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LS Polls: Who Has The Edge?

Mudasira Akhter

India is a federation which works on form of government both at the centre and state level. After India got independence the first general election was held in 1951-1952. The election is conducted by election commission of India which is a permanent and an independent body established under the constitution of India, under Article 324, to ensure free and fair elections in the country.  The 2019 election is not an ordinary election, whether India remains secular or turns into something different, only time will tell us.

India is full of social, economic and political issues. How such a massive election is logistically organized? Election commission of India has absolute powers to conduct free and fair election. Democratic elections around the world are often marred by voter fraud and corruption. Charges like bribe, ballot rigging, physical torture, booth capturing are the challenges that central lection body faces times and gain during the conduct of any elections. India is world’s largest democracy preparing for the biggest election which is scheduled to be held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May 2019, to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. India’s federal electoral model is based on the system that whichever party wins majority of seats forms the government and elects next Prime Minister of India. In 2014 election BJP won majority and it was the historic win for the party. It was for the first time after decades that a Prime Minister had won such a huge mandate.  The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) alone won 282 seats out of 543 seats in the parliament and the grand old party Congress couldn’t cross even mark of 50 seats. The main reason for the downfall of the Congress became the corruption during UPA-II. The 2G scam scandal during the UPA-II turned out to be a big scandal, along with other scandals which ultimately brought down the Congress government that had ruled India for the past 10 years. Now as India is prearing for the next elections will financial frauds like Punjab National Bank scam, Rafeal deal and other become the reason for the downfall of BJP in this election?

BJP made many promises during 2014 election but delivered a very little. If we talk about the burning issues that faces India today like price rise, security of women, regional aspirations, construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 which creates a federal relationship between India and Kashmir and described the special status that is enjoyed by the state of Jammu and Kashmir unlike other states, bringing back black money and eliminating corruption, the BJP-led NDA government has failed to deliver on all these poll promises. If 2014 election was a referendum on the Congress party’s massive failure to deliver on the promises and a statement on the corruption that had overshadowed the government, will 2019 election be a referendum on Narendra Modi’s hollow economic promises and the scams which have come to the fore. Modi’s economic policy like demonitisation and crackdown sounds like good idea, but has the government been able to transfer these ideas into achievements on the ground. The demonitisation and implementation of Goods and Service Tax which broke the back of medium and small time business have proven to be a massive failure and even RBI had raised objection to on note ban. Demonitisation has proven particularly bad especially for farmers which constitute 2/3rd of Indian population. It has been analysed that no black money returned even after all the curenecy had retruned to the banks. Fake currency which was circulated in Indian market has zero impact. Another goal of demonetization was to stop terror funding. So far this is concerned we have seen much violence caused after demonetization. These slogans like GST, demoonitisation and bringing back black money became just a Jumla.

The catchwords which were adopted by the BJP after coming to the power in 2014 election were vikas(development) and minimum government and maximum governance. Today, India’s unemployment rate is the highest since 1970s. It touched 6.1 percent, worst in the past 45 years, according to NSSO report. Rattled by the findings on the joblessness the government buried its own jobs report and that is why we have seen many officials of NSSO having resigned from their positions alleging the government interference in ensuring that the report on employment data is not made public. There was not enough focus in the country on joblessness. Modi is a man from RSS and his ideology has been shaped by the RSS. His tenure saw India getting caught in mob lynching and violence by cow vigilantes rising to dangerous level. These threats have had a great impact on India’s secularism.  The biased citizenship amendment bill which seeks to amend the citizenship Act 1955 has been another policy decision which has backfired for the BJP-led government at the centre. It allows grant of Indian nationality to people from minority communities from countries like Pakistan, Afganistan and Bangladesh. But Muslims have been excluded under this Act. Why? Let us talk about performance of India under Modi. Ease of doing business, global competitiveness indexes shows a little bit improvement but India has performed worst on UN Happiness index, World Freedom index, Environmental pollution index and Global Democracy index. It is now believed that an average Indian will vote considering issues like unemployment, farmers’ crises, communal crises, inequality, environmental destruction, mob lynching etc. People vote to elect their leaders so that their grievances and basic needs get fulfilled. Unfortunately we get the leaders who have a criminal background. If we will talk about NDA and UPA, there is a long list of politicians with criminal charges. When these criminals come to power our institutions run in danger and that is why we have seen resignation of RBI governor Urjit Patel, although he cited personal reasons. The CBI chief Alok Verma was also ousted. Scandal after scandal has hit this government. Who helped Vijay Malya to escape from India? In PNB fraud more than Rs 1100 crore have been looted by fugitive Nirav Modi. When will this money be returned and the fraudster brought to book? No one has the answer.

The need of the hour is to elect those candidates who have a good record and it is the job of the government as well as election commission to ensure that people who have good track record with no criminal background get elected. The election commission should reject those candidates who have criminal charges. Voters have to reject those candidates who have criminal background. Only then we can hope for a new dawn in this country. (The author can be reached atmudasira.akhtar@gmail.com).

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