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An Election That Lacked Colour

By Author: Jill Clevenger
Total Articles: 42

The 2019 elections are coming to a close. On May 23, it will be known which party will form the Government at the Centre. The satta bazaar worth Rs 1,000 crore is predicting that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party; that the Congress will improve its tally; and regional parties will continue to be powerful. In 2014, there was a call to "vote out the corrupt Manmohan Singh Government." In 2019, Prime Minister Modi is at his best in defending his throne. There was a 'Modi wave' back in 2014, which is absent today. But Modi has subsumed the party, which is asking for votes in his name.

Modi was untested then and sold a 'big dream' to the people, promising achche din. This time around, it is not a cake-walk for him as the voters are disenchanted. The outcome of the 2019 election will depend on three things the BJP's performance in the Hindi heartland, where it lost badly in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh; effectiveness of the regional satraps to hold their fiefdoms; and the BJP's ability to make up the deficit in eastern parts of India.

Looking back, what will one remember about the 2019 poll? This is a lacklustre election and the poll atmosphere in many States has been lukewarm. Second, little voter enthusiasm has been seen. In 2014, there was a good voter turnout as two in every three Indians voted with gender gap almost negligible. The common man is indifferent to the current polls and NOTA (None of The Above) option has gained popularity. Conscious voters, who do not want any candidate in the list but want to prevent bogus voting, have been using this option judiciously. "Koi bhe aane do, humein kya farak padha hai," is what most poor people say, who are wooed by political parties. Even the 8.4 crore new voters, who cast their vote for the first time, did not show much enthusiasm.

Third, 2019 saw the poll campaigns stoop to a new low with all sides using below-the-belt remarks. This was true of BJP leaders - even the Prime Minister and party chief Amit Shah - all of whom lowered the bar to attack their opponents. Modi referred to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as "accused number one" in the Bofors scam and even said that he and his family had used the Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS Viraat to go for a vacation. Further, Modi fought the elections by invoking "nationalism" and attacking the Gandhi family for their omissions and commissions over the past decades.

The Congress, too, did not lag behind and used the 'chowkidar chor hai' slogan extensively. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi stuck to his pet issue of the Rafale deal. The verbal battle between West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Modi was at its lowest. Meanwhile, the Opposition has been unable to stick to the poll narrative by raising bread and butter issues like jobs, farm crisis and rise in oil prices. However, at the State level, where the regional satraps rule, elections were fought on local issues. Modi had a tough time fighting these satraps at multiple levels.

An election that lacked colour - The 2019 Lok Sabha polls were unusual as political parties and their leaders stooped to the lowest level with their below-the-belt remarks. for more information visit: https://www.dailypioneer.com/india/page/1

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