View: In Karnataka, as elsewhere, the game of snubbing voters and subverting democracy is on

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It’s ironic, this. Congress taking lessons from BJP on how to subvert democracy. But here you have it, in Karnataka, after its poll results came out on Tuesday. BJP with 104 seats is the largest single party, but without a majority in a house of 224. Yet Congress, with 78 seats, has vowed to back JD(S), with 38 seats, to form a government.

Democracy, literally, ‘the rule of the people’ didn’t have many supporters among the ancients. They abhorred the idea of the unwashed, maybe-educated, un-propertied masses – and women – to have a say in grave matters of war and peace, policy and governance where serious, prosperous – and bearded – men ought to have sole say.

Well, in time, liberals came around and women agitated to have a say, and democracy – where each adult vote has the same weight – was born. It’s not perfect, but it’s the least worst way for people to choose who rules. Yet, you can cheat democracy.

This was apparent in Goa, 2017, where BJP won 13 seats in a house of 40 members, fewer than Congress’s 17 seats. So, the people wanted BJP out and Congress in, right? Wrong. BJP had its way, coaxing – or possibly, purchasing – the loyalties of winning lawmakers from other parties and scrambling to power.

It was also apparent in Manipur, 2017, where BJP, with 21 winning candidates managed to get its way in a house of 60, leaving Congress with 28 winners behind. How did that happen? Well, one winner from Trinamool Congress and nine from other parties simply switched sides – after people voted for them under their official party affiliations.

Now, in March this year, we had elections in another state in the northeast, beautiful Meghalaya. BJP doesn’t cut any ice there, but it formed an alliance with local parties, the most important being one called National People’s Party (NPP), led by one Conrad Sangma.

So, Conrad is the son of Purno Sangma, a former Congressman, who defected in 1999, and joined Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). By 2012, he was kicked out from NCP and formed his own NPP four years before his death in 2016.

By the way, Conrad’s sister, Agatha, was a junior minister in the Congress-led UPA sarkar, between 2009-2012, as a member of NCP. Delicious irony.

In the March elections in Meghalaya, 59 of 60 seats were contested. Congress won 21, NPP 19, BJP 2. So, BJP plus NPP were even steven with Congress, till other tiny parties and unaffiliated members were pulled in – and we got a BJP-operated sarkar in Meghalaya as well.

How does all this square with the idea of democracy? People want one thing and vote for a candidate who’s fighting under one party’s banner. That party is supposed to stand for some things that these voters identify with and vote for. Results come out, it’s neck and neck, and kaboom, the person you voted for, that party with those values, has suddenly crossed over. To a different party, with totally different ideas from what you have – and voted for.

For you, dear voter, wooed before polls and ditched afterwards, isn’t that a snub?

Well, after being kicked around for a while, India’s grand old party has learnt to get down and dirty – to mess with BJP the way it messed Congress up. So that’s the reason – despite all the tough talk by folks in BJP, Congress, JD(S) before numbers came out, we’re likely to have a khichri government in Karnataka. Ask yourself: is this the future?

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have governments that don’t win hearts but somehow get enough votes to stay there. Many may want to go out on poll day and express their desire for a regime change. Sure, but what can you do when the people, party and values you thought they represented flip sides? You’re then condemned to be ruled by a system that you did not vote for.

Alas, BJP’s sinister system of grabbing power at any cost has seeped into Congress. Savvy investors sense something about the awfulness of what’s happening: markets fell after the Karnataka verdict. In Delhi, governance is poor, ministers are ‘shuffled’, most are incompetent, opposition is as cynical as the ruling party.

Pablo Picasso speculated “Everything you can imagine is real.” Only you, person, people, voter, can do this.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Source: Economic Times