In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, we were contemplating on the perception of the Congress party that has formed in the eyes of the Indian electorate in the previous years. From their stifling defeat in 2014 to their struggles with portraying Mr Gandhi as a serious Prime Ministerial candidate given how he had been a popular meme template on the internet, to Mr Gandhi slowly finding his ground, to the Congress party genuinely working towards winning the next election, this former political monopoly has seen it all.
While we marvelled at the progress of this party, we could not consciously ignore the reason for this gradual change. We could neither ignore the reason they were dethroned by the BJP, nor could we ignore the situation that has forced them to take things seriously: the power of the voter.
Indian elections have been the largest elections in the world for a while now, thanks to our increasing population and to the diversity we proud ourselves of. What this brings to the table is the fear that the whim of the electorate induces in the parties.
Moreover, the idea behind our Constitution defining a fixed five-year term for the party in power is another evidence of how the democratic process is enshrined into our political landscape. This idea of a limited period of governance is integral to holding the leaders accountable for their actions and their policies throughout their tenure.
In light of the knowledge of this claim, what is most vital to the essence of a democratic election is the voters’ ability to rethink their options again and again over every election. It is very necessary that we, as an aware electorate, continue to analyse the pros as well as cons of every party in question and don’t hesitate to re-position ourselves in terms of our political inclination.
History has, time and again, showed how people have changed their decision when they felt that the current representatives were misusing their power. For instance, after 34 years of ruling the state, CPM was voted out of power by the voters. Even the UP elections, where the BJP rose to power after defeating the Samajwadi Party, the most powerful party of the state, is another such example.
It has been seen that politicians resort to every possible method for winning an election. As the election dates come closer, they can be seen visiting the homes of the economically disadvantaged, crying with them in their sorrows and leaving them with the promise that the poor would live happier lives only when they are elected to power.
Politicians also portray themselves as the messiah of the common people, someone who is capable of solving all their problems, wiping their tears and also cleaning their feet.
Even a crowd favourite as Ms Indira Gandhi, who was seen as one of the most powerful politicians of her time and a champion of the country’s economy, couldn’t save herself from the wrath of the unsatisfied voter. In 1977, her invincible self lost the elections. Examples like hers present to us a picture, a picture that depicts the power that the Indian voter wields even today. After acknowledging this power, all that is left for us, as aware voters, is to introspect.
Did you support the Congress before 2014 and the corruption that reigned supreme during UPA-II made you look over to the BJP’s appeal?
Or did you vote in the BJP because of your affection towards the country’s ideals, but are now doubtful of how devoted they actually are towards protecting the country’s foremost declaration, the Constitution? Are you wondering if the Congress has really changed?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, congratulations! You just made use of an important feature bestowed upon us by the directives that our Constitution lays out.
According to me, the best feature of a democratic republic is not just the fact that we get to choose our own leaders. It is the fact that we get to choose our leaders repeatedly. It is because of this continuous sense of responsibility towards the sanctity of the country’s ideals that we have a working government in place. It is only in the presence of a politically aware citizen with the right political tools in hand, that we can aim towards contributing our best to society.
Therefore, when you go out to vote again next time, set your biases aside. I know that sounds tough, and it is frankly impossible, but acknowledge them, at the very least. Unpack the ideas and policies that the candidates in your constituency have to offer.
Read up on how feasible those policies are and choose the most competent of them all. Don’t be ashamed of re-thinking your political ideologies, for power is a corrupting force and the individual, who you trusted five years ago, may not be the same person now.