Succumbing to a Fed Narrative

Himachal Pradesh Elections

Imagine, if voting for the Himachal and Gujarat Assemblies was to take place on the same day, let’s say on 12 November or 1 December or 5 December – and not on these three separate days! Do you think the outcome of the voting would have been the same, as these have turned out to be? Or if not, then what would have been different? Or is this question itself not relevant anymore?

The Election Commission announced the election date for Himachal Pradesh on 15 October that the voting there would take place on 12 November, and the counting-n-result would be announced on 8 December – 26 days later! It would have been procedurally correct for the counting for the votes in Himachal to take place on 14 November. In fact, there is no democratically and morally reasonable justification for counting votes 26 days later or holding elections to the two states on three separate days. Nor is it an economically and socially justifiable reason either. Think of the amount of resources consumed – financial, human, logistical, and all in the current economically and financially difficult times – and which could have been saved or rather prevented from being spent; resources that the country sorely needs, and cannot afford to waste. Do we ever worry about or even calculate how many man-hours have gone down the drain – not only for those who are actually and physically involved in the conduct of an election, but for the lay public as well who must consume their productive waking and working hours in just thinking, wondering, gossiping, racking their brains, vociferously arguing, raising their blood pressures, et. al. around the elections? Ending up making a mockery of very serious democratic act concerning the respective states’ governance and people’s lives and livelihood, into a mindless, if not harmful, jamboree. Also consider the state of the contestants in Himachal Pradesh, of their relatives, respective parties and constituencies remaining on virtual tenterhooks for close to one month. So it is not a very happy waiting period for most – with the possible exception of the stock market and the betting mafia, the political dalaals,

So a very simple question for the lay public can be – why were (or are) these elections conducted, managed and spread out the way they were?

One very simple answer or even a very mild and polite answer is that the Election Commission prepared and provided an absolutely unlevel playing field for the elections. As if it wasn’t so to begin with. Even without the Election Commission chipping in, the opposition candidates were not just up against the BJP candidates per se but facing an entire array of constitutional institutions and other bodies working as the BJP’s behind the curtain or actually not-so-behind the curtain foot-soldiers, performing all possible unconstitutional favours for the ruling party at the Centre. So perhaps the Election Commission, even at the expense of  working against its own constitutional mandate, couldn’t avoid not contributing its mite to favour the central government, and seeking to be seen in the photograph on the same side as the majority of the other Constitutional soldiers aiding the central government. Perhaps it didn’t wish to be left out!

So what happened? Did we hear anyone protesting? Or raising a voice? Anyone asking a question of the court? Well, for all practical purposes, none. We didn’t hear any question or protest worth mentioning. One has stopped expecting any such stirrings from the mainstream media and even less from the caricatures lording over the television screen. Maybe the opposition candidates or parties did protest, but in the cacophony of the Godi media, it did not audible more than a murmur. Or perhaps, resigned to the situation and taking it as a fait accompli, they too may have realized the fruitlessness of their protest.

Oh yes, one did hear some discussions and these questions raised in the alternative or the social media – a handful of portals and then a few others operating on the youtube platform.

But somehow,  strangely or may be not so strangely, once the results to the election started coming in and particularly those from Gujarat, in the post-results discussions  all erstwhile concerns mostly vanished. In the immediate aftermath of the Gujarat results, and even now, there was/is hardly any talk of the un-level playing field, very little about the many irregularities and corrupt practices, virtually nothing about the immorality and unconstitutionality of the entire happening. And mostly, with phrases like “Modi magic” and “Chanakya” echoing, what we began to hear about was how “efficient” and “well-oiled” the BJP election machinery is, of how the ex-BJP president and the current Home Minister Amit Shah meticulously attending to things to the last syllable, rectifying past errors, ensuring the roles of the last “panna pramukh” as the ultimate key, and of how on every election machinery nut-n-bolt, the opposition is in a hopeless position and cannot ever hope to match the BJP.

It is an entirely another matter that the BJP lost Himachal!

Biju Negi, Hind Swaraj Manch & Beej Bachao Andolan


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