The campaign for the General Elections 2019 is at the peak and by the time this edition of Organiser would be before the readers, manifestos and programmes of all major political parties would be in front of voters, the track record of respective political parties and candidates is already there in front of the voters and the first phase of elections would be just around the corner. Like each time why to vote and how to vote is the fundamental question that is going to haunt the common voters. Can we draw certain common parametres irrespective of ideological inclinations and political preferences so that we can nurture the healthy democratic practices?
One of the most profound commentaries on the same in the post-independence Bharat is provided by Padit Deendayal Upadhyaya, through a series of nine articles through Organiser, on the backdrop of the 1962 elections. His insistence on informed and enlightened voting and role of political workers and media in the same is relevant even today. Though being a General Secretary of the then Bharatiya Jan Sangh, his analysis in all the nine articles is objective and still, passionate for the nation. In the first piece itself he gave a call with the cautionary words: “Vote is a matter of conscience. Do not sell it. Do not destroy it. When you vote, take a momentous decision. Please do not take it just on the spur of the moment”.
People with rising aspirations are talking more about the delivery and therefore, the larger ideological issues are generally missing from the political scenario. Of course, the delivery factor is important as mere lip service under the garb of a sacred document is not good enough. For instance, most of the promises made in the 2019 Manifesto by Congress are the same or the improvised versions of the promises like Direct Income Support to farmers, One Rank One Pension, Universal Household Electrification etc were made in the 2004 and 2009 manifestos of the grand old party. Why Congress could not deliver on those promises then and how it is going to deliver now are obvious questions that should be asked. On the other hand, how far the BJP delivered on the Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat and Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas plank as promised on various verticals of the vision document released in 2014 should be analysed.
Besides delivery, it is the ideological plank of a political party that shows the future direction. Whether the party stands for welfare of all, the proposed policies are in tune with the cultural heritage of the nation and financially viable or not, whether alliances are trustworthy and formed on the basis of compatibility or just electoral compromises etc., are questions that would influence the electorates.One cannot say that we want people to be empowered but actually snare them through various sops. All encompassing government cannot ensure the freedom of individual and society, so contradictions in the promises made should be taken into consideration while voting. As Deendayal Ji stated, ‘A good party with a set of good candidates must also have a good, realistic programme’.
In a country like Bharat, leadership is another important consideration that shapes our voting behaviour. A leader who commands legitimacy and respect not just within his own party but by the large masses should be a natural choice in a democracy. The foreign policy and security considerations of the nation generally do not play much important role in our national elections. Not just during the war-like situation but otherwise also, these two issues are important for a country to provide basic governance to the common people. In the present scenario, when the international scenario is in flux and the regions like Jammu-Kashmir and Northeast Bharat are in search of a new direction and narrative of peaceful development and Bharatiyata, the security considerations are all the more important.
As Deendayal ji argued, “The voter should not complain; he should command. He should not desire; he must demand. He should not grumble and grudge; but should assess and assert. The voter should see that he votes for a principle and not for a party, that he votes for a party and not for a personality, that he votes for a person and not for the purse. Let him consider the cause and not the caste; go with the worthy rather than with the winner. Choose the right man and see that the man you choose wins; that will be your victory”.