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