By Syed Ali Mujtaba,
The Parliamentary elections are a mandate to govern India. The issues in these elections are common to all the Indians and are of national importance. The expectation of the common man is to know the difference in policy prescription that the political parties have on the issue concerning the nation. They want to know the unique ideas political parties have on all such common issues and how different are they from their rivals in its solutions.
However, what is seen in the run up to the Lok Sabha election 2014 is that the political parties are indulging in mudslinging and the electioneering is becoming an event of kettle calling the pot black!
Each political party is talking about the past and none is spelling their ideas about of the future governance of India. It looks they hardly differ with each other on the issues concerning the nation. They want one set of people to be replaced by the other. There is hardly any change in thought process on policies to govern the country.
It slowly dawning upon the electorates that since past 15 Lok Sabha elections they have been taken for a ride. Their votes have been garnered on the divisions that exist around caste, community, religion, region, etc. These are being exploited during elections and vote bank politics is played up to trap the people and emotionally blackmail them. This has hardly brought any substantial change in the lives of the common man.
The people in the country are now realizing that in none of the elections they have cast their votes on the basis of gains they may have made voting a certain political party. This realization is making a change in the mind-set of the electorates. They want to know from the political parties how they are unique in their action to solve the problems faced by them. They also like to know how they differ in taking India to the next level.
Some of the issues that will prominently figure in 2014 Lok Sabha elections are as follows:
Managing the economy is the burning issue. Related to it is the inflationary trend that is gripping the country and which is leading to spurt in the price rise in the nation. The prescription that is so far offered to manage the economy is disinvestment of the public sector undertakings and foreign direct investment. There is a clear bias towards industrial and urban growth in the country and that is at the expense of the agriculture sector that is hugely neglected.
The mixed economy that was followed since 1947-1990 gave way to liberalization and capitalist economic model. The economic reforms that were initiated by the then Congress regime was carried forward by the BJP led NDA government from 1999-2004.
There was hardly any change in the counters of economic policy by the new political formation that came to power. In fact it they only added jest to the vision and mission to its predecessors.
The reforms that were initiated in 1990 gave returns in the first decade of the 2000, but now show signs of slowing down. This is the reality of Indian economy. In such case what could be the new policy prescription to manage the economy? This is the foremost issue that concerns the country.
Corruption and transparency in governance is another issue. The Anna Hazare movement in 2012 and the rise of the Aam Adami party are both based on this issue. The UPA-II brought the Lokpal bill and conceded their points but the fact remains that there hardly any change noticed on the ground. The people of the country are burdened with the problem of corruption.
The electorates want to know what they may expect from the change of guard. Can the political parties come up with a dateline for corruption free India? Can they give any deadline starting from 2014 general elections?
The internal and external security is another matter of concern. The terrorists, both Jehadist and Hindutva are on prowl to disturb the peace in the country. The Maoist is already having a field day. The north east region in boil so is the restive state of Jammu Kashmir. All pose a serious challenge to internal security. As far as external security is concerned, China remains most boisterous, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other threat perception. All pose external security challenges. These concerns of the country, has to be handled by the political parties that vie for power. The voters want to know their stand to address their security concerns.
Communalism is another issue that challenges the constitutional provision of the country. The past sixty six years this constitutional guarantee has been flouted by recurrence of communal riots. The central government skirts the problem blaming the states and shrikes away from its responsibilities. This going on for long and there is hardly any full stop to loss of life and property that emanate from communal riots. The people of the country want to know whether any change of mind-set in governance will be seen on this issue or will the new rulers continue to turn their backs on such happenings in the country?
The country is reeling under the problem of shortage of water and power. Clean drinking water is becoming scarce. There is shortage of potable water in many parts of the country. Farms are dry as there is no water for irrigation available. Same is the case with the power situation. These are a serious problem faced by the people of the country. What vision the political parties have to solve these problems, how different are they in their approach to address them, is what the electorates wants to know.
The environmental issues facing the country are another major challenge. The problem of climate change is looming large and is affecting the livelihood of many. How differently the issues related to environment are going to be addressed by the political parties.
In the 2014 lok Sabha elections many chief ministers of the states are aspiring to be the Prime Minister. As Chief Ministers they have been talking about the shabby treatment of their states are receiving from the center. The Centre - State relationship is another concern of the people. Will the state Chief Ministers after becoming the Prime Minister, indulge in pruning the unitary features of India to strengthening the federal structure of the country or will they eat their own words on this issue? The people of this country have the right to know from the leaders their stand on issue of center – state relations.
Other issues are; realizing the growth potential of north-east, increasing quality of education system, increasing quality of primary healthcare, ensuring safety of women and empowering them, increasing employment of the youth, reducing malnutrition, promoting research and innovation, controlling population growth, faltering food production, and the ever-present poverty.
Well these are the real issues the country faces as it is getting ready for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The electorates like to know from the leaders of the political parties their views on these issues. They also like to know how different they are from their contenders. Their views are crucial because it is only after knowing them that the electorates will decide their votes and make their choices.
Right now the leaders of the political parties have taken the people of the country for granted. These issues do not matter to them and what actually matters are only the primordial loyalties. This mindset needs has to be changed in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The good news is that this time “None of the above” option will figure in all the EVMs at the polling booth. This provision has given a powerful weapon to the people to reject all who do not live up to their expectations.
Once the people overwhelmingly start exercising this option, only then issue based democratic culture can develop in the country. The political parties will then change their attitude towards politics and come up with solutions to the problem to win the support of the electorates. Will this happen from 2014 Lok Sabha elections? Well one needs to wait and watch.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org