Written and published during the 2000 General Elections, I keep remembering this article every now and then. While some of the mentions are clearly timed, most (not surprisingly!) are extremely topical.
So here goes: A reproduction of my comment piece (Yeh Dil Maange More) carried in the A.M.Plus supplement of The Morning News in the year 2000.
Yeh Dil Maange More
It’s that time of the year again… well to be precise this time should come only once in five years. But no! We Indians always want to break and better on our previous records. And so here we are – with yet another general election, in just over one year!
The politicians have succeeded, yet again, in making a mockery of the democratic set up in India. They have managed to cause yet another constitutional dilemma. The Vajpayee government at the centre has been bestowed the chance to enter the Limca Book of Records, by being the longest caretaker government in India. It is important to state that this eight months of care-taking will be the longest till date, and that there may be many more such caretaker governments in future to break this record.
The one good thing about a caretaker government is that the opposition no more tries to fell the government. This government will run the whole eight months without danger of being overthrown. If only our regular governments lasted as long as the caretaker ones! I think a couple of caretaker governments will do us a lot of good, for most of our regular governments last only months if not weeks!
The great people of the largest democracy are just too shocked to react. Though the so-called political analysts, who have to make a living, are quick to blame the BJP, Congress, Left Parties, and who not for the present predicament, the citizens are choosing to remain silent.
It looks like most of us, democratic Indians, and of course patriots at that, have already lost hope in the great leaders who are busy squabbling with each other to try and rule the country. No matter who the voter chooses to cast his valuable vote in favour of, no matter which party he decides to elect… the result is always the same.
The voter goes to the election booth and casts his/her vote in favour of the favourite candidate or party. But when the ballot boxes are opened and the votes are counted, a unique transformation occurs. Some parties suddenly become secular, while some communal – of course, we cannot forget the Left!
The voter is shaken badly, as his ‘mandate’ is termed to be ‘secular’ in nature, while the single largest party proves to be a ‘communal’ one! This is shocking for the voter for it is equivalent to have a government formed by five people who have one vote each, while the person with four votes is kept out of office.
Then again, it is not as if the largest conglomeration or combination of ‘like-minded parties’ come together to form the government. There is always a Jayalalitha, a Subramaniam Swamy, a L K Advani, a George Fernandes, and even a Giridhar Gomang who have the power to bring a national government down to its knees.
All the nuclear power generated at Pokhran could not help the BJP-led government to remain in existence. A government that lived through the onion shortage, could not survive the vote of confidence brought about by one huge (I not only mean in power, but also in size) lady from Poes Garden. All the Pritvis and Agnis could not protect the government at the centre. Two shrewd women were enough to uproot it.
The voter is justified in losing confidence in the whole election process. Like comedian and satirist Jaspal Bhatti said, we should have the 13th and the 14th Lok Sabha elections simultaneously. This, he said, will not only save enormous capital spending, but alsosave the valuable time and labour of the voter.
But the voter too doesn’t have much choice to choose from. Either he can cast his vote and bring a ‘communal party’ to power or thrust the reins of the country in the hands of an ‘Italian-born Indian’! This is assuming that the voter does not want a communist government at the centre. Now if we are seeking new records, this would be a first.
The consumer goods manufacturers are now targeting only one aspect to make customers buy their products – offering more value for money. Like the Pepsi ad that says yeh dil maange more, the citizens of this great country are also pleading with the politicians: “Please… yeh dil maange more!”.
All that we, the people of this country, are asking the politicians is: Please put aside your differences, please stop your squabbles, please stop behaving like kids… Start behaving like leaders, and do the one thing that we expect from you – rule the country, in a manner that befits a country as great as ours. Forget Ram Rajya and forget Rome Rajya… just give us a durable good Rajya.
PS: Basically I wanted to share the two paragraphs I have highlighted above, as again this elections we are already talking of post-election alliances… alliances of opportunity to gain power.