Elections in India were very engaging for people in America, especially for the Indian diaspora.

Voices Friday, June 13, 2014 - 05:30
By Karthik Kandamuri So finally the perceived juggernaut of Modi’s campaign has become a reality, shocking the ruling dispensation and its cohorts. The longest and most noisy elections in the history of India ended with the anointment of the “Narendrabhai” as the Prime Minister of India. Does this make BJP, which had only two members in Loksabha in 1984, now with absolute majority of its own, credible national party of India? Let us wait and watch. While the election season was on in India, Primary election season started in America. The elections in these two democracies are not in an away common to say the least, presidential vs. parliamentary types being the first of them to make a distinction. Another significant difference between Indian and American elections is in the selection of candidates to fight elections.  While in India, candidate for a party is selected based on an informal process; though factors such as religion, caste and ultimately win-ability of a candidate, whether through money or muscle power play a role. In America candidates can prop themselves up based on their ability to raise funds, campaign and win in the primaries.  However, the main distinction is the diversity of issues which get debated in both countries prior to and post elections.  While in India the perennial theme has been the basic issues such as the so called “roti, kapada and makaan” in addition to the new dynamics like inflation, corruption, crime, transparency and governance or lack of it, the voters are targeted based on the social dynamics such as region, religion, affluence and ultimately caste.  Local issues do play their role in national elections except in this round of elections, where the choice was between Modi vs. ‘none’ from the other parties! In America, the main issue in upcoming mid-terms are the new health care law dubbed as ‘Obama Care’, which is being considered as a referendum on the so called ‘liberal socialist’ Obama’s policies followed by immigration, which is key to secure the influential “Latino-American” voter group, which helped Obama win his second term. Elections in India were very engaging for people in America, especially for the Indian diaspora. There were many groups in the Midwest which were supporting the parties such as AAP and BJP. Supporters and volunteers of AAP were present in every cultural and social gathering, soliciting registrations and contributions, though on a very low profile basis. There were host of ‘get together’ meetings organized to spread the word. The idea was to get the Indians living in America to call their friends and relatives in India to vote for a particular party or candidate.  Indian TV channels must have received one of the highest TRP’s in America the day results of Indian elections broke out. While many BJP supporters were thrilled and celebrated success, many AAP supporters commented that Mr. Kejriwal made a strategic blunder by resigning from power in Delhi. They felt that AAP was in a hurry and too ambitious, when they went national with a ragtag party structure, without solid performance credentials and spreading themselves too thin, resulting in them losing credibility and elections.  Results of these elections is a lesson not only for the Congress and other regional parties, especially in North of India, but particularly for AAP, which needs to focus on one state in India at a time. India is not going to be the same compared to last decade under the leadership of Narendra Modi. He has always been polarizing politician not only in India but also in America. While there are many Hindutva affiliated groups lobbying with US law makers to get a visa to Modi to visit America, there are other groups such as ‘Coalition against genocide’ and American Muslim groups, which were opposing it.  Expectations for the Modi government were summed up two taxi drivers in Chicago. Recently while flying out to attend a conference, I was driven to the airport by a Ukrainian taxi driver. He appreciated Indian democracy and wished that his country can unshackle itself from Russian control and become a true Democracy.  While I was coming back to Chicago from the conference, I was picked by a Pakistani driver named Ali. This politically well informed driver commented that what happened in Gujarat in 2002 under Modi’s watch happens in his country every day, which is shameful. He commented that good news for India is, elections are just five years away and people can elect a new leadership if ‘Modi sarkar’ fails to deliver! Ali was sure about one thing though; elections do happen in India every five years, with a smooth transition of power to the newly elected party, unlike his own country where Army reigns supreme over civilian government like the proverbial ‘Sword of Damocles’. The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.

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