Elections are more often than not a dizzying swirl of clamour and confusion in the days leading up to it. Politicians who by and large manage to stay inconspicuous throughout their terms set out to woo the general populace with a studied vengeance. Karnataka elections, by their very nature, don’t profess to be all that different.
But with the advent of social media in the form of twitter, Facebook and many blogs scattered over the web, more and more politicians are rising up to the importance of warming up to the young brigade. Careers are made and broken by a simple hashtag and they no longer pretend to be oblivious to it. Even the young people who had taken to treating politics and elections with a sheen of indifference are rising to what they now consider their duty.
Politics in Karnataka have invariably been mired in controversies and this term has had more than its fair share. As Chitra, an intern at a leading tech firm theorizes, these past four years have been a study in turbulent governance. She more than neatly sums up the scenario. After B.S. Yedyurappa leading BJP to an emphatic victory in Karnataka and introducing many welfare schemes , drawing in investors committing to around 5 crores at the global investors summit,2010, and even boosting the cultural scene in the form of Vishwa Kannada Sammelana in 2011, it all started to go down the wire. It started with the whiff of corruption in the form of a mining scam on Nov 2010 where it was alleged that he had favoured his sons in the allotment of prime chunks of land. This quickly escalated to Lokayukta stepping in and in a report submitted on 27 July 2011 finding the erstwhile Chief Minister guilty of not only the land scam but also an iron ore scam which saw the Reddy brothers, close confidantes of BSY, serve jail time. In the evening of 15th October 2011, even the mighty BSY couldn’t escape the close confines of jail and spent 23 days in a cell before being granted bail. To compound the beleaguered governments woes, two stalwart ministers were caught perusing porn in the hallowed halls of the state legislature, which till now had gained infamy only through its unruly and uncooperative occupants.
The goings on in Karnataka took a little steam out of the national BJPs campaign to go after a corruption mired Congress full throttle. When the situation could not be ignored any further, the leadership decided to replace the CM, but not without having to mollify him with promises of getting back his position and appointing a man he approved of. But things seldom turn out the way we want them to and it didn’t in this case either. DV Sadanand Gowda, the new CM had a mind of his own and didn’t take to being a puppet too kindly. With sounds of dissent rising, the BJP again appointed yet another man to the post, Jagdish Shettar.
This didn’t take long to turn old either. BSY flouted party orders and formed the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), stealing a few BJP ministers in the process but the government managed to hold on, barely.
Now, political uncertainty grips many of the youth I talked to. An alarming multitude of them couldn’t be least bothered, which throws up some pretty serious questions about the involvement and interest of the youth. But the few that did seem concerned had a difficult choice between bad and worse. It is heartening to see a city rise up to its civic duty and that’s how Bangalore seems to be.
Not long ago I had the opportunity to board an auto driven by a chatty, good natured young man who wore his pride for his state on his sleeve. It was just a few days after the infamous bombings and he repeatedly reassured me that this was a rarity in his city. He then began to expound on the virtues and sins of this past government and the looming elections. What depressed him, and me in turn, is that power seemed to corrupt whatever good intentions any politician had and that’s what, he emphasized, was the case this time. He shook his head sadly when asked about the chances of either party but said a resurgence of BJP seemed unlikely. Looking at the anti incumbency sentiment and the performance of the govt., I can’t help but agree. Another concerned citizen I managed to ferret out was Sunayana, an engineering student of age who looks forward to the entire process and finds it rather charming and exciting. For her the whole medley of accusations and counter accusations, party colours and flags in every nook and corner and the din of speeches and assurances are what turn a pretty tedious event into a full fledged carnival.
The big Players
Well carnival or not, this time sure promises to be interesting. With general elections looming around the corner, Karnataka has suddenly acquired increased importance in the eyes of both major parties. They fancy that a result here could cement or weaken their chances for a bigger fight. Hence the Congress smelling a victory has thrown its prime ministerial hopeful and reluctant prince Rahul Gandhi into the fray. Though his presence threw up an embarrassing recurrence of taunts on twitter, for who can forget #pappuInKar trending just a day ago, they hope for a Congress victory and that some of that victory sheen would rub off on the not so articulate, not very dynamic newly instated general secretary of the party.
The other big player on the other hand has left no stone unturned in its turn. Brushing away doubts and scoffing the hold of both Congress and KJP, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley have begun an aggressive campaigning that is sure to throw in a few surprises. Even NaMo, as Narendra Modi is often known, is planning to roll up his sleeves, for he too recognizes the immense political stronghold that Karnataka continues to be.
With all the actors lined up, the curtains have been lifted of what promises to be an intriguing contest of wits and wills. To sift through a quagmire of promises and declarations and get to the core of what each candidate can offer the community and state as a whole, is the need of the day. And for this reason, the power is said to lie in our hands. What we do with that power is entirely up to our intellect and discretion. So I sign off with the hope that this power can bring prosperity and stability to this great state.