I was speaking to my friend from the United States yesterday and we as usual got round to the situation of Indian politics. I think we both agreed that we needed a change.
This I think is in the mind of almost every Indian today. Problem is who to vote for:
On one hand we have a party which has shown utter greed ( this I think almost 80% or so of the people will agree) and absolute bumbling (such as food grains rotting while people go hungry)
This party now carries the weight of its previous burdens and this may be why the people who spoke the maximum for it have now decided that “health” reasons are why they cant participate in this elections.
On the other we have a person who may perhaps be a very wily person since he has played move after move to sidestep the minefields and has ridden the anti incumbent factor to its complete full extent. This person unfortunately carries the communal divide weight to hamper his every movement
On the third we have a rag tag lot of parties on a local level who will go this way and that based upon which way the wind will blow. This group has people who each harbor ideas of being the supremos and therefore will pull out the chairs from anyone in their internal alliance itself if it helps their needs
And finally we have a party which says tonnes but to date has not even made a dent, and then decides to push every chance it had aside for making a greater change. The only question this brings to mind is if the party is able to gather such forces as they claim, why could they not just fight the battle on two fronts, are the battles mutually exclusive ? There was so much they could have done in 3 months at a local level like move to remove the stranglehold of APMCs so that the common man got food at realistic prices, so much more that I cannot even begin to enumerate. This would have been a Tsunami of unstoppable proportions.
Its so confusing
The problem is now people are talking about a small unknown concept called NOTA. (None of the Above). Under Rule 49 ( O ) of the Conduct of Election rules. On 27th September, 2013 the Honorable Supreme Court asked for a NOTA button to be added to the Voting machines instead of the manual procedure which was setup earlier thereby making the use of this option easier.
With the mood that is running now, there is a massive surge for using the NOTA button, the social media is abuzz with it.
HOWEVER BEWARE !!!!
This elections we are being egged on and on about voting and the turnout for this elections may be one of the highest ever since the level of frustration is so high.
This high turnout is a double edged sword. If you use the NOTA button, it basically means your vote has no meaning, you might as well sit at home griping. By doing this all you're doing is a token protest behind a screen which no one will see just to satisfy your own ego that you registered a protest.
Let me explain why the vote has no meaning, the NOTA concept in India is warped. In India there is no cut off % for a candidate. Lets assume for example 80% of the people in an area says NOTA and one candidate gets 2% and another gets 18%. As per Indian election rules. The candidate who has the highest % , no matter what it is would be considered as elected.
So this election, don’t say NOTA, actually cast your vote and make sure you aren't letting a wrong candidate get elected just to satisfy your ego.
TICKET TO RIDE (first written by me in 2009 about lok sabha elections - very relevant NOW)
A lot of of people have SMSed me or written Emails or contacted me in some way or the other telling me to vote.
I saw the ad campaigns running on TV and in the press as to how Pappu raj will reign unless I do or how I should “Jago Re”.
Me being the perverse person I am, decided to ask the people who told me to make sure I vote if they knew what exactly was I voting for, how did the Indian Parliamentary system work. Guess what. None of the people I know really understood what they were voting for. Of course they knew who they were voting for but not WHAT they were voting for.
So I decided to make a little synopsis for my readers to really “Jago Re”.
( for those readers who would like a bit of background) First of all, India, a union of states, is a Sovereign, Secular, Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary system of Government. The Indian polity is governed in terms of the Constitution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into force on 26 November 1950. The Constitution which envisages parliamentary form of government is federal in structure with unitary features.
The Union Executive (The top rung) consists of the President, the Vice-President and Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to aid and advise the President in his / her duties.
The real executive power (power to do things eg legislate) vests in a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as head.
The Council of Ministers comprises Cabinet Ministers, Minister of States (independent charge or otherwise) and Deputy Ministers. Prime Minister communicates all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to administration of affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation to the President.
Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister to aid and advise the President who shall, in exercise of his functions, act in accordance with such advice.
Now since most Ministers may not know exactly what to do, each bureaucratic department has an officer designated as secretary to the Government of India to advise Ministers on policy matters and general administration.
The Cabinet Secretariat has an important coordinating role in decision making at highest level and operates under direction of Prime Minister.(All those of us who have seen Yes Minister or its Indian version knows how important the permanent secretary is to the Political machinery and how they get things done)
In short The Council of Ministers is the real power behind the throne and collectively answerable to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People.
The people we are voting for in this election is the Lok Sabha representatives.
Now we must remember that the thrill for your local goon doesn't lie in being a Lok Sabha representative, the fun lies in being a Minister or even a Prime Minister so that he is the one with the “real executive power “.
That is why the candidates all horse trade to be in the majority in the Lok Sabha since the Ministers are picked from the party which wins a majority of the seats in the Lok Sabha and they all want to be the movers and shakers. Thats where the real moolah lies
Now this election day, when you go and vote for your local Papu who has stood in the way of bulldozers when they came to demolish the slums in your area, remember he will first of all become a representative of the Lok Sabha.
In the Lok Sabha it is his responsibility to hold the Council of Ministers accountable for their actions and ergo he must be able to logically and systematically understand what he has to question and what not. Before putting the cross next to his name, ask yourself, is he capable of doing that ?
Ask yourself is he capable of reading a report on how the funds for educating all the girls across India below 11years will be arranged or is he the kind of person who will shoot his mouth off first and remove the foot from it later.
What is a Lok Sabha Representative, he is the voice of the people. Is the person you are voting for your voice or is he the voice who will dictate to you for the next 5 years ?
That means that Papu now controls the future of what happens in the country as far as XYZ is concerned. (Things are now getting dangerous).
For example, lets say Papu is in charge of Home affairs. Does he understand the concept of security ? Does he know the difference between Kevlar and Iron plate vests for the Black Cats ? Of course not. For that he needs to depend upon advisors. And who does the average Papu have for an advisor. His local “Circuit”, Mr. Fix it all.
Do you really think a local goon who is used to fixing things on a local level has the expertise to handle your future ?
>>>I have a very old adage which is the reason I am able to write on a laptop today on the internet today is all thanks to Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s advisors. He had the right mix of technocrats from Sam Pitroda downwards who knew what technology meant. In order to be a good leader , you dont need to know everything, you just have to have the ability to let your team do its work.
Case to point is Lalu Prasad. He has not done anything earth shattering, in fact most of the plans being implemented under his regime were planned tens of years ago, since you cant just plan and slap a bridge or announce a new railway line overnight, there is a lot of research and planning involved.
Lalu’s only positive point is he doesn’t interfere with the people who actually do the job, which is why the railways has gone from a loss making venture to a profit making one.
Now assuming that he has pulled the ultimate joker and becomes a Prime Minister, now we really are in trouble.
Whatever happens he will be a part of the legislative machinery, the machinery which decides the fate of future India. The Legislative Arm of the Union, called Parliament, consists of the President, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. All legislation requires consent of both Houses of Parliament. However, in case of money bills, the will of the Lok Sabha always prevails.
Under the Constitution, Parliament has the power to make laws for the whole of or any part of the territory of India. The subjects on which legislation can be enacted are specified in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Parliament has the exclusive right to legislate in respect of items appearing in List I, called the Union List. This list includes areas such as defense, foreign affairs, currency, income tax, excise duty, railways, shipping, posts and telegraphs, etc.
Both Parliament and the State Legislatures have the power to legislate in items appearing in List III of the Constitution which is known as Concurrent List. This list includes items like electricity, newspapers, criminal law, marriage and divorce, stamp duties, trade unions, price controls etc.
This means that Papu once elected has a say in topics such as Defense ,electricity, criminal law,etc. “Criminal law” huh, now wonder every 2 bit goon wants to be in legislature. I can just imagine what would have happened to gun laws if Munnabhai has reached parliament.
Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
The Rajya Sabha consists of 245 members. Of these, 233 represent states and union territories and 12 members are nominated by the President. Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect; members are elected by the elected members of Legislative Assemblies of the concerned states. The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution, one third of its members retire every second year.
The Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people chosen by direct election on the basis of universal adult suffrage. As of today, the Lok Sabha consists of 545 members with two members nominated by the President to represent the Anglo-Indian Community. Unless dissolved under unusual circumstances, the term of the Lok Sabha is five years
I hope the system is clear to all of my readers and please do feel free to write in and ask any questions that you may have, but do remember that till recently I too was the kind of person who voted either for the person at the centre (the figurehead of the party) Manmohan Singh or LK Advani or maybe for the local popular or famous figure head like maybe Govinda or Priya Dutt.
In most cases the only reason we vote for them is that they are a familiar surname in a sea of unknown names. (In the 70s, a large percentage of film industry used to change their surname to Kumar or Kapoor just because they thought that made them have a better chance at becoming a star).
What with Monica Bedi (a known gangster moll), Nagma ( infamous for a hawala transaction of an underworld don), Munna bhai, Shabbuddin, Shibu Soren, Arun Gawli,Raja Bhai, etc all standing for the Lok Sabha and whose only claim to fame was infamy, I did some digging as to how a politician is made in India.
In India it starts with a person playing an active role as a mediator in local issues since the judicial and municipal systems are a complete mess. The person then starts mediating in larger and larger disputes and acquires a local reputation as someone who can get things done. Along comes an election and the local populace naturally approach him to stand since they think he will sort out the mess the country is in too.
Then once elected, the person does not change overnight. He continues to be a mediator. But now its National issues and mediation is not what he has been elected for. He has been elected for Legislating. Something he is completely incapable and ill - suited for.
This time if we really wish to call ourselves an awakened force lets not just vote for a politician because he has a familiar face or surname, lets vote because he knows what he’s doing.