The Case of “Missing Crucial Issues” from the election campaigns of Indian leaders

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WIFM (What’s in it for me?) factor of India’s everyman is the biggest casualty of the 2019 Lok Sabha electioneering. Speech after speech, rally after rally, the pomposity if the political leaders, in whom are invested the hopes and aspirations of millions, can be distinguished by a spectacular lack of emphasis on the current burning issues of the elections.

In fact, if any outsider is made to hear the speeches underway, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he gets the impression that India is singularly lacking in problems. The only problem he might see would be that political leaders don’t like each other.

But then how would you categorize these: a climbing unemployment rate, farmer’s distress and suicide, unchecked air pollution across cities, some of which is among the highest in the world, an exploding population, growing economic divide, the state of secular health, women welfare and safety, crumbling urban infrastructure….

Don’t they look like problems?

Definitely, you would find some of these issues getting lip service from the politicians but what is all their passion, innovativeness and vigour reserved for?

Well, probably to take the pot shots at each other.

Want sample… During a speech in Siliguri, West Bengal, where PM Narendra Modi launched the West Bengal chapter of the election campaign, he called Mamta Banerjee, the CM of the state, a “speed breaker” (for development). He promised the audience that he would bring development to the state if this ‘speed breaker’ was absent. The irony of this cannot be lost on Indian voters as they experience deja vu vis-à-vis promises made by BJP in their election campaign of 2014.

What did Mamta do next? Did she decide to ignore such broadsides and focus on what people of Bengal elected her to do?

Her response came as she addressed an audience at Coochbehar in West Bengal as part of her campaigning and called Modi an “expiry babu” (someone who’s time is up).

This is just an example… the list is very long and keeps on extending with the passage of every hour in this election season.

If anyone needs classroom lessons in the pursuit of the needless in the season of the imperative, these episodes would serve as an excellent example. In reality, they are a startling testimony to the truancy of political leadership to tackle the burning issues and hence ease the burden on the hopeful voter.

These unending rallies of leaders which are full of obsessive lash out at one another have reached stratospheric levels. The time interval from 2014 to 2019 has been a period full of vitriol, jeers, and undignified remarks and of course, opponent bashing. The aspirations and needs of voters and issues of national importance were lost their way somewhere in between.

Where does it land us as a voter? What are we really listening to when we turn up at some rally? When was the last time a politician addressed your issues with conviction in their heart and truth in their voice?

When would – litany of pot shots, contrived acronyms and demonstrations of mimicry be replaced by discussions on communal harmony (Indian is a secular country, in case this fact is lost in the heat and dust of agenda chasing), improved healthcare, a cleaner environment, improved urban infrastructure, upgraded education system for millions of rural children, more job creation, real-time women welfare and security?

And finally, when will a political leader show the voter the path to harness their full potential? As down that path lies the true development of India.

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