How Political Manifestos Are A Mix Of Propaganda And Populism

Posted by Muzamil Yaqoob in Politics
February 16, 2017

From the past few days, the world has been witnessing a drama of modern state-craft. For instance, the banning of people from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States by President Donald Trump, demonetisation in India, and many more.

Coming to the national level, the Indian political ground is undergoing Assembly elections in Punjab, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The party rallies and campaigning have been vibrant. Manifestos have been disclosed by the political parties to the masses mirroring the ends envisioned by them. The recent release of party manifestos in Punjab has little less than astonished the intellectuals.

Manifestos are meant to be a short blueprint of development or some laudable work like community development, conflict resolutions, eradication of hazardous problems like poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, social and political unawareness so on and so forth.

After perusing the manifestos of the contesting parties in the Punjab Assembly elections, one can, without a doubt, call it a distraction and deception of naïve citizens through many insignificant issues like saving our youth, restoring the rightful position of Punjab, Ram Mandir (Ram temple) construction, opposition of triple talaaq (the Islamic practice of divorcing the wife by saying the word talaaq – divorce – three times) and many other surreal hindrances of development in the respective states. Thus, the real and concerning problems have been buried in the soil of religious fanaticism and hatred.

A rally of Congress supporters.Former prime minister Manmohan Singh disclosed the Congress party kalyan patra (welfare letter), ironic that he was propagating “saving the youth”. Furthermore, his party has chalked out a vision to “restore the rightful position of Punjab”.

Aam Aadmi Party, after its record breaking victory in the capital, didn’t leave any stone unturned to entice the electorate in Punjab by promising low cost food in new canteens and taking the state on the path of development. The manifesto released by Bhagwant Mann seems more or less a replica of what the party had for Delhi. Rendition of this party can be judged by their achievements in NCR, if any.

Taking his turn, Amit Shah disclosed the party manifesto for the Bhartiya Janata Party, driven mostly by religious considerations of Hindutva ideology. They tried to play the anticipated communal card by “promising to explore the possibilities of the Ram Mandir construction and opposing triple talaq in the Supreme Court”. Finally, the party manifesto mentioned releasing concessions worth ₹5,00,000 to those bereaved because of the militancy in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

For any political commentator, it is flabbergasting to know that these are the only questions causing a hindrance to the nation’s structural development.

Elephant In The Room

The whole drama of election repeats itself every five years and these development claims become recurring. The present state of Indian politics reflects that those in power religiously venture into Machavellianism and thus make the best use of the “priming theory” of Iynger and Peters – a concept of planting an idea into the minds of the people and allowing that fabricated idea to dominate all other discourses.

Last year, The Hindu newspaper mentioned that about 10 million (which calculates for 15% of the Indian population), with highest levels of education were seeking for a job opportunity.

In the same year, the United Nations released an analysis of health performance based on their sustainable development growth. This was a global analysis and India ranked 143rd in the list of 188 countries. What is astonishing is that India ranks lower than the war torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

Half of the world’s poor population resides only in the three countries of this continent including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such is the economic condition of India that about 60% of all households at the lower economic strata own just 10% of the assets.

Dreaming For A Better Nation

For a better nation building our political elites must bear in mind the issues that are worth addressing since growing ignorance towards core issues seems to be the most common reason behind anti-statist tradition in any part of the globe. Giving laptops and free WiFi services to students (as Congress has envisioned) is not going to save our farmers from committing suicide; for whom no political party has any vision or any agenda.

The presence and constant spread of lethal diseases, which could have been eradicated long before, didn’t find any mention in any manifesto. India accounts for 60% of total cases of leprosy. After it has been declared as a non-health issue by the world community, India is still unable to come out of this mirage.

Turning their eyes away from the swelling problem of unemployment, our leaders have the vision of saving the youth. When it comes to the issue of restoring Punjab to it’s former position, it compels one to think of where exactly does Punjab stand for India? Most importantly, it hasn’t been able to achieve a rightful place even after 70 years of Independence?

Last but not the least, it is the people who are responsible for nation building. We should make it a point to keep abreast of all political developments and core issues of general population. Committing violence against religious nationalism and politically fabricated issues is not going to serve our nation in any way. Instead referring to politics as a “dirty game” or as “the last resort of a scoundrel”, we should take accountability of the opportunity that we get every half a decade to rectify it.

Today the ball is in our court, we need to elect only those candidates who possess an intellect and people-centric vision not limited to a particular region or community, but for the masses of the whole nation. Questions are being raised about the media’s credibility. The worst is that cardinal issues are being sidelined. It is time that the watchdog of the society plays its.