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Performance Indices

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Most political parties are telling people what they want rather than going out and discovering their priorities. It may not be so important in normal times but is imperative just before the elections. Emotive issues are thrown up in the expectation that voters would get drawn into one or the other ‘wave’ that takes the politicians to power. In fact, the average politician, including MLAs and MPs, would be hard put to identify the requirements of their constituencies, or the profile of the average voter. There is also great dependence on last hour distribution of goodies such as liquor and cash to secure the ‘floating’ votes. This is why politicians are happy to have slums and migrants in their areas that can be wooed through such methods. In recent years, the bribes are offered from the public exchequer – a system perfected by J Jayalalitha and, presently, Arvind Kejriwal.

This leaves a very narrow margin for anybody actually wanting to bring about development and progress, particularly if it involves some hardship. It requires winning the trust of the people through consistency in behaviour and past performances. There are very few politicians of this ilk, putting a question mark on how Indian democracy functions.

This is evident from the manner in which Uttarakhand’s politicians are behaving in the run up to the assembly elections. Apart from the few with a solid performance record, the superficiality of approach is more than evident. Realising these limitations, the effort is to enhance the draw of charismatic leaders. The BJP has Narendra Modi, while the Congress is hoping Rahul Gandhi will fit the bill. Former CM Harish Rawat is eagerly offering to be his party’s face, but his colleagues don’t seem too eager to accept.

It is, therefore, left to the voters to decide by what parameters they will judge their leaders. How far has Uttarakhand come over the past twenty years in its political culture? Have people developed an understanding of their needs? Has the Corona pandemic changed the perspective in any way? Is there the understanding of how important it is to make the right choices considering how suddenly calamity strikes even in normal times? It would be interesting if the intellectual class draws up indices and, then, calculates what really mattered post the elections. Just for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. It might throw up some interesting insights.