A Familiar Electoral Landscape

Written by Malvika Singh | Updated: Nov 15 2003, 05:30am hrs
Some say the Congress will win all the five states, others say it will be a 50-50 battle, and yet others believe the BJP will win three Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Many election watchers were hoping against hope that some party would break the usual, predictable dispensation of tickets and take the risk of throwing up new faces with energy, intellect and integrity. There were such people around, much too dignified to descend to the rather uncouth level of lobbying. Despite the new generation vote waiting to go to the hustings, no political party bowled a googly. Disappointing, to say the least.

In some cases, dubious and corrupt Congress people in Rajasthan were given tickets. Those listed for the same constituencies who were far superior, younger, elected pradhans for many terms, committed and civilised without being tied to some business group, or other shady characters and financiers, were not given a chance. This new lot of clean men and women do not have ancient and doddering godfathers in the party that is the problem.

Naval Kishore Sharma, Shri Fotedar, Sardar Buta Singh support their favourites despite much questioning within the various screening committees. To think that these men are determining candidates in a changing world where over 50 per cent of the voters are in their 30s, makes one shudder. It is equally unimaginable that these erstwhile stalwarts are allowed to continue to play havoc with the party, debilitating and demoralising the youth and committed party workers. Only one new face in Rajasthan when there could have been at least a dozen.

Some of the favourites wanted a change of constituency knowing that their useless and corrupt shenanigans would bring them to defeat. Unfortunately, Shri Gehlot did the predictable, following in the footsteps of the old men in the party. No gumption, no sense of trying to break new ground. Sometimes one wonders whether this old guard in the Congress, well into their 70s and 80s, are deliberately sabotaging the party by repressing the fresh and energetic younger lot. You just have to talk to young Congressmen and women to understand their frustration which is, rightfully, beginning to verge on anger.

The BJP on the other hand at least had the guts to field two young women in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as chief ministerial candidates. The party took a risk despite their old guard opposition. Win or lose this time around is irrelevant they went out there and are fighting. Where are the young women that the Congress has fielded in Rajasthan Alas, someone good does not get the ticket because he/she is not a Jat but a Rajput. Someone else is bypassed because of mythical stories that are floated about being close to the top brass. Hopefully, such people will lose.

The BJP has put up a candidate against Ashok Gehlot, a man who has the support of many who can campaign far more successfully for the votes in that area than their Congress counterparts. Smart move! Rumour has it, as I write this, that Rama Pilot will be pitted against Vasundhra Raje. However, there is no doubt that Vasundhra will win her seat regardless of who stands against her. That is her strength and she has worked hard for her constituency. All this without the tacit backing of her party.

What happens within the BJP if the Congress Party wins the states and what happens if they lose Will there be serious repercussions that could signal what the general elections will tilt towards Or, have state elections and the general election become completely separate games Is the operation of government at the Centre going to be a complicated play, a drama with a sutradhar who pulls a string here and another there to try and keep peace, to play the balancing act And, are the states, ruled primarily by the Congress, going to be the growth centres of a new emerging India an India that will not have to wallow in corruption and ineptitude

But, for any Party to be acceptable, they will have to change track, they will have to respect the new generation and its aspirations. They will have to listen to the youth and follow that new dream, not envelop India in their cobwebs.