Beyond mandate

Beyond mandate

FIRST EDIT

Before the last vote of the country was pressed into the Electronic Voting Machine, the toing and froing of parties has started and alliances have started opening up. Channels, backdoor and frontdoor, have been cleared and doors are being thrown ajar for new entries. Rahul Gandhi’s feelers are still floating in the air, Narendra Modi and Venkaiah Naidu are circulating in southern capitals and Kumaraswamy has hidden behind a transparent fig leaf to meet Sonia Gandhi. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti has already bolted the Third Front stable and the CPM has softened its position, with the voice from Bengal rising above the harsh rhetoric in Delhi. The voters do not know whether they have voted for the declared positions of parties or for the shifting sands of tomorrow’s unknown alliances. They will speak through the machines on Saturday, but the men and women will start acting in ways that suit themselves the next day, whatever the voice of the billion. Votes are just votes, and are of course sacred, but interpretation is free.
It is fruitless to envisage possibilities now, given the double and even multiple standards that might go into the works. All the regional satraps are in demand and they are proving elusive. The Mayawatis, the Jayalalithas, the Nitish Kumars and the Biju Patnaiks are all in the reckoning. In the mist that has descended in the hot summer, old profiles are no longer recognisable. Contradictions might pass for dialectics and might dissolve in the exigencies of the moment. We hope that the week starting Saturday will be long enough to throw up the last possibility and one more, clearing confusion, rewarding the willing Sarkises, denegrating the betrayers and obfuscating much of the recent past. In the meanwhile the voters will hold their violet ink stained fingers crossed.
But there will be a sense of relief and satisfaction with the mammoth democratic exercise spread over weeks and across diverse regions coming to a conclusion. It was sometimes marked by controversies, tension and trouble but ultimately the people can congratulate themselves for the smooth conduct of the elections. The Election Commission and everyone who was involved in the process deserve praise for that. The overall voting percentage at around 60, may not be very high but even in older and advanced democracies it is not much higher. There was no great violence and it is remarkable in a country with diverse kinds of conflicts. It may be because the power of choice given to the citizen is the best means to resolve conflicts.

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