The run up to Indian general elections sure looks like a spicy Bollywood movie. Big actors from major political parties and their activists are busy hurling allegations at each other while the common people stand befuddled, waiting for someone to listen to their concerns.
Indian politicians are at the receiving end not only from their opponents but also from the public-online and on the streets.
Sameer Shaikh, is concerned about the way main opposition party-Bharatiya Janta Party(BJP) operates during elections. In his blog he writes about the three “nitis” or principles of the Hindu nationalist party, saying they use religion to divide people, push cash to win support and use racism to foment suspicion.
“Raam = When elections come they talk about Raam, the God who spread love. And Here under the name of the GOD several politicians are using it to get in power…. this has being BJP's triumph card to gain votes…. Be it LK Advani saying that Ram Mandir is what they wanted to always do or be it Varun Gandhi whose controversial speech has put him in jail and he is now held under the NSA (Threat to nation act).”
Congress, the party in Government, is also being criticized, especially the Gandhi family scion-Rahul Gandhi. Offstumped, which describes itself as focused on bringing a right of center reality check to Indian Politics, news media reporting and opinion through Blogs in English and Hindi writes about Gandhi’s “phony love for the poor.”
“The reality for these mostly poor and largely Muslim victims of the CPI-Mafioso’s tyranny of Nandigram was that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi let them down when they needed them the most by looking the other away at Buddhadeb’s Taliban Act.
As Rahul Gandhi goes about tom-tomming his phony love of the poor it is imperative to refresh everyone’s memory of those poor he let down badly in Nandigram by never fighting for their dignity.”
Communalism is in minds of many Indian voters. The issue highlighted by November 2008 attacks in Mumbai and violence against Christian tribals in state of Orissa.
Charakan, a doctor, writes about how communalism is being exploited to reach political goals:
“Religion, region and to some extent caste come to the rescue of the rich. So the Ram mandir, Maratha pride and Islamism are invented to prevent unity of the poor. The poor Muslim laborer is lynched by a mob for ‘preventing’ the building of Ram Mandir. The poor train passengers are killed by Islamist bombs as a revenge. The Bihari coolie is be-headed by poor and unemployed Marathi youth for Maratha pride. The rich laugh all the way to the bank.”
Caste politics, a mainstay of Indian elections, has troubled the people for long. Many blame political parties-from right, center, left and even those who claim to exclusively champion the lower caste population for abusing the heinous practice for political mileage.
Vikram Garg, a PhD student from Mumbai delves into the caste politics in India from an academic standpoint. In his post titled “Is Mayawati bringing the change India’s Dalits (people of lower caste) need?”, he discusses research carried out by University of Washington and Edinburgh in village of Nangal in state of Uttar Pradesh with 48% dalit population.
He says that despite all efforts made to empower the dalits, their situation still remains dire.
“Simply claiming Dalit self-respect is a legitimate but incomplete goal. In fact for most of the Dalits in Nangal the notion of respect and improving access to resources are deeply linked. Without the right access, anger is brewing in a cynical and increasingly desperate peasantry. This anger could explode anytime and India could be in for a few very bloody decades.”
This post is part of the Global Voices special coverage on the Indian Elections 2009.