Assembly elections in five states, namely West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Assam, once again have narrated how numbers become politically significant and how numbers can manipulate a particular social and political condition. It is fact that the principle of liberal democracy and its key aspect that defends electoral process is closely linked with the notion of numbers and it’s a game to affect the entire social and political process.
Numbers, in this sense, do not just define the social and political process, but also change the narrative of a particular social and political context. The ongoing elections in the five states are narrating this very character of numbers. In this, every political party, including the ruling BJP and the Congress, is running high volumes of their political campaigns to appeal voters widely.
On the other hand, state parties are also utilising different campaign strategies to get in touch with a large population just to increase the number of votes and number of sheets in the state assembly. Many scholars claim this has been a key process of any electoral democracy, and also defines the value of numbers and its manipulating tendency in electoral democracy.
There were many incidents in the General Election of 2019 that cleverly defined how different political parties were utilising different strategies to attract voters in their favour. In this, politicians who were contesting the election were visiting every place and every home in their constituency to announce several unbelievable promises. During the entire period of the election campaign, it could be observed that the different strategies and techniques being utilised by politicians as well as political parties were psychologically more appealing and convincing to get the highest voting turnout.
Prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during the general election in 2019 led his election campaign aggressively and utilised several communication platforms to constitute his image as a great Hindu leader. During the campaign, throughout the country, he dramatically conveyed the message to the common public and successfully constituted his image in the common Hindu mindset. During the entire campaign, his idea of a new India was polemical and communal that has created not just an anti-Muslim sentiment among the Hindus, but also manipulated myths to consolidate Hindu voters in his favour.
Similarly, in —the ongoing assembly elections in the five states, the same narratives are being utilised by both the ruling BJP as well as different opposition parties in their campaigns — by consolidating voters by manipulating different historical myths. In West Bengal, on one side, there’s Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and on the other, there’s the BJP, and both are holding several public meetings and playing to the political drama to just narrate their individual image and notion of politics.
To create emotional appeal, Banerjee dramatised the Nandigram incident with intense political manipulation. PM Modi, on the other side, is using communal and anti-women narratives in several public meetings in West Bengal to bring the common public into a populist mode of thinking.
The implementation of the new liberal policy by the Indian government in 1991 has been a turning point that has not only redefined the voting behaviour but also the election process. As we have observed in the recent General election, most of the regional parties were focused on a particular community or caste, and treated them merely as numbers to make their alliance with other political parties. In this, the emergence of an alliance-based politics is the reflection of the same tendency and redefines not just the voters’ opinions and but also the way through which political parties treat voters like a property.
This kind of tendency has constituted a notion among common voters to redefine one-voter-for-one-value numerically. The logic of numbers in the election process always stands to define the value as well as its objective myth. This tendency of the number game in India’s election process has brought out significant changes not just in the notion of Indian democracy, but also in society and its different institutions.