We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic…
For those of you who don’t know, that is the opening line of the Indian constitution – The sacred covenant of our great nation, clearly indicating that the power is vested in the people and people alone. Be that as it may, if you have followed the recent election fiasco in the state of Karnataka, you would know how things have changed since what our forefathers had envisioned for our country while drawing up the constitution. An election is the very essence of democracy. The process where we, the people, choose our leaders who we deem fit to govern our land. However, the recent elections have proved to be nothing more than a mere gamble. A gamble of seats, a gamble of loyalties and money. Where is democracy?
I surprised myself with the amount of interest I was showing towards this election. Maybe it was the effect of binge-watching House of Cards and Designated Survivor together – I was curious as to check out what was happening in my own state. This made me follow this election from the beginning. Regrettably so, I was unable to vote in this election as I am yet to get my voters ID card. So this made me a spectator, getting my daily election feed from the news channels some of them which I found to be extremely biased towards some parties. This kind of tactics might as well be what goes into winning an election or mastering the art of politics. As we all have witnessed, the minds of voters can be manipulated through every which way possible. From your Twitter feed to obituary posters, everything is a potential medium for appealing to the voters. Now, people in the Urban areas have the knowledge of what is going on around them and will cast their votes unbiased and to the deserving candidates. On the other hand, the votes of villagers are bought for as low as 100 rupees and a packet of food. This is how low our democracy has stooped to. Unworthy candidates with a bag full of criminal records are taking the easy way out and buying votes to feed their hunger for power and to quench their thirst for money. Where is democracy?
Now, let’s say the votes have been cast and it is time for results. Before this happens, there is a lot of drama with the electronic voting machines. While there are some who pull off every trick in the hat to rig those machines, there are some others who suggest we go back to paper ballots. After the results are out, the curtain then rises and the political masterminds start their act. The coalition government formed in the state of Karnataka comprises of two parties which had secured the 2nd and 3rd place in the vote count. It is to be noted that half of the cabinet ministers of the incumbent government had lost in the elections and the leader of the party which had secured 3rd place is now the chief minister of Karnataka. The head of the cabinet. Take a moment and think what this means. Their party had come third in the elections which clearly means that people did not want them to form the government. Voters went to their polling booths, looked at the list of candidates and voted for some other candidate from a different part and not this one in the majority of the cases which made them come 3rd in the standings. Jokes on you people, the very party which you did not want to form the government, forms the government. This is absolutely not low balling a party or the government. This is just common sense and some elementary mathematics. This comes dangerously close to what constitutes a constitutional loophole. You be the judge of it. Where is democracy?
While this is the case in our state, there have been numerous instances wherein there is a lot of ambiguity as to who should form the government when there is a hung assembly and when no party has the absolute majority of votes and the situation naturally gravitates to the Governor of that state. Then comes the question of the non-partisan nature of the Governor himself. Expectedly, the losing side will start to question the Governor’s credibility. For all we know, the whole Government could be formed by one person’s prejudice. While all of this is happening, the poor farmer who is expecting a good yield is still waiting for that economic reform which may not be made into a legislation at all if the party which he voted does not come to power. Situations like these makes one wonder, why is there no constitutional provision which puts an end to all these sorts of political obscurity? Where is the democracy?
If you, for a minute, think that all this is happening only in our country, you are so wrong. The situation in our western democratic counterparts is no better. There has been a lot of controversies involved with the presidential election in the United States of America. A country with a different form of government compared to ours is also asking questions about the way the leader of their country was chosen. The election is a process where people elect their leaders. As simple as that. But in recent times, not only are there internal factors which influence an election, but also major external factors which harm the sanctity of an election in unprecedented and unfavourable ways. There are theories which suggest Russians had a major role in the election of Donald Trump as the president of USA. People are speculating there was a major role of Twitter bots to manipulate the minds of the voter. What has democracy come to? A few lines of computer code is capable of deciding a country’s leaders. Where is democracy?
It is time that the leaders of our nation and all the other nations who believe in the principles of democracy should make sure there are appropriate amendments to their constitutions which will prevent these kinds of malpractices and to make sure the interests of a common man is protected. Failure to do so will either lead a country to its downfall because of incapable leaders and inefficient governments or will give birth to groups of people who decide to bring about change in their own ways who live under the threat of being called extremists and revolutionaries. The lack of unity in these sort of groups, in turn, will lead to anarchy. It is time to rethink our policies towards elections, refurbish our legislative processes and rekindle the spirit of true democracy.
It is time.