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Post-election blues

Post-election blues
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Highlights

Lok Sabha elections are done as far as the Telangana voters are concerned. Crores of them have listened to the politicians, their claims and counter-claims, witnessed direct and proxy skirmishes in pursuit of power, and, hopefully, cast their vote – for money, in good faith, or just to feel like a citizen for the day.

Lok Sabha elections are done as far as the Telangana voters are concerned. Crores of them have listened to the politicians, their claims and counter-claims, witnessed direct and proxy skirmishes in pursuit of power, and, hopefully, cast their vote – for money, in good faith, or just to feel like a citizen for the day.

There was lukewarm response in some of the areas as many decided not to vote in this round, despite the grandiose propaganda of the State Electoral Officer, "No voter left out".

This was perhaps inevitable just after the assembly election where some 22 lakh voters were dropped from the voters' list, after suspending the voter verification mid-way to conduct the election in a hurry to suit the ruling political party though there was enough time to complete the verification process, allowing a freehand to the "caretaker" government to exercise full powers over the police and regulatory agencies to play havoc with political opposition, and finally the State Chief Electoral Officer apologising publicly. The SCEO has not covered himself with glory by ensuring that there was no level playing field.

What followed this "election" was worse. The post-2014 scenario got reactivated with elected and unelected senior opponents of the ruling party crossing over to it. Effectively, there are no opposition parties in States like Telangana.

There is no clearer message to the voter than this to convey that the politicians are bound by economic bonds that are thicker than blood. It is clearly politician vs the people.

Since December when the assembly elections were held in Telangana to the Lok Sabha elections now, in media columns, it is as though people's lives have gone into suspended animation to pay full attention to the political drama of electoral politics.

It was somehow a life or death issue to know which politician will jump the fence, will it be before or after the election than what they really stood for, if anything.

One thing that this election and the political process laid bare this time around is that there is just one force that drives the typical politician – money. That single factor can, if not today soon enough, keep them at the centre of the game of thrones.

Despite the punditry of experts, caste, community and religion are disposable identities that bend before hard tangible money. The only men and women who have access to such money on large enough scale in any state are the various mafias – sand, granite, liquor, real estate, infrastructure, trafficking, education, health – the list is endless.

It is this unregulated, rampant looting of natural resources like the river beds, rocks, minerals, forests that is driving our political system, and not the democratic ideals laid out in the Constitution. No politician today takes the Constitution seriously.

Otherwise, they would not get elected on one ticket and change over into the opposition camp before the indelible ink on the voters' fingers dries. Which institution is to oversee this and restore people's faith in democracy?

It is high time we the voters recognise that what we are actively participating in is a process to keep such predators in power.

The disconnect between the electoral ambitions of the politician/the parties from the voters is stunningly apparent in the media discourse during the elections. The lack of political morality is naturalised and made to appear inevitable.

By conducting the state assembly elections early, the SCEO has handed over a huge political advantage to the ruling party in Telangana. So far, we have not heard any reasoned explanation for that decision from the Election Commission of India.

Many cases pending on VVPAT/EVM issues in courts have not seen the light of day. The case on how voters' data was handled over to the party in power and by whom is still to be resolved in courts.

With so many unanswered questions in the air, election after election, the Election Commission's strategy appears to huddle the process through, announce the results and present a fait accompli until the next election comes up. Meanwhile, the politicians make hay.

In this rudderless democracy which has been cut adrift from its moorings by the very institutions that are supposed to protect it, it is clear that the voters must shift their attention to the regulatory institutions that are failing to protect the democratic process. If the regulator behaves, the political manoeuvres can be checked at least to an extent.

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