Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Day of Reckoning


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After a 45 day wait the seven-phase results of the election to the 18th Lok Sabha will be known today. This will also put to rest the assumptions and speculations about the results as the final tally will be known by late evening. Since the last vote was cast on June 1, last exit polls have been doing the rounds and all of them seemingly veered towards the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Some independent researchers have however contested these exit polls stating that those conducting it have not been transparent with the sample size and random testing methods. They also wondered how these poll analysts could reach the length and breadth of a country as vast as India in such a short while. TMC supremo, Mamata Banerjee has accused the exit polls to have been manufactured in homes much ahead of the elections. While this might be an expression of frustration, many other political observers also feel that this time the exit polls seem overly influenced by Prime Minister Modi’s claims and his exaggerated self- image projection.
That said the real counting of votes will give a clear picture of how different social groups have voted, the regional dynamics, and much more. Every news channel will have a panel of experts who will give their views. Although there is today a small section of the media that can be called ‘free and fair,’ the enlightened section of viewers can make their own conclusions. But India is a diverse country with large sections voting with their emotions and not reason hence they will be inclined to follow their biases and prejudices. The role of social media in this election has been phenomenal. It allowed citizens a free expression of their likes and dislikes about the political parties and candidates. Memes and YouTube videos with points and counterpoints flooded the internet. This election eased the constricted feelings of citizens under a regime that used all avenues to curtail freedom to criticise. Suddenly, the people appeared to have realised the strength of the vote and began to speak out freely. In that sense it was a “normal” election which should help mitigate lurking fears about the future of our democracy.
Coming down to brass tacks, it is evident that the opposition INDIA alliance has not been able to gear itself to take on the BJP and its allies on several issues. The Congress Party was too Modi-focussed. Besides the Party received a setback after its accounts were frozen on some untenable pretext. While Rahul Gandhi has led the charge against his arch rival Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and his attempts at undermining the democratic tenets of this nation, sections of the hoi-polloi supporting the BJP appear to be against the idea of a secular, liberal India and continues to believe that the Congress leans towards Muslims and gives them an unfair advantage in the distribution of the state’s scarce resources. PM Modi has unfairly castigated the Muslims in his speeches. Some of these bordered on hate speeches but the Election Commission remained shamefacedly deaf and blind to them. This is also one election where people have seemingly lost faith in the independence of the Election Commission of India because of the manner in which the CEC and his team are selected. As the nation awaits a new Lok Sabha and a new government to take charge, some have voted for change while others have voted for the status quo. That’s what democracy is all about.

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