In the English media and in social media there is a lot of hoopla on the rampant corruption and abuse of power in the UPA government. Some mainstream news outfits read by India’s elite including the Economist and the Economic Times have gone so far as to declare that Congress will lose in the next Lok Sabha elections in 2014. However I’m not that sure and I have my reasons.
India’s literacy rate is 74% at the outset this might not look so bad for a democracy to function effectively. Don’t be fooled look deeper. Firstly literacy rate is measured crudely as the ability to read and write in anyone language and do basic arithmetic. The ability to make a well thought out decision isn’t a criterion as it is far more difficult to measure.
70% of India’s population lives in rural areas. The rural literacy rate is 58% most of these literates fall in the above said criterion on just being able to read and write. The well-educated are all concentrated in urban pockets.
Even with the averagely literate the information one could obtain from the media is not entirely unbiased or for that matter is rarely so. There are 1000s of newspapers and TV channels in the country. Most of them are run by political parties or their affiliates.
This documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeWE5O38tCM will give you an idea on why it is not so difficult to make the media talk what you want to. Most of our literates hence have little ability to find the sensible correct information from the clutter.
Now let’s look at how an average Indian makes an electoral decision on whom to vote for:
India is a land of diverse cultures and castes. This also makes it the land of reservations. If you look at most people who enjoy the benefits of reservations in this century are the ones whose dads and granddads were recipients of those benefits.
Any sensible patriotic Indian would want these benefits to reach the right people. However these well-educated and wealthy lot who were the forerunners in obtaining the reservation benefits don’t want that to happen. They want their sons and grandsons to continue enjoying those benefits. So it’s only natural that they want to continue with the community based reservations. Now who will tell the truly under privileged in these communities that their benefits are being over utilized by the elite in their communities? Whom will they believe? An outsider or someone from their own community?
Naturally the under privileged communities will continue to listen to the elite in their own communities who would continue preaching support for the political outfit which would not change the status quo. Thus a lot of communities are being handled by the self-centered opportunistic community leaders.
If you also observe election nominations you would see a lot of random candidates who won’t even get their deposits even in their wildest dreams. Then why do they nominate for elections? Anybody with any amount of influence in a constituency wouldn’t want to miss a chance to profit from this influence. Hence these candidates who command influence over a few hundred votes sell out their influence to the highest bidder. So it boils down to buying votes. Even if someone wins the winner can then be bought with enough money. Everyone has a price. It’s only a question of who could afford that price.
In both the above cases the community leaders and the influentials there does occur once in a while that someone is honest and a true well-wisher of followers. Here comes the muscle power to silence these true leaders and nipping them off in the bud.
Scams Vs Schemes:
Congress even if tainted by scams always has some populist schemes up its sleeve. It was MNREGA then the Food security bill now. There is a popular dialogue in a Telugu movie ‘Leader’. “People were happily consuming chicken biriyani. First you make the chicken inaccessibly then they will eat just the biriyani. Then you make the biriyani inaccessible they will eat rice with pulses. Then you make the pulses inaccessible they will eat just the rice. When you make the rice inaccessible they would start fearing survival. Now you announce free rice, you will become their God.”
A brief analysis of these schemes on our economy http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/economy/why-congress-rule-always-leaves-inflation-as-legacy_852706.html
On a final note there is this factor of brand loyalty. Haven’t you come across brands advertise themselves as ‘since 18XY’. It’s imperative that the older a brand the more brand loyalty it commands. This is even prevalent with educated consumers.
Congress with the first mover advantage and the getting used to or for that matter even creating the system of Indian politics always commands a much higher edge over anyone else in the country. Moreover it has in the process made enough money that none could match. If you look at the states in which Congress has traditionally been in power like UP or Rajasthan all the above symptoms are evident. So with its long lasting power the party has cultivated the flaws in the system to its advantage.
For all these reasons Congress is invincible. If you look at the only two instances of Congress losing power they were because of a severe leadership crisis. Nobody can beat congress but for itself. Unless there is divide or chaos within the party there is little chance that it will lose. Now with Madameji firmly in command I see no weakness/chaos in the party to lose the coming Lok Sabha elections.