Why do we elect bad politicians?

View from London at 2019 Indian General Election

2019 general elections are fast approaching in India and one wonders, will the same happen again.

We Indians are a fairly well informed bunch. Every day on our daily commute, in offices, parks, neighbourhood political discussions happen. Every politician’s good, bad and ugly is digged out and examined in detail. One can say our national past time is Cricket and Politicial discussion.

But still after so much information and discussion we end up electing bad politicians.

What are the main reasons?

For the Young – learning how the world works

  • Lack of role models – Young people have their first brush with politics at college. It was the first time I saw the rough and tumble of politics at Lucknow University. Only Goons fought and won elections.
  • Dirty business – Politics was projected as a dirty business to put off students from even thinking about it.
  • Politics attracts wrong sort of persons – Most students see student elections as means to better educational facilities. Others see it as means to a full-fledged career in politics.
    All student union elections are fought with help of major political parties. As these students are the un-uniformed army of local politicians, who do their bidding.

Indian universities are poorly funded resulting in difficulty in attracting and retaining good teachers who can organise a proper and fair election.

Indian universities give the young Indians their first lesson of how the Indian democracy functions.

 

For the middle age – think they know how the world works

By the time we reach middle age when have seen a few elections, we have been fooled a few times and many may even realise that. Then how are we fooled again and again.

  • Part of the population truly believes that these politicians are truly good and they vote for them.

Voting public projects their beliefs and hopes on the candidate they are voting. Example: Modi ji development vote in 2014.

  • Part votes for them because they think there are no better alternative, this is achieved in number of ways:
  1. They project themselves as the only option.
  2. Voters trade off positives and negatives, like Modiji maybe a Hindu fundamentalist but he is not corrupt like the Gandhi family.
  3. As election comes near, politicians with help of Media launch an information warfare on the people feeding them stories which appeal to people’s biases based on religion, race , caste etc.
  4. They bring imaginary problems in discourse to make voters forget about the real day to day needs of Bijli, Sadak , Pani (Electricity, Roads and Water) to Mandir and Masjid etc.

Politicians tell them that only they can save the public. Like in India today which has a population of 80% Hindus, the ruling BJP politicians telling the public that `Hindu khatre me hai`(Hindu is in danger).

5. Close to Election Day, negative stories are printed by newspapers against a candidate to discredit them. Voters who know little about either of the candidates choose the lesser of the two evils. I was duped by this trick in 2012 London Mayor Election.

6. They spend a lot of money on publicity so voters just see them and their names everywhere; they make so much information available that voter cannot find out about other good candidates standing in elections something similar to DDos attack on websites.

  • Lastly, merchants and mob support bad politicians as bad politicians can make deals with them.

For the old – don’t care how the world works

Old are the guardians of community, young will follow their example.

  • Our society has also seen that corruption pays, corrupt politicians never get punished they hold their heads high in the community; penalties are small or non-existent and rewards high. Many old and intelligent people do not tell me that so and so takes bribes, they say he earns a lot (they have converted bribing into earning!). As if it’s hard earned money.
  • Many older people I have met have surprisingly very biased and uninformed views about Indian polity, so I think we have no help from this quarter. We have to think for ourselves what is good for ourselves.

 

Solution – 

All is not lost; we still have honest politicians.

  • Find out more about the candidate you are voting for, organisations like ADR are doing a good job in this area.
  • Vote and campaign for a good candidate even if you think he/she will lose.

 

Lest we elect them again!

 

 

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