Polls sans street shows

The five-state assembly poll scene is warming up even as there’s no scope for street shows that usually punctuated the campaigns of major political parties, in the initial stage of nominations this time due to the EC ban for checking Covid19 spread. Chances are that the ban could again be extended. Leaders must be itching for action on the ground as they are the heroes of the season with flashlights of TV cameras in full glow. The problem, however, is how to gauge the public mood. The large crowds at meetings of top leaders are ‘organised’ with liberal use of party funds and hence the size by itself does not matter. But, the frenzy or the absence of it among the assembled crowd is indication as to which way the wind blows. This time, the campaign could mostly be in the digital mode and the mood of the voters is so far a guesswork other than for the figures held out in opinion polls.
What’s coming up in the form of a mini-general election is spectacularly different from previous polls also in that one major player, the AAP, has announced well in advance its CM nominee for two states – Bhagwant Mann for Punjab and Amit Palekar in Goa. This involved a calculated risk as the polity is deeply divided on caste and community lines across the country – a reason why other parties hesitated to do so, hoping to win votes from all. Both these leaders are socially active, Mann a popular comedian and Palekar an activist lawyer. The AAP decisions have changed the dynamics of the electoral fight in these two states, though AAP was so far a non-entity in Goa. No doubt, the trend was set by the BJP in the 2014 Parliament polls, which saw its PM nominee Narendra Modi flying from state to state and stirring up the public mood to his and the BJP’s advantage. Now, AAP might be putting the BJP on the defensive in Punjab at least on the strength of the same style of electoral heft.
The poll-eve floor-crossings, seen in Goa, Punjab and UP now, only go to show how unprincipled and selfish the politicians of today are. When it comes to promoting their own interests, no scruples stand in the way. Even family members, as in UP, are changing colours with the ease of a chameleon in the pre-poll days to win favour from rival political shades. That likely holds true of the son of deceased and respected Manohar Parrikar in Goa too.

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