Let ballots, not bullets, rule
It was no secret that the Naxals were going to try and disrupt the election process in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Bihar. And they did, leaving 17 people dead.india Updated: Apr 16, 2009 22:24 IST
It was no secret that the Naxals were going to try and disrupt the election process in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Bihar. And they did, leaving 17 people dead. The attacks, largely on polling officers and security personnel, were their way of expressing their unhappiness at people refusing to heed their call to boycott the elections. That people turned out in substantial numbers shows that they still have more faith in our flawed democracy than the Naxal version of rule through the barrel of the gun. True, the state and the political establishment have a lot to answer for the continuing poverty and misery of people in these and other states. It is no credit that 300 million Indians live on less than a dollar a day. People resent that and have made their displeasure clear in the fact that today, no politician can assume that he or she has a ‘safe’ seat.
The Indian elections are acknowledged as largely free and fair. It is only during election time that the voiceless get a chance to participate in the idea of India. That the Naxals have to resort to strong-arm tactics to derail the election process suggests that their ideology does not have as much popular support as they would like to believe. It is largely fear and anger at an absconding State that have driven people into the arms of Naxals. But the fact remains that the swathes of territory that are literally under Naxal control are no havens of prosperity and peace.
The alternative utopia where people power would reign is still a distant dream. Perhaps the Naxals and their ilk, who feel that the present electoral system is flawed, should try and reform it by participating in the elections. They should try and sell their vision to the people and see how many battalions will move over to their side. Or perhaps the bitter truth that long years of insurgency have done nothing to better the lot of the people in whose name they speak will be exposed. Unfortunate though the deaths of so many people are, they will not affect the onward march of the juggernaut of democracy. Many more challenges, especially those of security, lie ahead as more states go to the polls. The verdict may still be uncertain, but one thing is certain: each Indian election signals the triumph of our often anarchic democracy.