Bridging the Divide

All the political vehemence intensifying over the past few months would finally find a sink in April-May, when India goes to vote for the 16th Lok Sabha elections. Even as the credibility of opinion polls, heralding an NDA-led government at the centre, comes under scanner in light of the sting operation broadcast by a TV channel which showed as many as 11 polling agencies willing to tweak results for a price, the outcome of recent assembly elections in five states, including Delhi, reflects the growing tendency of people to subvert.

That this behaviour of the electorate is not party-specific, and every entity on the political canvas today, irrespective of its past strength, runs the risk of being challenged by the elector, has significantly affected the pre-poll political shuffling. Leaders have, to a great extent, realised the obligation to justify the steps they take, and the U-turn’s they make. So when Paswan cares to reason that LJP’s alliance with BJP is issue-based, and would not besmirch party’s secular standards, you know he is not unaware of the public mood.

Similar sentiment has made the parties to rethink their policies as well. Modi, whose electrifying speeches have taken the nation by storm, has abstained from mentioning either the RSS or its ideology in his addresses so far. Congress also, facing the heat, is now pressing for more transparency within the party with Rahul Gandhi’s bold move to let party workers choose 15 LS candidates through primaries. Interestingly, the groups having de-centarlisation on their agenda are also not being spared the sword—AAP has been criticised on several occasions for acting immature and haphazard by the voters who brought it into power. These small developments are noteworthy since they indicate parting from the comfort zone, of administrators, who we know could be unreasonable at will, as was the case with Mulayam and his son’s handling of Muzaffarnagar.

The intensity of this emotion is varying though—from being high in areas lying around the epicentre of media coverage, to startlingly low in obsolete regions. Remote areas of Delhi, Haryana, and West Bengal house people, who, ignorant of the ‘outside world’, kowtow to the ruthless law of local panchayats, like trees to the wind. Lack of education has blocked the very few paths to reach these mystery locations, as opposed to their comparatively aware, reachable counterparts. The fact that such population accounts not for a meagre share of votes has widened the rift between evolving India and conservative Bharat. As the former, rather than supporting a particular political party, vies for select, good points in manifestos of various political parties, the latter presents a blurry picture in this regard. A unifying force here seems to be the fresh voters in the age-group 18-22, who, approximating-up to 180,000 per constituency, as per ECI, are increasingly shaking-off the indifference towards politics rampant among the youth earlier. The upcoming elections would prove to be a litmus test in deciding how far we have come in bridging this divide.