Millennium Post

21st century is for people’s politics

In the capital, a higher voter turnout is the combined result of the two-year continuous mobilisation of people, first by Anna Hazare against corruption and then due to the ‘Nirbhaya’ tragedy. Then, there were protests by Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The party’s strategy of door-to-door campaign and decentralised manifestos also contributed to the higher turnout. Finally, due to the price rise of onions and unaccountability when it comes to people’s concerns which is an all-India phenomenon, voters have been fed up of the non-responsive political class.

Chhattisgarh was mobilised on the Maoist challenge and the crisis of democratic space, and nothing could be done about it. There are districts in the state which have been ungovernable for nearly three decades. So, people in the state had their own reasons to rush to the polling booth.

In Madhya Pradesh, there is bipolar factionalism. Both parties have tried to put up the best show because it is crucial for national politics. Rajasthan is not so much subjected to political unrest but there is social unrest, with a community demanding the ST status in place of the OBC tag. Today, democracy is taking a new turn when ordinary voters are trying to become more engaged. Earlier, they used to withdraw because there was no space for ‘protest politics’. Anna Hazare created a space for critiquing the present available alternatives. There were also high turnouts in the 1977 and 1989 elections but it got settled down because things got solved. In 1977, Emergency had just got over and 1989 got derailed because of the Mandir and Mandal mobilisation. In both cases, the anti-corruption platform could not hold. But now there is a double-barreled or two-track situation: there is mobilisation around the moral issues by Anna Hazare and many others in the country for political reforms and checking corruption of the political class. Then there is a non-Congress, non-BJP space expanding very rapidly all over the country including in the capital. So, this will create an interesting situation of choice and possibility of change.

Generally, when there is no possibility of change, you withdraw from the process. And extreme withdrawal results in situations like Naxalism. But if you have some kind of possibility, change, people do line up. But we must also give credit to the election commission. It has created better technology, better facility and played a proactive role. The high turnout is going to change the agenda of the political class, which has become so self-possessed and indifferent in the name of popular demand for liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. It has to come back to basic needs of people – like water, electricity, security, prices, jobs, social justice. These things were totally marginalised in the last 20 years under one pretext or another.

Also, there is an implementation crisis. There is a lack of confidence not only in the political class but also in the bureaucracy. So the political class will have to change, and that is the beauty of democracy. Politicians cannot take people for granted, and people cannot take politicians for granted. The same political parties will be different with cleaner candidates, a better agenda, and no open defiance of expectations against criminalisation of politics. That will change certainly.

The ordinary Indian is now very much empowered. They have information power, RTI, political choices. The younger generation is very proactive with social media and even the media. The media and the younger generation are converging together for change. The days of conspiracy of silence or suffering in silence are over.

By arrangement with Governance Now
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