Elections were boringly long and results are around the corner but as people born in the nineties, these elections were our first chance to observe how the democracy works from up close. Here are five things that have made this lok sabha election 2014 stand out:
#1 Rahul Gandhi has been rejected: Every time the electorate rejects Rahul Gandhi, sycophants within congress go out of their way to comfort him and hide his failures. It happened during UP Assembly elections 2012 and it has started to happen even now. But this time what has qualitative changed is that Manmohan Singh had categorically denied assuming PM Office in case UPA is voted back for a third term. Congress had also highlighted Rahul in all the publicity material without formally naming him as the PM candidate. Thus now when the verdict is tipped to go against congress, we can safely call it a rejection for Rahul’s leadership abilities. So much so that even the rallies which Rahul Gandhi undertook for congress candidates recorded a dismal turnout. The media has off late started projecting Priyanka Gandhi in a bigger role with Karan Thapar’s funny article romanticizing how similar is she to Indira Gandhi. But will Congress high command replace Gandhi with Gandhi that remains to be seen. One also needs to note that it is not just the congress or Gandhi who have lost the elections, the country is witnessing power shift on a major major level. With congress, left and centre of the left intellectuals will also go down at the cost of the right- religious right maybe but ideological right for sure.
#2 Social media game changer: Social media has come to assume a very important position this election. AAPtards, Pappu, Feku, NaMO, RaGa, NaMotards, Abki Bar Modi Sarkar- all these names were coined and circulated in the social media and have come to define the narrative of the elections for rest of the media. Just like CNN and later Al Jazeera changed the game of war, social media especially Facebook and Twitter have considerably changed the way elections will be fought from now on in India. Not just the negative potential of social media needs a mention here in form of blame games, bullying and propaganda function but positive effects such as greater transparency, free and fair elections (note the complaints of booth capturing and voter list removals that first found mention online) and direct interaction of the candidate with his constituency also deserve to be applauded.
#3 Youth: Exit polls have sort of predicted and political analysts have already started to give credit to Modi’s victory to youth. This was indeed a smart strategy where demographic dividend was intelligently used to win political mandate. India has a burgeoning young population and BJP’s campaign targeted it well. NaMo might not be as young as RaGa but his appeal found favour with youth who played well into BJP hands by voting for Modi.
#4 Caste Gone, Religion On: Yes! In urban areas completely and rural areas partially, people voted in isolation from their caste-based affinities. It became difficult for candidates to make caste-based appeals to win elections. Issues which are beyond the shackles of caste dominated the elections. Corruption and development were the most important points. With Kejriwal questioning Modi’s love for Adani and Ambani and Modi questioning the business acumen of Robert Vadra to create the kind of wealth he has. A very good aspect of the election was that development models were finally debated. Leaders might have simplified it to Toffee Model and Jijaji Model but use of a word as a intelligent as a development model is a truly welcome change.
#5 More American style:
BJP started the onslaught, BJP led the fight. If we sit down to write a narrative of the elections, we would notice that BJP set the terms of offence and Congress, AAP could only decide how to defend. Ultimately it became a Modi vs Kejriwal vs Rahul election. According to ground reports, while voting for BJP, people did not say we voted for a certain candidate or BJP, they said they have voted for Modi. This is a worrying trend as democracy is essentially about representation and mediocre candidates who will win riding on a Modi wave may not be able to represent the problems of their region adequately. This was more like an American-style election but sadly, it did not undergo any intraparty democracy first.