Sometimes I think India (and I’m very much part of it) is the dumbest electorate in the world. While at the end of every election, the media goes ballistic on how mature the electorate is and how the people cannot be fooled, the truth is far from that.
It all began with Jawaharlal Nehru. What were his policies? Were they good or bad? Should alternatives be looked at? No-one cared. Nehru was such a gigantic personality, that the people voted for the Congress in general election after general election no matter what state the country was in. He would probably have been elected easily even if he had lived till the age of 100.
They say that the common man wants peace and hates war and that in reality war benefits no-one. But the electorate loves all-out wars.
Lal Bahadur Shastri brokered a peace in the Rann of Kutch. He was seen as weak. Then he won the 1965 war and was suddenly seen as strong, even though his policies remained the same. Indira Gandhi built her seventies rule on the Indo-Pak war even though it ruined the economy and led to the Emergency. The Siachen maneuver boosted Rajiv Gandhi’s image while the Kargil War put a spring in AB Vajpayee’s step.
Talking of the above Emergency, it was the Opposition which got the worst out it. What about the common man? He lived in a clean and efficient India where government officers did their work and trains came on time. Of course the common man hated the new efficient India and kicked Indira out at the first given chance.
They say the common man is interested in development: All he wants is roads, water, electricity, education etc. But pro-development Chief Ministers like SM Krishna and Chandrababu Naidu were unceremoniously shown the door. Even J Jayalalitha in her last term concentrated on development and was hence booted out.
Laloo Prasad Yadav had nothing to show for his 5 years rule. So he got re-elected. Then he had nothing to show for his 10 years rule, so he got re-elected again. The electorate loved his non-development so much that they even backed his wife, Rabri Devi, a total novice. When he was finally seen as an efficient Railway Minister, he was booted out both in his Centre and State as punishment for this new clean image!
In fact Mayawati after coming to power in Uttar Pradesh showed she could be as inefficient as Laloo. The electorate rewarded her with 21 Lok Sabha seats. The state that has shown minimum development in the last 30 odd years is West Bengal. So it is no wonder that the Left is the country’s longest lasting government there.
Now we have entered the era of Coalitions. That could also be because we have entered the era of the Confused Electorate, nothing else.
Of course, there are exceptions where the electorate has really made a wise choice. But there are so few of them that we could say that exception proves the rule.
The Indian electorate is always swayed by vague thing like sentiments, sympathy waves and communal/secular “images”. They are never worried about the real issues that concern them.
The Indian electorate is much like the stock market. You don’t know what really drives it and when and why it will suddenly crash.
© Sunil Rajguru