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10 Lessons Karnataka Elections Taught Us About Politics And Democracy

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The mercury of the capital reached 42 degree Celsius on the afternoon of May 19. The restaurants and pubs at Connaught Place, the city centre and a hotspot for the weekends in Delhi, were mostly full. However, the routine in the pubs and the cafes were a bit different that day as many of them skipped the music and sports channels. Instead, their eyes were fixed on the news channel.

The attraction was the floor test of the newly elected BJP Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. The 2018 Karnataka assembly elections and its post-poll developments have provided plenty of entertainment for the Indian audience. It maintained a high entertainment quotient on the day of the floor test too.

There were rumours that the CM will resign before the floor test as he didn’t have the numbers to prove the majority. Fulfilling the hunger for entertainment, Yeddyurappa gave a speech and left the floor of the house to submit his resignation.

The drama might not be over in the case of Karnataka but by now, this particular election has taught us some lessons about democracy and politics in India. Let’s understand the lessons here.

1) An Election Is A Number Game

Whether you like it or not, any election is a number game. If you have the numbers, you are a hero and if you do not have the numbers, then you should accept it. The most important number for our lesson is the “magic figure” – if you cross this number, you have the majority to form the government. BJP could not achieve the number but tried to form the government nevertheless.

2) Accepting Reality

Accepting reality is one of the major lessons in a democracy and the Karnataka elections have proved it again. Be it a post-poll or pre-poll alliance, the mandate should be accepted by the political parties.

3) Stop Using Constitutional Posts

Yes, it is unfortunate but the reality is that political parties in power use Constitutional posts like that of the Governor, Vice-president and others. These are very important posts – and yes, the party in power does have the authority to assign their own people for these posts. But choosing people just by their political affiliation can destroy democracy and the Karnataka elections have proved it again.

4) The Judiciary Of India Still Works For The People

The all-night hearing of the plea at the Supreme Court against the decision of the Governor to choose Yeddyurappa as the CM was an eye opener for all. Following the hearing, the SC gave the order to have the floor test within 24-hours which led to the failure of the BJP to prove their majority. Yes, the Karnataka elections have proven that the judiciary still works.

 

5) No Power Is Ultimate

BJP got a historic mandate in 2014 and formed the government. Thereafter, they have won or formed the government in most states in India. But in a democracy, no power is ultimate so don’t be hungry to form a government everywhere.

6) Respect The People

Democracy is for the people and by the people. The political parties should not manipulate this. The parties use money and power by disrespecting the mandates which are not right. For example, if you think about it, in Bihar the mandate was against the BJP. But with time, the BJP manipulated the situation and formed a government with Nitish Kumar.

7) United Opposition Is Needed

To combat the BJP democratically, a united opposition is needed and the Karnataka elections have clarified it. Let the Congress party understand that they do not have the power to combat the BJP alone and they should come together with the regional parties.

8) The 2019 Election Is All About Regional Parties

To bring down the BJP-led government in 2019, the regional parties will be the key factor. It will be very wrong of the Congress to ignore the regional parties.

9) Give A Push To Local Leadership

After the Karnataka elections, the Congress should understand that it might be a historically important party but it has no leadership. Rahul Gandhi has miserably failed as the chief of the Congress and the party should push the regional leaders and not depend on just one person.

10) Let’s Not Lose Hope

The Karnataka elections have proven that people should not lose hope of defeating the BJP. People have seen the party for the last few years and will take the call based on that. If the opposition can win over people’s faith, then they might receive their votes as well.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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