Decency voted out of politics

Even before the counting of votes commenced to determine who proved more successful in the Bihar election the loser was “broadcast” to the Indian people. Dignity and grace have been ejected from the electoral scenario, votes have been sinisterly sought on emotions that divide and degrade society, apprehensions expressed during the campaigning for the Lok Sabha election last summer have been carried to their logical conclusion, or so we hope. For it is difficult to imagine the nation&’s democracy surviving if even further depths are subsequently plunged.

The concept of “popular” rule has been cheapened, and though the turnout at the polling stations did touch some highs, it will be the lows of the exercise that could determine the future political course of the nation at large. The argument of whether it was an Assembly election or a referendum on the Modi government could be unending, so too the adverse impact on what was shamelessly unleashed by communal elements: it actually imparted a benign veneer to the divide-and-rule theory. Poison pervaded the atmosphere and hate guided the finger when pressing the button on the EVM.

There have been personality-dominated polls in the past too, this one went beyond name-calling or character assassination – sadly even the Election Commission proved utterly incapable of enforcing the provisions of the now-toothless model code of conduct.

The opinion and exit polls confirm a neck-to-neck race to the “wire” that threatens to strangle the system the Founding Fathers had bequeathed the people. Regretfully the accusing finger points mostly towards the NDA. While there was little principle cementing the mahagathbandan, the shamelessness with which Mr Modi&’s development agenda was abandoned when the public mood appeared swinging the other way (courtesy the RSS call to review reservations?) caused the communal cancer to spread far beyond the election arena. True that no direct link could be drawn between the lynching at Dadri and the burning of Dalit children at Faridabad but it was the failure of BJP leadership to condemn, and cleanse, the polluted atmosphere that told a tale.

The same tale that is told by the government&’s refusal to accept or understand that the award-wapsi exercise finds roots in its brazen bid to inject saffron into academia, banish liberal thinking, and allow intolerance to spread so that a polarised electorate went to the polls. Whether the NDA “bags” Patna is of limited consequence, the Modi image has self-destructed.