Indian voters – spoilt for choice?

May 15, 2009

With 8071 candidates contesting 543 seats — that’s an average of 15 candidates for each seat — the 400 million Indian voters who chose to vote sure looked spoilt for choice.

But were they?

Though democracy means choosing who our rulers are going to be, many say there is a crucial missing link in Indian democracy — the lack of inner-party democracy.

This results in the lack of people’s participation especially in choosing candidates, unlike the U.S. where primaries are held by political parties to elect candidates.

Rahul Gandhi says he is trying to make reforms.

At a recent press conference, commenting on his position within the ruling Congress party he said, “It is undemocratic and it is a reality.”

“The Indian political system tends to be related to who you know, who your brother is, who your sister is, and it’s in every single party, in the BJP it exists, in the Congress it exists, that’s a fact of life, that’s the reflection of a closed system.”

Policies are rarely formed after debates involving the party cadres and tested through their votes.

Guessing and second guessing why people booted out a candidate or rooted for another remains the default option for making sense of electoral verdicts.

Political scientist Ashutosh Varshney writes that the lack of internal party democracy leads to a fractured polity, as no leader of a new group can hope to capture an existing party in an open contest.

The weekly ‘Tehelka’ reported 10 billion dollars being secretly spent by politicians to woo voters.

In the absence of a culture of volunteerism, which cannot take off until people are involved in electoral campaigns as in the United States, some say the importance of money bags and black money can only go up.

Critics say all of these tendencies — fractured polity, unstable coalitions, promiscuous alliance hopping, muddy electoral verdict, horse trading of legislators — will most probably be on show in the next few days as the process of government formation gathers steam.

Voters generally get to choose from a field of candidates who are selected by the party bosses.

Pending this crucial democratic reform, did the election process represent a real choice by the voters? Or was it an expensive illusion?

One comment

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These results have been remarkable in many regards. First and foremost, most politically significant aspect of all, we must congratulate the electorate for cleansing the system effectively. Almost all the Mafia/goonda element has been wiped clean by the voters in this election –
Atique Ahmad(Apna Dal)from Phoolpur,
Mukhtar Ansari(BSP) from Varansi,
Afzal Ansari (SP)from Ghazipur,
Mitrasen(BSP) from Faizabad,
D.P.Yadav(BSP) from Badaun,
Arun Kumar Shukla(Anna-BSP)from Unnao.
Akshay Pratap Sigh(Gopal Ji-sp)from Pratapgarh also lost .
Congress was saved from embarrassment as Ranjeeta Ranjan(Wife of Pappu Yadav)and Shanti Priya(Mother of Pappu Yadav) contesting from Supaul and Purniya -with full congress support- respectively both lost and along with Sadhu Yadav.Hena Shaheb(W/o Shahbuddin)contesting on RJD ticket also lost from Sewan.
Lessons (if they are willing to learn)-
A.We do not want criminals in the parliament. We have cleansed the system once ,keep it clean now by not giving them tickets in future.
B. Ms. Mayawati do not take us for fools, there is no way that you can get away with enrolling all the big time criminals for parliamentary elections. How ignorant can a person try to be, telling that BSP could not get the expected number of seats because people were scared that BSP will later start negotiating with BJP-bring something more audacious ,anybody. Truth is staring in your eyes, you are not willing to look at it and expecting everybody else to close their eyes also.
C.If a systematic effort is made to make people understand ,they do understand. All the Corporate and Media houses are to be congratulated for their all out efforts to keep the system clean. What is most encouraging is that such efforts were made for the first time, were spontaneous, motivated by a sincere desire to clean the system and they proved to be so effective.


How many King Makers/Prime-ministers in waiting had to eat their words-Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan duo,Mayawati,Sharad Pawar,Mulayam Singh-Amar Singh Duo,Jayalalitha,Prakash Karat in particular and Left parties in general. These are people /parties with loudest ambitions and most unveiled threats and demands. People of this country have had enough of them. I found the fate of RJD/LJP in Bihar funniest along with SP in UP. Congress did the right thing by calling their bluff-when your closest allies suddenly leave you in the lurch and you have to slug it out all alone, do it with all the heart and there is an old saying(as Lalu,Paswan and Mulayam must have learnt the hard way)-Luck favours the brave. People have started understanding that these are all small time leaders with truncated visions ,doing politics of/for one particular caste or region without the capacity to realize the ill-effects of what they are doing, how much fragmented the society is becoming due to all their social-engineering or Madndal- Kamandal experiments and most importantly they do not have any ideology or vision at all except for a fierce desire to keep clinging to the seat of power for making as much money as they can. Thank god their next generations are much better and educated and seem to understand that politics is about the nation(As In Bharat that is India) and not about their own clan,region,language and so forth….


Chief ministers of Delhi,MP,Andhra Pradesh,Gujrat,Chhattisgarh and most notably Bihar and Orrissa have reaped rich harvest for all their good works and also some of the policies at the central level have paid handsomely for Congress overall(Agricultural Loan Waiver Scheme and NREGA in particular and being able to contain free fall of economy in general).I hope one day they will all learn that governance only can lead them to the seat of power, even more importantly, people will learn to vote on the basis of policies and governance only keeping aside the usual divisive issues that are created to confuse and befool them.


All the big ,grown up leaders, political stalwarts in their own eyes ,who were laughing openly at Rahul Gandhi or watching him with bemused expressions and calling him Kal Ka Chhokra, must understand that if your conscience is clean, you can talk to your audience maintaining eye contact all the time(i.e. you do not have any guilt inside),you have faith in what you are doing, you do not have any intentions of grabbing power by hook or crook rather you are willing to refuse what may be duly yours, then illiterate population of this country has a uncanny ability to somehow judge it all. Emergence of Rahul Gandhi is a remarkable phenomenon, it is very clear that he is a political novice, but at the same time and even more forcefully are conveyed his intentions and his basic thought process, the bondage with the audience is instant and spontaneous they seem to understand that this young man is speaking from the core of his heart for their sake and has come to them with an open mind and clear vision. They could see that his vision is not clouded by Religion, caste, language or political or financial gains and they responded in the only way they could have responded (By casting their votes in his favour).This was a natural chemistry between a straight forward person full of youthful energy and a population fed up with convoluted politicians. Almost similar traits were displayed by Priyanka during her campaigns.


I have a feeling that calling Manmohan Singh a weak Prime minister might not have gone well with any soft spoken ,well behaved ,decent person. How can you call him weak-He managed to run his government without any major hiccups DESPITE Left support for full tenure, he did not release any terrorists in response to attack on Mumbai, he went ahead with Indo-Ameriacn nuclear deal despite severe arm twisting by Left, he managed the economic crisis well without any major tangible effects till date. Yet, suddenly everybody from BJP to his own allies start calling him weak. Despite their ideologies, many well meaning persons will vote in favour of congress just to prove his detractors wrong.

So, in my opinion this is clear verdict in favour of a stable Congress government, expunging the criminals, excluding any scope of arm-twisting and was influenced by sound judgement and a few good decisions of the Mamohan Singh Government with remarable contribution from sensible politicking of Gandhi Family and a clean image of Manmohan singh. At the same time,good governance at state level was also rewarded in general and people have given a vedict more complex and mature than reasonably expected.

Many cheers to this verdict.


P.S.-These elections are important for another reason also, cutting across all the party lines, tickets were given to many young politicians in these elections and a very healthy percentage of young MPs will be visible in the Parliament this time-there must be more than a hundred MPs who are 45 years or less in age (87 already and I am still counting)most notable among these being Rahul Gabdhi,Varun Gandhi,Jyortiaditya Sindia,Priya Dutta,Akhilesh Yadav,Jayant Singh,Milind Deora,Supriya Sule,P.Venugopal,Kumar P.,Dayanidhi Maran,Sarika Singh(Only 29 years),Kunwar Jitin Prasad,Dhanajay Singh,Sanjay Nirupam,Ajay Makan,Sandeep Dikshit,Ravneet Singh,Dev Ji Patel,Sachin Pilot,Jitendra Singh,Meenakshi Natrajan,Shruti Chaudhary,Ashok Kumar,Deepender Singh,Naveen Jindal,Ashok Tanwar etc..etc….The list is really a long and impressive one. If somehow they are given a chance to form and run the government cutting across party lines………………IF ONLY……………..

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