Witnessing an electoral process that was devoid of tangible matters for discussion

The Lok Sabha polling process is over. On June 4, we will be writing a history of whichever conglomeration comes to power. The outcome, either way, must continue the spirit of redefining India’s position around the globe. The world should hear India in every sphere of development.

When I sit down to ponder over the tasks and challenges before the next government, the first thing that comes to mind is working towards achieving the 2030 Carbon Neutral Programme as decided at the Paris summit. Of course, the country is witnessing a big promotion of the use of electric vehicles and solar power. But that is not sufficient. 

Another task is to keep pace with mind-blowing developments in the field of artificial intelligence. We are seeing the usage and influence of AI in our daily lives. It is going to be many folds more in the years to come. The challenges for policymakers as well as entrepreneurs are to work towards AI adoption and innovation. Marching past China, Singapore, and the US is a task for India, indeed.
It was good to see Jammu and Kashmir going for peaceful elections. 

The democratic process in the Valley is a lesson for those countries that are directly and indirectly disturbing peace. How I wish I would have made it to the valley to witness the polling! 


A letdown

When I looked at the poll speeches of many prominent leaders, it disappointed me because the present lawmakers and those who are aspiring to become lawmakers never discussed climate change or AI. In both fields, India has made rapid strides. But no party made it a point to discuss and create awareness about the emerging field among the masses. Anyway, it is too much for me to expect them to speak on such vital issues. Probably, a day will come when the masses begin a movement demanding leaders to focus on subjects that would decide the very survival of mankind and also the job market. 

The political parties eloquently spoke about women’s empowerment. But they fell short of fielding female candidates in proportion to their population. The next LS elections may see more women contesting if the process of implementing the 33% reservation for women is completed. But the mute question is: Will that change the election narratives? I am not sure about seeing a qualitative change in discourse. But women should get sufficient political representation. 

What were the narratives set by the Modi-led BJP and the India bloc led by Rahul Gandhi? For me, it looked like both sides did not have strong reasons to seek votes. The NDA won in 2014 and 2019. Hasn’t it done anything good for the country? Why have the opposition parties, mainly the Congress, failed to recognize even one good initiative? Similarly, why doesn’t the ruling dispensation see any merit in any of the suggestions made by the opposition? Alas, we live in a world resonating with negativity. 

EC & Punch-bag 

It is unfortunate that the Congress as well as the AAP never give up their doubts about the EVMs or the Election Commission of India. Way back in 2017, the ECI organized an EVM hackathon. The Congress never accepted the challenge. I sincerely wish political parties would strengthen autonomous constitutional bodies to make democracy more vibrant. 

I did not see much merit in the Supreme Court’s direction to scrap the election bonds. Indian elections have become synonymous with money power. It doesn’t take a bright analytical mind to guess that black money will be plowed into poll battles in the future. The court, if it wanted transparency in donations to political parties, should have suggested the authorities concerned look for methods to improve the poll bonds rather than scrapping them. 

This is one election where politicians openly used religion and caste for poll gains. The Congress and Co. have failed to look beyond freebies and Muslim vote banks, while the BJP has become more prominent in its nationalist agenda. The campaign centered on the Nehru-Indira Gandhi family members for the Congress, while it was Modi for the BJP. 

I saw Modi positioning himself as the focal point of the campaign. He openly asked the people to vote for him for a secure India. Votes were sought to make Modi PM for the third consecutive time. For now, this is palatable to the party and the Sangh. But how long will this trend continue? A question that doesn’t get an answer for now. 
By and large, the masses have no resentment or anger against Modi. But the prevailing ‘Modi fatigue’ can’t be set aside. It is time for the BJP and Sangh to sit up and take stock of the situation. 

It baffles me as to why Congress is not able to think youthfully and futuristically. The ‘guarantee’ approach to attacking voters is a dangerous trend. The party continues to play the role of ‘giver’ rather than empowering people through contemporary, high-quality education and skills. There is no point in debating why Rahul Gandhi is not realizing that he needs a break after his debacle in the 2014 and 2019 LS elections. 

Real issues 

Unemployment, high costs of living, and agrarian problems are bound to pose severe challenges to the party in power. But politicians were seen as keen on ‘protecting’ the Constitution while not bothering about its spirit. 

Finally, I would like to see all political parties unanimously decide to hold general elections during the off-peak summer months. The ideal month would be November. I do see merit in holding assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously across the country. The model code of conduct during this poll season began on March 16, and it will continue until the results are announced. The results are scheduled to be announced on June 4. To avoid policy paralysis, it is better to go for simultaneous elections.

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