The contrasting elections held in Bihar and the US have earned praise for the Election Commission of India from all quarters. This is only one of the many Indian institutions that have built up a good record of performance, such as the Armed Forces, the media, etc. At the same time, though, there are major question marks against the judiciary, the police, the administrative and health services for having failed to meet the myriad challenges of the times. A lot is expected from voters when making their choices during elections that the criteria ought to be ‘vikas’ – judging candidates on all those factors necessary for development. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons – possibly valid at some point in time – merit has taken a back seat to the usual caste, community, vested interests, etc. The leaders that such selective behaviour threw up did manage to serve these narrow causes but hollowed out the system in the larger perspective. This has meant a growing inability among the governing class to meet the challenges faced by a complex country like India.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the breed of politicians developed by such an eco-system should have entrenched themselves at the cost of the nation. Consider the widespread loot of state resources that is being revealed in J&K’s Roshni Act scandal. It has continued for so long and in so brazen a manner that only downright and all-pervading corruption could have permitted it. That the voters, who could have selected leaders intelligently for their own good, allowed a few family run parties to monopolise power and resources indicates how thoroughly they were deceived by totally fake issues such as J&K’s autonomy and religious manipulation. Going by events in that Union Territory, it is obvious that a change in the political narrative is needed for an awakening among the people. Otherwise, they will continue to be duped for a long time to come.
Elections are the common person’s last resort to ensure any kind of accountability. Had the judiciary the ability to provide timely verdicts on wrongdoing, or the administration to nip misbehaviour in the bud using the many powers it has, the system would function smoother. Unfortunately, there is all round failure as evidenced by the latest scandal to explode in Bihar politics – jailbird Lalu Yadav trying to bribe JD(U) MLAs from his ‘resort’ in Jharkhand, where his party is part of the ruling coalition. He knows that it may be even a decade before any punishment is delivered in the matter. He has no fear of the law, the system or even the people, who were deluded enough to almost provide a mandate to his casteist and corrupt politics. This is once again a reminder that the people have to be smarter in their own interests when choosing the path forward.