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Choppy Waters

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India’s political scenario is hitting increasingly choppy waters as the General Elections approach. Parties are being jolted by high profile defections, mostly to the BJP. But the BJP is also not immune and is seeing senior leaders cross over, mostly those who are unlikely to get the party ticket. This is a blurring of political lines at a time when all parties need to project ideological clarity so that voters do not get confused.

In Uttarakhand, Manish Khanduri’s jump into the BJP fold has sent shock waves through an already demoralised state Congress. He was being considered the possible candidate from the Pauri constituency. Did he spurn that because the BJP offered the ticket, instead, and along with it the better prospect of winning? It may be presented as a ‘homecoming’ as his father and sister are in the BJP, but the party cadre cannot be expected to be happy at this ‘dynasticism’. The confusion in this regard should be cleared as early as possible so that the focus remains on the larger objective at present.

These tectonic shifts are taking place even beyond politics, and the potential impact can be enormous. An election commissioner resigning just before General Elections is an unexpected first. This would require serious compulsions to be in any way justified. It has given rise to much unhealthy speculation, which is not good for the credibility of the electoral process – particularly as the Election Commission has been among the best performing institutions over the years. The problem has been made worse by the fact that there was already a vacant seat of Election Commissioner. Appointing new ECs in a hurry just before elections cannot be considered a healthy practice.

The more confusion there is caused by external factors such as farmers’ agitations, court cases and judgements, EC confusion, etc., the greater opportunities it provides external agencies to try and influence the elections – an increasing threat worldwide. The BJP, which is considered the favourite, at least should ensure that the election is contested on the relevant issues, rather than be hijacked by extraneous ones. In fact, all parties should come together in this regard, as none is likely to benefit from confusion except for anti-India forces.