Known devil or unknown angel?

Every election voters in the largest democracy face a major dilemma – whether to exercise their franchise for a known devil or an unknown angel? 

There are many good candidates with an excellent public service record that voters are not familiar with or have no awareness.
 
Then there are non-performing candidates who represent major political parties but are recognised personalities.

There are others from the film and corporate world, accomplished individuals in their respective industries, but have no record of public service.

And then there are yet others with family connections who represent lineage in politics.

As Election Day approaches, predicament of voters either to vote for a known devil or an unknown angel is palpable.
 
Many tout this as a change election.

Citizens covet a government that acts as a force for the good of its people and nation.
 
They want political representatives to respond to the enormous challenges facing the country on many fronts – economic growth, development, job creation and national security to name a few.

But invariably the psyche of the voter thus far has always been to vote for a known devil belonging to their caste or from a political party.

Indeed in a democracy, voters decide their own fate more than that of political parties or candidates. Hence they shun risk and do not consider unknown angels as a serious choice. 
 
Bangalore South, where a fascinating electoral contest is on the cards, presents voter dilemma at its best.

A five time Member of Parliament from the BJP is taking on an iconic Information Technology stalwart and political novice representing the Congress.
 
Unfortunately for voters, one is running away from his record and the other is running away from his party.
 
The five time parliamentarian has done little for his constituents in the years as people’s representative.
 
Vague response
 
On the other hand, the IT Czar is running away from the stated positions of his party.
 
Asked recently to express his views on the issue of reservation, he gave a vague response and needed several clarifications to his initial response.
 
In the garb of enhancing participatory democracy, he is busy soliciting ideas from local citizens to solve local problems. Never mind, this election is about corruption, economic growth, good governance, infrastructure and social development, price rise and tackling the ballooning subsidies.

Even on local issues, there are no proposals for out of the box solutions or new ideas.
 
He is banking on his stature, clean image and party apparatus to emerge 
victorious.
 
Most constituencies in Karnataka will witness a triangular fight with the regional force JD(S) trying to compete with the national parties.

Dominated by a family, most of the candidates are either party faithful who have been rejected by the electorate in the recent assembly election or party hoppers who were denied ticket in other parties.

Rather than fielding unknown angels as candidates who could be the future, the party is playing to the voter psyche by fielding known devils. With eroding popularity and no coherent message, it is solely depending on age old identity politics to appeal to the electorate. 
 
Nevertheless, with regional parties set to play a decisive role in government formation and expected to have a better bargaining chip at the table puts the 
voter in a quandary.
 
A fledgling new party- AAP- is also on the block. It’s a one year old party with one charismatic leader and a one point agenda which is to rid India of corruption. 

Created with much fanfare as a breakaway faction from the successful Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement, it will find it hard to stay relevant after this election.

After the hara-kiri it committed in governing Delhi, voters are in a dilemma if the party deserves a second chance.
 
With a noble intention to decriminalise politics and increase voter participation, the Supreme Court recently empowered voters with the NOTA option.

Judges in their wisdom thought this option to provide for political parties to nominate men and women of high moral and ethical values.

Although NOTA has no bearing on the outcome of the election, it is still a choice for voters.
 
The Election Commission during every election asks voters to exercise their franchise in a responsible manner. 
 
Voting for a known devil especially from an established party will signal business as usual.

If a message of change and reform must be heard loud and clear by the political establishment, every voter with a clean conscience must exercise their franchise in favour of an unknown angel. In the upcoming general election, it’s a risk definitely worth taking.
 
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