The idea behind many of the high voltage campaigns in the run-up to Election 2009 was to get people to shake off their apathy and make their vote count. Many responded positively, especially from among the 570 million of the population under the age of 25. This explains why 60 per cent cast their vote, despite a scorching summer in an election that has cost the exchequer Rs 10,000 crore or $2 billion. In contrast, the year-long US elections cost $1.8 billion. The Election Commission has conducted this mammoth exercise in an exemplary manner, something acknowledged across the political spectrum.
All of this explains why the voter will be disappointed at the post-poll spectacle that does not seem in any way to reflect the spirit in which he voted. Before the contours of the future government have taken shape, indeed before the figures are out, we have the CPI(M)’s General Secretary Prakash Karat saying that the Left does not want to back a Congress-led government and at the same time will work to keep a BJP government out of power. This sounds like obstructionist politics to us. Then we have political worthies demanding that democratically elected state governments be given the chop in return for their support to a government at the Centre. Similarly, we see an unseemly jockeying for the top post even before the first ballot has been counted. In this display of Macbethian ambition, many in our political class seem to have forgotten that people voted for a stable government that could deliver on a better quality of life, especially in these economically fraught times.
We can only hope that wise counsel will prevail and the government formation process will not become drawn-out and ugly. If that happens, it will only generate further cynicism about the political process. If we had hoped that the youth would find some message that would appeal to them in this election, we were sadly mistaken. This could fuel a dangerous disconnect between young people and the political process. All the political formations owe it to the people to try and stitch together a government which can get on with the task of shepherding the economy through these troubled times and continue building Brand India on the world stage. Anything less would be an injustice to the people and their continuing faith in the great traditions of our democracy.