Poll Shenanigans

It took the moral and legal authority of its peer, the Supreme Court of India to tell the Election Commission of India that all was probably not well with the poll process now underway countrywide.

It is not that the CEC  is or was  unaware of the direction the poll campaigns of some major parties had taken – all for the worse. It  is not just the utter lack of civility that has  marked the poll discourse thus far. It’s not the simple things like name calling or setting rumors afloat but  the recurrence of the ugly face of Indian polity to remind us yet again that all’s not well with the Indian polity.

Indonesia I had occasion to record elsewhere, the world’ s second largest democracy, after India, has managed to hold its polls in just one day; ours seem so stretched out,  over the weeks  and still no end in sight; ours, it was said, was a liberal society and with election process controlled by a body that until recently had acquitted itself rather well.

An error of judgment, not borne out by ground reality. Like, the ruling party person Pragya the other day, was made  the saffronites’ choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. She was granted bail in the Malegaon terror case  and now launched as BJP candidate from Bhopal. Sad or modest she wasn’t as she signed up as the saffron candidate and launched as a party candidate.

The death of seven people in the attack still and launched as such by a gleeful group of local BJP ex-es.The Sadhvi is not free in he real sense, not yet; The case against her in the Malegaon terror attack is still on, thanks to the quick-change artistes of the National Investigative Agency who acceded to her request  to the court  to be released on bail: her future it could have been said only a few years ago hung by a very thin  line but to manipulative nature of our investigative system  SadhviPragya and most of her alleged collaborators have virtually been freed by the NIA in a stark volte face – given the serious charges filed against them as the perpetrators of the heinous  crime. And she, I repeat, is  out only on bail, the charges not having yet fallen in their entirety. Yet the Sadhvi was on fire yesterday in  front of TV cameras promising to win her poll battle against the Congressman Digvijay Singh, a former Chief Minister of MP.

The ugliness of our poll process has never been so brazenly brought to the fore as during the post-poll buying and selling of legislators to somehow get to the kursi. This poll campaign is likewise being fought  in a singularly  unethical manner and sadly the CEC has thus far chosen to act only on a selective basis causing genuine worries about the outcome Take as instance the “chowkidar chor hai” anti-Modi slogan coined by the Congress.

Nobody had objected to it in the  original or as amended by Mr. Modi himself. It had become like shouting bande mataram for Mr. Modi – this Chowkidar chor nahin hai. Now the MP BJP, in the midst of its poll campaign, noticed a false ring to it and asked the EC to ban the slogan. The EC promptly banished the slogan.

The slogan business though continues to be running a course of its own, with Mr Modi coming at the top of the heap as the man who coins a slogan with every wave of his threatening arms, made more awesome to watch by the zest he imparts to each such thrust, a nastier ones even more quickly. If this wreaks of possible havoc the ball is squarely in Mr Modi’s court and that of his unbridled forces. 

Mr Modi and his party continue to play on the media, the print and electronic, media houses, big and small, have virtually been forced to make a choice. Go against the BJP you shall be starved. Be neutral you shall continue to be. Oppose, you are damned, Literally so, Sirs..The Ayes are having it all their way  under the saffron dispensation.

Nayes are doomed and the abstainers  are a lost cause altogether.  Unrelated to this development but quite relevant to our times is Prof.Shah Alam Khan’s lament. Dr Khan is professor of orthopedics at All India Institute of Medicine; he sums up his dilemma  as a member of the Muslim community  thus: “It has been difficult to be a Muslim in India the last five years.

The risk of violence, loss of life, loss of property, the loss of dignity was much higher than other citizens, other than Dalits.” A frightening thought from a distinguished scientist, a top teacher-doctor to boot, probably spends as much time teaching as  tending to broken bones and bodies of members of the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities

Apart from giving us hundreds of well equipped ortho surgeons. Somehow, it has been no pleasure watching this election helplessly as the tastelessness of the campaign has unfolded itself. About the poll campaign itself  the  Supreme Court opted in favour of drawing the Election Commission’s attention to the abusive contours of the campaign thus far. Very nearly forgot to mention the day Election Commission did finally move against the bhagwa transgressions.

That was when the CEC reprimanded UP Chief Minister, Adityanat asking him in short to give rein to his vituperative tongue. But to be seen as even-handed the cEC also put short bans on public speaking by Mayawati of the BSP and Azam Khan of Mulayam Singh’s party. And the likes of the UP Chief Minister Adityanath  have no use for such admonitions as, say, a direction to abstain from campaigning for the party.

For a self-confessed priest like him God was handy enough and the to insured Sadhu-CM went to the nearest Hanuman temple the first night of his “silence’ to commune with God and his faithful around him. The Gorakhpur keeper of the math there, and appointed CM by Messrs Modi and Shah was back in the evening of the ban  at a very spacious Hanuman Temple selling what he is most adept at : his faith in the gullibility of the masses.