I like the Election time, you know? And we get plenty of it in a democracy. Currently the elections for various types of local bodies in different cities, towns and villages of my State Tamil Nadu are in progress.
Wherever I go I hear speeches and the loudspeakers blaring away varieties of information., palatable and non palatable. Walls are plastered with slogans. Right in front of my house, I see auto rickshaws plying and a man reading his election speech through a loud speaker fitted on the hood of the auto. The funny part is no body could make out what the man is trying to say; one can’t even grasp the name of the candidate because the auto whizzes past your house within 15 seconds.
But you get much more and exhaustive information about the candidates and parties from the newspapers. It is only then we come to know that how bad some leaders or political parties have been conducting themselves. They grab land belonging to innocent people and even that of the Government’s. The leaders cheat the people by false promises of jobs, transfers and promotions etc. The impeachers are blunt to the point and mince no words in exposing the other’s misdeeds. I wish one was a little diplomatic about these revelations. But no. They insist on calling a spade a spade ! Is this correct, you tell me? But then this is legally allowed in a democracy.
Next, there is a saying that “All is fair in love and war and Elections”. I am not sure if the third option I have quoted is correct but someone did say, “It is all right…”
“But don’t such accusations tarnish the image of the concerned candidate(s)?” The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because the affected candidate will deny all the aberrations and turn the gun on the accuser with more charges. Two bullets facing each other, eh? So, I should think it is a kind of tit for tat !
“In which case, who do they vote for? Aren’t the voters influenced by a candidate’s bad history?
“Did I hear a ‘NO’?”
“Yes friend, indeed. The accuser has as many skeletons in his cupboard as the accused ! Both are awful and unfit to be in the ruling clan. So, how do the voters decide who to vote for? We will come to this point a little later.
Now about the election speeches. Being local elections, you don’t see huge public meetings but only roadside shows. The great advantage of these small sized meetings is that you can cross examine the candidate and he has to answer your questions. If he doesn’t, he loses marks.
In one case, a listener asked, “Your party has not kept so many promises made in the past. Why? Some of them are over ten years old. The speaker candidate scratched his head. This was a Waterloo test for him. Then clicking his fingers he answered like this: You see the election promise you are referring to is only ten years old; we are still working on the three year and four years brands. So you have to wait your turn. Be reasonable. Things take time to implement, you know? The crowd appreciated the answer and greeted him with applause. And he won the elections too.
In another case, [this happened to be a General elections case], a questioner pointed out ,”You party has not nominated your Prime ministerial candidate (because there was really no consensus and there were infighting for the post) and they got away saying, “We will select a PM through a democratic process after the elections and not force one on the people now.” The public lauded this response. ”That’s true democracy, isn’t it?” the voters hailed and the great party won the General elections as well.
Lately, the parties have started announcing a number of freebies. [Even the Supreme court has permitted this !] There is a competition in this regard. If one party offers one grinder mixer per family, another would offer one for each voter. Accordingly in some homes you may find anything up to five mixers.
So, all this is good fun, good rhetoric and empty words too. Nobody means what they say but say they have to. Having listened to many speeches the voters indeed would get confused about who to cast their vote. One wag advises: Toss a coin, brother.