A land in election mode

So elections have been announced. Come to think of it we have been in election mode for quite some time. In the past weeks every time you switch on the idiot box, particularly in the day, you are likely to stumble upon some leader or the other addressing a rally in some part of the other of our country. The speeches, often delivered in screeching and strident voices courtesy I guess poor quality sound equipment are a cocktail of the same ingredients: bashing the adversary, enumerating one's so called achievements, and wooing some section of society, normally the poor or some target group, though never quite spelling what they would do barring grandiose promises that one has heard ad nauseum.

I do not know what choices one really has. It seems that politics in India follow a similar cacophony no matter what your supposed ideologies are. Sleeping with the erstwhile enemy is common place. Pre election there is a torrid pre election alliance time which may or may not result in the sought marriage or engagement. The probability of a post election alliance does however remain on the back burner. And the alliances are of all shades and hues and follow now ideology whatsoever. The only common denominator is power!

Mudslinging, name calling and hitting below the belt is run-of-the-mill. It is all a game of oneupmanship. Blowing one' s own bugle and badgering your opponent is the rule of the game. Then comes wooing the voter that includes a variety of gestures such as touching the feet of a poor elder, hugging or patting a child. Walking streets with a retinue of people hired at a daily wage, and a fanfare or drums playing forcefully while the candidate smiles with folded hands that unfold to wave at no one in particular is also an age long 'tradition'. What is amusing is the sending of an advance party who hands out garlands to all and sundry so that they can 'garland' the candidate. It reminds you of yore days of kings and court jesters. Wonder if it cuts any ice with an electorate that is getting tired of these jaded ways.

Last time we voted for change, what we though was real change. But then the power bug I guess reared its ugly head and we as a city felt abandoned as our new heroes left us for greener pastures. Today we see them looking too much like the ones we were fed up with.

Yet we have to make a choice and to do sift the chaff from the wheat, if wheat there is. It is not easy to find one's way under the din and clamour and work out what is best for us. It seems that creating the loudest vociferation is every one's way of shielding their shortcomings and forcing us to lose our way. The recent happenings in Gujarat and the subsequent street fights are a good example of what I am trying to say. One party states it is trying to expose the claims of uber-development brandished by another. A member of the said party tries to explain the situation that ensued as best he can.

I do not know how many of us read an article by Mallika Sarabhai who in a quiet way gives us telling statistics about the development in this state that tell the real story.  She ends her article with these words:  But his model of development is Darwinian; the government will only support the fittest. Let the others perish. So, will the readers of this column see through this model of lies only if they belong to the 950 million poor, weak, unjustly treated? Is this the model for India?

What is happening is that we are all losing track of real issues and getting swayed by who shouts the loudest, who mesmerises the best, who dazzles the most, who promises the best sops. The real issues are forgotten and brushed under the carpet. The questions that need to be asked are lost in translation.  In a recent interview Delhi's 49 days Chief Minister did make some very crucial points which again seemed to have been lost under his two coloured socks. He stressed that only quality education for all can usher the change we so want, and that it can only happen when all state run schools across the land impart equal and quality education. Unless that happens, nothing will change.

This is what the likes of me have been shouting forever.