This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ranjeet Menon. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Karnataka Elections: The Great Circus Of Indian Democracy

More from Ranjeet Menon

A sudden silence engulfs the country at the peak of campaigning during every election, be it in the states or at the national level. The silence is almost choking for about two weeks or so. Unpredictable price rise, a characteristic of inflation which has become part of the daily life of every Indian comes to a standstill. People are not used to such peace and tranquillity in their regular lives. It is a sigh of relief to see the prices of fuel and commodities soar again the next day after the elections. This is how the political, civil and business establishments are mocking the very essence of democracy. But this is just scratching the surface, one of the many effects people are experiencing being part of the establishment.

Here is the interesting fact about elections in India. None of the candidates’ political parties put up as people’s representatives during elections have any experience in social services. Indian society has been conveniently segregated into vote banks based on the lines of religion and caste and people vote based on these grounds. The agenda of political parties during election campaigns is not to talk to the people about economic development and social issues. Opposition parties use these as their weapons to attack the incumbent party during election campaigns and then the mud slinging ensues.

For every political party, there are three category of voters: the loyal voters, the fence sitters and the non-voters. The non-voters will never vote for the party unless something dramatic happens which induces a mass migration. This is like converting the bad cholesterol to good cholesterol. The loyal voters will always vote for the party no matter what happens. It is the fence sitters who are really targeted during election campaigns. This is where the Cambridge Analytica saga unfolded. Data collection and targeted election campaigning through social and other media are done to woo the fence sitters. In India, fence sitters are voters whose votes are bought in return for money, alcohol or gifts. All of these are nothing considering what happens in the aftermath of elections.

Consider the latest round of state election that just concluded in Karnataka. It was a three-way battle between BJP, the party that has the control of the central government, Indian National Congress (INC) the party that was in power in the state for the last five years and the JD(S). The total number of contested seats was 224 and the magic number to get the absolute majority to form the government was 112. No party got a clear majority as was expected in most of the exit polls. BJP got 104 seats, INC 78, JD(S) 37 and three went to independent candidates or smaller parties. Now here is where the madness begins. If we go by the absolute majority process, no party can form the government. Ideally, the state government has to call for another election. But the election process is a massive strain on the civil administration with a huge investment of time and money into election campaigns. Because of this reason, the governor has invited the BJP, the party with the largest mandate or vote share to prove their ability to form the government in the next six days.

How can BJP accomplish this? These three parties have fought tooth and nail against each other in the election because of their ideological differences and even the three candidates who won as independents or from smaller parties have ideological differences with all the other parties. As is the case in all elections, the three would eventually join the party that ultimately forms the government. Supposing BJP can convince the three to join their party, they are still five members short. Five winners from either the INC or the JD(S) have to jump ship and join the BJP.

This is a usual occurrence in the Indian political scenario where the party which is trying to form the government woos independents and members from other parties with the reward of money or cabinet berths aka horse trading. But what has heated up the situation is, the INC is ready to support the JD(S) to form the government. The irony here is, INC and JD(S) candidates were pitted against each other and had fought tooth and nail with accusations against one another during the election campaigns. Even more ironic is in the fact that the INC has won far more number of seats than the JD(S) but the INC, knowing that they have been voted out of power have chosen wisely not to try to take centre stage.

Now let’s consider the case of voter X who is a fence sitter. He is disillusioned with the governance of both the INC in the state and the BJP at the centre and has voted for candidate A belonging to the JD(S) in his constituency who went on to win the election. Under the present circumstances, one of the below two could happen.

1) BJP woos A to jump ship and goes on to form the government
2) JD(S) allies with the INC and forms the government

So voter X who voted against both the BJP and INC is going to be ultimately governed by either of these parties, directly or indirectly. When it comes to getting into the seat of governance and grabbing the power that comes with it, political ideologies and differences fade away. The simple question here is, in such an environment where every situation could be manipulated, why are the people being made to vote and then made to look like dumb fools? There is an answer to this as well.

The candidates carry their vote banks along with them when they jump ship. Candidates have to convince only their loyal voters and even with the votes of the loyal voters elections could be conducted. So the establishment will run safe and smooth nevertheless. The situation in Karnataka may look complicated and crazy but this is how the establishment is built and has been working all along. The US is dominated by bipartisan politics and India is also swaying to a similar situation where either the BJP or the INC will always hold the reins of power. Is this how democracy is meant to be? I am not able to understand any of this which is why I am never able to convince myself to exercise my right to vote because I do not see myself anywhere in the process after I vote.

You must be to comment.

More from Ranjeet Menon

Similar Posts

By Tanvi sharma

By India Fellow Social Leadership Program

By Ritwik Trivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below