Voting based on issues

19 May 2013
Posted by Kiran

We recently came off an election in Karnataka and I watched with interest the proceedings and the result. The BJP successfully lost the only South Indian state that ever gave it a mandate and the Congress roared back to power.

While the new CM, Siddaramaiah, seems to have taken a different approach to governance than the first CM from the previous ruling party — atleast his first actions were something to do with governance and not a pilgrimage — only time will tell how effective the governance will be!

However, I can't stop thinking that we, the Indian voters, are taken too much for granted. And rightly so I regret to say. One look at the after-election analyses and you will see that the analyses are all about how the Lingayat vote was split thanks to a certain corrupt politician; not about governance, or the lack thereof. Every one of the commentators stressed on how the votes had gone based on caste. How losing certain members of the BJP had cost the party dearly in terms of votes from certain castes.

What's worse? That analysis might actually be true. People don't really talk about issues in Indian elections. I had watched the 2012 US Presidential elections as well. What struck me was how the debates, while still being political, were about issues — not caste. Yes, race does play a part in US elections but so do issues. Gun control, healthcare, economy, foreign policy; hey they debate about everything! And I feel that is a good debate to have.

The Indian media is all too happy to go along for the ride. Most of the analyses I mentioned above were carried out by that very media. Instead of focusing on questions about water-shortage, education, crime, corruption, infrastructure & roads; all we hear them speak about is caste. What a joke!

When will we Indians forget about the caste our neighbors belong to and collectively think of the issues that affect our community? When will we start asking our politicians the right questions? Questions related to where they stand when it comes to critical issues that affect us day-to-day? We are the world's largest democracy. But, are we being an effective democracy? No.

Only when we start holding our leaders accountable for issues will we truly become a democracy. Until then we are just a banana republic.