Monday, 22 July 2013

Vote for No One

In the run down to the 2014 general elections there is a huge outcry imploring the people to exercise their right to vote. I, myself, have been part of this persuading movement. But the more I attempt to decide who to vote for the more uncertain I get. More than an economic bankruptcy, India is suffering a leadership one.

Your vote demonstrates who you think deserves to lead this country. It is a tool to demonstrate your confidence in a Party (in all practical terms an individual) to govern us for five years. But what if you do not think any of them are up for the task? What if you are so completely indifferent between candidates that voting becomes a matter of a lucky draw?

The way I see it, come 2014 I have the following options: Congress, BJP, AAP and the 3rd Front. The way I see it, none of them deserve my vote.

A recently trending article by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, illustrates what Congress has done to our country in their back-to-back reign for 10 years. A better job cannot be done by any and I urge you to read the article yourself. It explains how under Congress' rule almost every sector of the economy has been destroyed and is being destroyed further in their final attempt to consolidate certain vote banks using populous policy. The economy is in a bad shape, worse than we realise, while Congress seems to be on a suicide mission with laws such as the Food Security Act. It is almost like they realize they will lose and are setting up the economy to collapse post the 2014 elections.

No, Congress definitely does not deserve our vote. Not only because of their pathetic performance and their scandal filled reign but also because the kind of precedent we as a nation want to set: Do we allow terrible performance to be rewarded by once again giving them power? If so, how will we ever hold our leaders accountable? Our leaders, who already think of us as idiots, will have more reasons to mistreat us. No, Congress back in power would be a national shame.

So if not Congress, then BJP? That does seem to be the popular track as of now. Modi has proved himself as an able administrator. True, there are plenty of reports, with good grounds, that say he is more hype than action. But still, he has done good for Gujarat. With our current economy, Modi maybe our best option. But now I ask you to pause, breath, and picture this:

You are at work and are suddenly informed that riots are imminent and you should probably head home to your family. In the age of fewer mobile phones you find it difficult to get in touch and rush home to make sure your family is safe. You reach home to find general panic among your neighbors. No one seems to know what may happen and no one seems to know what to do. Suddenly some one shoots the idea that the neighboring Gulbarg Society which houses a Congress MP would be a safe bet. People pounce on this first rational suggestion and rush towards what they believe will be a safe retreat.

You are now with 30 other families in the MPs house when you see a mob appearing at gate of your society. The hooligans are armed with swords and guns. They are screaming slogans of an alien religion and lusting for the blood of you and your family. You reassure your children by telling them there is a 20 feet wall around the colony which will keep them safe. But when you hear the gas cylinders blowing up you begin to avoid their eyes. The helpless feeling of not being able to assure the people who rely on you is shattering your spirit. Watching the MP, with all his power, making calls after calls begging for help and being repeatedly turned down is washing away that little confidence you had left.

As a last resort your leader is trying to offer a bribe. No one believes it will work, but you have run out of options. You watch the MP reluctantly open the door and throw the money just to rush back in. But just before he could, arms grab him from behind and you watch him, in horror, being cut into pieces and burnt alive right in front of you. You know the same fate now awaits you and your family and there is absolutely nothing you can do...

The above narration was based on the in-depth research conducted by Tehelka on this topic. Their reports also comprehensively prove Modi's involvement (or lack of) in this episode (here and here to list a few). Such atrocities happened under the rule of this man. This man refused to help such people. Help he could have given with a mere phone call. Does such a man deserve the top job of this country? What is the precedent we are setting here? I shudder to think.

Chankya is credited with the quote: "If the king is pious, the subjects become so; but if the king is vicious, the subjects become the same. If he be indifferent to both (virtue and vice), then they too bear the same character. In short, as is the king so are his subjects." How can we, with a clean conscious, vote ourselves into this direction?

So no to Congress and no to BJP. We seem to be running out of options. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not really feasible either as they are still a nascent party and do not have the experience. They have also periodically made a few statements that suggests they may not understand the economy very well. The 3rd Front on the other hand have all the experience in doing all the wrong things. With potential leaders like Banerjee, Mayawati or the Yadavs, this would be India's nightmare come true. Fortunately, it seems highly unlikely.

So who is left? No one. I am a young Indian very eager to exercise his right to vote. I had to wait 5 years after turning 18 to do so. If given the option I would have gone through the entire registration + voting process just to show how I think none of them deserve my vote. Alas, that is not an option. I am truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Correction: A friend has just brought to my attention Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules (1961) which provides you the ability to abstain (using form 17 A) and have the presiding officer make a note of this decision. I apologize for my ignorance. I guess I will be voting this elections after all!

PS - If you do agree with me, I urge you all to exercise this option even if it makes life a little difficult for you and the election commission.

11 comments:

  1. Well done. Can I also just say one thing: A Hindu friend's father was caught up in the riots so he rang Modi and help in the form of big men with big guns in big cars arrived very quickly to provide safe passage. Luckily for my friend, her Hindu dad was ok. So when this guy says there is nothing he could have done, WTF!

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  2. Dear Parikshit..
    It is good to hear the views on Indian Political Scenario. I just wanted to clarify a few points on Modi ji that you have mentioned.
    1. U have mentioned one isolated incident and judged him to be viscious. The 2002 riots were what they are called "Riots". It was not from one community and both communities were involved. Out of total dead 30% were Hindus.
    2. Gujrat has a history of communal riots and this is not the first instance of rioting in Gujrat.
    3. Armed forces were deployed and shoot at sight order given. Most ppl shot by armed forces were hindus.
    4. If he had refused to help a lot more Muslims would have died. Total dead muslims were around 800.
    5. How can a single phone call stop a rioting mob of more than 10000 ppl. The total police force in Ahd at that time was around 6500-7000 ppl.
    6. Maximum convictions for rioting has happened in the Gujrat 2002 riots.

    The media is fond of raising this issue as it increases TRPs. They do not want to educate on actual facts. There have been no riots in Gujrat since 2002.
    In fact there have been riots in Assam lately over bodoland but the Congress CM there is still present and no accusations are against him. The masaccre of Sikhs in Delhi by congress(massacre not rioting) is of no consequence. Naxal Violence is happening across the country but those governments have no responsibility.
    I am attaching links of few articles. Please go through it.
    The best hope for our country is Mr. Modi. He has provided good governance and has had no anti muslim activities. Muslims in gujrat are at peace and are progressing. We should go into depth on these issues at ground level. This is all a propoganda by Congress and Media to hype the riots. It was triggered by Muslims attacking Hindus. It takes time to control such situations. 30% dead were Hindus. Such facts need to be considered before making up the mind against a person.

    regards,

    Avinash

    http://www.gujaratriots.com/
    http://www.firstpost.com/india/not-just-modi-guide-to-communal-riots-before-2002-and-after-688714.html
    http://www.voxindica.net/2012/02/many-previous-riots-top-gujarat-in.html
    http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?217988

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    1. Dear Avinash,

      Thank you for your comment but I cannot accept your premise that Modi is not to blame.

      30% (not quiet), the figure you repeated twice, is the official figure given by the state. A state who had to underplay the situation for their own image. That is just too large a conflict of interest for you to rely upon it so heavily.

      Evidence in multiple forms - the most compelling (in my opinion) of which is Bajrangi being caught in a sting operation openly claiming how Modi gave his blessings and later turned a blind eye to all their deeds. Modi's involvement is comprehensively proven and if you do believe otherwise, I fear it's probably you who has fallen for the propaganda.

      I regret but bringing in other riots and governance is only helping my case and not yours. The whole point of my article was that none of them deserve our vote. Not the Congress CM you dragged in, but nor does Modi. You cannot expect me to accept Modi because someone, somewhere might (which is obviously arguable) be doing something worse. That is not good debate.

      I appreciate the time you took to write read and write your comment and I hope you shall listen to criticisms about Modi with an open mind instead of a defensive one.

      Here is a link of the evidence I had mentioned earlier - http://www.tehelka.com/the-sting-in-the-story/

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    2. Dear Parikshit,

      I give in to the point of official figure by state is a conflict of interest. But the fact that this was initiated by the godhra attack is a fact. It was not a just free for all kill Muslims for no reason.
      Second, Babu Bajrangi has got life imprisonment for his deeds. He can claim he had blessings etc but the people who have done such deeds have been identified and punished. Which is to say more than what has been done for prior riots. I feel that shows committment towards punishing those responsible. Mr Modi has clearly stated that he is ready to face punishment if he is proven guilty of being responsible for the rioting.
      But lets keep this issue aside.
      Not voting is definitely a way of showing your preference. And if done by a sizable no. of people on paper, the EC will have to ask to change candidates. But this will be at the constituency level. Not at the PM level. As a responsible citizen, we should ensure that the candidates at the MP level are educated and committed. And that political parties have to ensure the selection of candidates is on that basis and not caste and religous politics alone. If we can ensure this than the governance of the country will be better irrespective of the Prime Minsiter. Even MPs have a certain responsibility of developing their contituency which will change things at ground levels.
      Secondly, since we are discussing on issues like rioting etc, refraining from voting will only increase this. Look at what happened in UP after SP came into power. Their people were ransacking and killing opponents openly. In WB currently, TC has won unoppossed in 10% of panchayats because of their muscle and threats. We(as educated and responsible people) should ensure that such incidents do not happen. And for that we have to strive towards electing a government (it may have its own sets of issues) which is better maybe not the ideal. If we refrain, such people will come in power and imagine the chaos then. Mulayam singh has openly stated against the law being proposed of people convicted to be disallowed from contesting elections. Do we want such people at the helm of our country.
      What you are suggesting is a long term thing. I agree we should exercise that right to ensure better candidates at local level from parties but at the centre we should choose from one of the 2 national parties. Both have their set of problems and i dont want to influence decisions but strength of the party and not dependence on coalations will ensure better development of the country and reduction in power of such elements. Please think about it.

      regards,

      Avinash

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    3. Dear Avinash,

      Once again thank you for your comment. I find myself agreeing with you on some aspects but only partially. Admittedly I do not have all the answers either. Allow me to explain.

      To begin with let me dismiss the aspects that I totally disagree with. The Godhra attack initiated the riots - agreed. But that does not really address the issue of Modi's action. Once again I feel the debate is being side tracked by irrelevant issues (irrelevant to this debate). It really does not matter who and why the riots started, here we are judging the actions of Modi.

      As far as his guilt and statements are concerned, they mean little as I have already mentioned how Tehelka has demonstrated time and time again his involvement. But as you say, lets leave that aside.

      At a narrower level you are right. Only if 10% of the people choose to exercise 49-O will there be a change in the candidate and that too only at the level of the constituency. But as I mentioned to the comment-er below, that need to not be the result I am hoping for. Signaling to the market (yes, this is in all practical terms a market) about my preferences will cause other ripples which may result in something bigger or just die out and mean nothing. But that is a chance that I feel can be taken.

      Selecting an appropriate MP to make changes at the constituency level seems a legitimate argument, but again what if I do not think any of them will do the job right? Plus with the anti-defection law in place I am literally voting for the top man and not the local representative. If I think that the Congress MP will be better for my region but at a national level BJP is better, who should I vote for then?

      The 3rd front and all those leaders you mentioned are disastrous. I cannot agree more. And here is where I kind of agree with you but also don't. To begin with the assumption that if people started exercising 49-O will mean the 3rd front coming into power is a little far fetched. Why do you assume it will only be the Modi-voters to switch to this option (if at all)? I am calling for all to switch this option. According to my 'plan' the status quo shouldn't really change, i.e. they are no more likely to come to power than otherwise. I apologise if this isn't very clear. But I do hope you understand what I am trying to say.

      Your last paragraph is absolutely right. I truly have to think about it. Hence I end my blog saying - I am truly stuck between a rock and hard place. My dilemma is who deserves to be that ruling party. That is not clear to me. And I do not understand (and I have tried to) how it can be to anyone.

      I am unable to find a proper profile of yours. But I would like to stay in touch. Message me your details if you would like the same.

      Regards,
      Parikshit

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    4. Dear Parikshit,
      Now just wanted to extend this discussion on the view on Narendra Modi.
      Lets have some facts:
      1. I would assume Muslim population to be 20% in the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda where most violence took place.
      2. This means almost 15-20 lakh muslims. It seems very strange that only 1000 were killed when the government had given go ahead to slaughter(as per the common opinion). I feel much more would have been affected if they had wanted. 3000 sikhs were killed in delhi alone when the congress massacared them. Total around 8000 sikhs were killed then. No of sikhs is much less than the no of muslims and if the state wanted then lot more would have died.
      3. There were elements of the government and political parties involved. The minister Maya Kodnani was guilty and has been sentenced to 28 years.
      4. If Babu bajrangi was blessed by Modi he would not have got life imprisonment. He has been punished for his deeds whether he claims blessing or not.
      5. Mr. Modi has clearly stated that he had asked all 3 neighbouring states for assistance in controlling the riots. All 3 congress states refused. How is this his responsibility.

      Murders, and deaths happened. Those who did the deeds were punished. India has accounts of deaths and murders happening everyday. A lot of them communal. Against Dalits, by Tribals, by Naxals.

      Modi ji has never used this killing as an electoral agenda. Nor has he praised it.

      Think on these points. All said and done Mr. Modi has brought peace to Gujrat. And Development. People are happy and are getting unemployment. Muslims and Hindus both. So I for one am totally for him becoming the next PM and do not feel that the riots in 2002 should be any obstruction for him. That is the only thing the opposition has against him as there is no corruption or development issue that they can raise against him.

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    5. I am sorry Avinash but yet again you are throwing allegations at another party in your bid to defend Modi. This is a standard way to avoid accountability in Indian politics. The fact is that in India, with its long history of misdeeds, we can always point fingers at others and we will always be partially right.

      Congress are no doubt any better, but those leaders are not at the forefront (I emphasize forefront) of Indian politics anymore. So passing judgement on their actions does not and should not receive the same importance as Modi. They might have done something worse, but that does not change Modi's actions.

      The punishment on these people that you are highlighting came after a decade of struggle which included a SIT as well. While you think this was a victory for our justice system it was actually a humiliation. The people who had to fight for this have struggled and struggled even though they had irrefutable evidence. These people were punished no thanks to Modi, they were punished in spite of him. Some one had to be made a scapegoat in the end it and turned out to be these people. So please, their punishment does nothing to exonerate Modi. The fact that it took so long makes him complicit.

      As far as Modi as the current best option for India is concerned - maybe you are right. I cannot argue one way or another about it. Maybe as a country we are stuck in a shit place and have to vote ourselves under the leadership of this man due to lack of a better option. Probably we are that unfortunate. But lets not delude ourselves into believing that we are not compromising in this decision.

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  3. If you are going to resort to simplistic deductions of the 2002 "riots", then why don't you blame it squarely on the religious communities? Modi didn't take a sword and run around killing people, people of the community did. Stop blaming one man for everything that's wrong.

    Ask yourself, if Modi is somehwhat better on the development front and the only thing holding you back is the communal-ism angle, then think a little more of how it originates and why it has persisted in India. Riots have been happening ever since Independence. It is because of lack of development and education of the masses that riots continue.

    Now I know you want to take the self-righteous path by declaring no one is fit for the job... it is exactly because of this attitude that we have always taken 1 step forward and two steps back. You must read a bit more about the Nehruvian-Socialism policies and understand what went wrong and how these factions are holding us back. The Food Security Bill is a clear example of how political parties cripple India one generation at a time.

    Democracy is and always be selecting best of the worst. Don't be an idealist, be a realist. In my 'liberal' view, people should vote based on only development till we have achieved literacy and become a developed country which sadly we are far from.

    Not a fan of BJP/Congress although Arvind Kejriwal seems a bit of a bright spot in my view in this bleak country.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Your style of writing and generally aggressive tone reminds me of my good friend Aashish so I think I will refer to you as so.

      You are taking my argument and running away with it like an extremist. Where, pray tell, have I blamed the entire thing on Modi? All I said it Modi must shoulder part of the blame to what happened to those people and with so much blame to go around, that part is significant enough for him to get my vote.

      Your second paragraph once again runs away with an absurd argument which has no meaning to my discussion. I don't care why the riots have been happening or why those particular rights happened. I don't care about communalism (for this line of argument). All I care about is that man did nothing to stop such nonsense and it was his duty and well within his power to do so. Such a man does not deserve my vote.

      You think Arvind Kejriwal deserves your vote, good for you. I don't think any of them deserve my vote and may I suggest you pay heed to your own advice: Stop blaming my attitude for everything that is holding this country back. How absurd is that?

      Idealist? Not at all. But why is it so that you believe me voting for no one will make no difference at all? I am making my preference known to the nation. I am making it known that if anyone half decent shows up, my votes is up for grabs. I am also showing the world that number of people out there who are ready to vote but feel like they do not have the right choice. I am sending a signal in the economy by stating MY preference. The signal will create its own ripples.

      So my friend Aashish, please don't get so aggressive because I bad mouthed Modi. He does not deserve my vote and me making that clear is not harming my nation.

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    2. If you don't vote, you don't participate. You don't participate, an urban educated vote gets eliminated and the weightage of the poor, who vote based on handouts and religion, increase. You are making the nation know you are self-righteous and really not, in any way, helping it. The only ripples that are getting created is in your own ego. People have been doing that for 60+ years as they think voting doesn't really help anyone.

      Riots will happen till the uneducated don't get educated. No Prime Minister/Modi/Batman will stop that till the whole community gets educated to the point they find it silly to fight over whose god is best.

      You are given options, make the best use of it or become one of the options but don't claim you are serving the country by sitting on the sidelines.

      And sorry, I am not Ashish and appologize to your friend to show him in bad light.

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    3. Haha trust me my friend wouldn't mind. He has called me a lot worse and politically heated debate is our thing.

      I must apologise because I think I have not been articulate enough. It's just so much clearer in head that I cannot comprehend your lack of understanding. But he isn't one to hide. So yeah you probably aren't him.

      My vote demonstrates my preference. If I am indifferent amongst the candidates and think none of them deserve a vote I should vote for a category thy allows me to demonstrate this. It's not like I'm sitting at home and not showing up for elections. I'm simply making my preference known. Whatever you may at to that sir, it will have its ripples. On this point I shall not elaborate. If you still disagree you need to look back at your fundamental economics not as something to mug up but truly understand what it implies.

      An educated vote means nothing if I am so indifferent between the candidates. Indifference meaning I don't care who is elected amongst them coz I think they are as good or as bad. So if the 'uneducated' vote does get higher weight age as he has a genuine preference. Why not?

      I have had just about enough with the personal attacks. I have held back because this is my blog and you are a guest. Once again I request you to expand your horizons. There are different ways of helping this nation. It isn't your way or the highway. Get of your high horse sir and actually think about what people are saying and doing.

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