24-Nov-2005

Laloo And Saurav

The inevitable comparison in this editorial form Hindustan Times. It also notes the anti-incumbency increasing rearing its head:
the macro picture presents a disconcerting fact that increasingly elections are not being ‘won’ by parties in India; rather they are being ‘lost’ by the incumbent. Barring West Bengal, where the word ‘change’ has become archaic in the context of political choices, most elections in the past decade have been negative votes. Among the handful of ‘positive’ mandates, the BJP’s victory in Gujarat was different to Sheila Dikshit’s return in Delhi because Narendra Modi rode to victory on the combination of the explicit slogan of ‘Gujarati asmita’ and the implicit plea of “vote me because I have taught ‘them’ a lesson”. Be it the case of the UPA at the Centre, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh or the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, all of them came to power because of the negative sentiment against the party in power.
It also notes that political parties become lethargic once they are voted out:
This brings us to the worrisome fact that political parties are increasingly getting struck by paralysis once they are made by the electorate to sit in the opposition benches. When the NDA ruled at the Centre, its best ally was the Congress and for the past year and a half, the BJP has spent more time to exorcise itself of ‘evil spirits’ than trying to combat the UPA government. Opposition parties have also limited their role to rumpus managers in Parliament and state assemblies while the more back-bending job of building mass movements is left to peripheral players — be it the jholawallahs, the anti-dam lobby or even Naxalites. We are thus becoming a nation of lethargic politicians who would rather wait for the adversary to make a mistake than try to take the bull by its horns. That even this strategy is succeeding must be noted by all leaders — especially Mulayam Singh Yadav, as Uttar Pradesh after Bihar might want to cast a ‘no’ against exclusivist politics and demand ‘development’ when polls are next held.
I think they are also struck by paralysis once they are made to sit in the government. Nothing happens for 5 years. Then they are voted out - anti-incumbency.