I am cynical about any new party that announces that it is here to better their country, that is for the country’s sake rather than theirs that they exist. Politics, like any other commercial venture, is an area that politicians join to make money. Power is helpful and an aphrodisiac, yes, but that power is used mostly to coat already well-lubricated wallets and bank balances.
A politician who declares himself/herself to be for the people is automatically suspect as far as I am concerned. I would rather see a politician who understands good economics and is ready to back their stands in the face of rising unpopularism, but I believe that this will remain a pipe dream. I loved the idea of Lok Paritran, though I did question whether it would be successful when it came to politics, its base of supporters were mostly the well-educated graduates who understood the importance of having similarly educated men at the top, who would understand the repercussions of introducing, say, a reservation of 21% for more castes. Unfortunately where they failed was in recognising that in a state like Tamil Nadu where the reservation is 70% and where people are passionate about Tamil, they could not afford to go around issuing manifestos in English. That was as good as not understanding the electorate they wanted to represent, of course, internal rivalry did not help them to further their cause. So, we still have the older parties comprising of feudal hierarchies where the heir-apparent is groomed to take over from increasingly senile leaders who prefer to play political pow-wow instead of focussing on growth, infrastructure, healthcare and education.
I also have a confession to make in the midst of this rant, I have never voted in my entire life and I am 28 years old. That is a sacrilege and I am abusing one of the rights given to me by the Indian constitution, but the reason I do not do so is because I do not believe in choosing the lesser of two evils. Knowing that I was one of the people who voted to get some of the current leaders in TN to the CM’s seat is unpalatable. And if you question my right to crib when I do not vote, I just have one thing to say – I pay taxes, maybe more than around 75% of the population in India and so I do feel justified in cribbing or ranting. More importantly, I do so want to see my nation and state prosper and to see lesser of the starved and agonised faces staring back at me everytime I step out. I agree that voting is a better option, but when I am asked to choose between drowing and suffocating, you will understand when I would rather not choose either.
It’s heart rending to know that I have the choice between a geriatric who rejoices in letting people know that he plans to change the Tamil New Year’s day (that has been celebrated on 14th April for ages) to Pongal because he believes that reflects Tamil culture better (I would prefer if he paid more attention to the state of the roads and traffic congestion as well as dismal state of public schools) and a woman who has been arrested and charged with corruption (and which I believe could very well be true) whose only virtue so far has been being an actress before becoming a politician. Sometimes, Chennai lags behind Mumbai when it comes to questioning and demanding rights, I remember the BMC’s plight after the July 26th floods two years back and compare that with the apathy that rules the regular Chennaiite. Trying to raise them to protest is tough, the reply that comes back is that it doesn’t really affect them anyway and why protest since it is the way of life to struggle.
So, I haven’t yet cast my first vote as an Indian citizen and I very much doubt if I will be interested in the polls this election either. Unless someone who really wants to make a change comes ahead, I would rather that my vote wasn’t counted for either leader. (Note that I have left out leaders of parties like the PMK for a simple reason, they will never get a majority in the next few years and will see themselves more involved in coalition parties to gain a bit of power).