I don’t follow elections even though their outcomes dictate economic policies, which in turn determine the fate of economies. Given my interest in economic development, I should care about elections but I don’t. I also don’t follow the post-elections dissections of analysts mainly because I have better things to do but partly because I feel — incorrectly perhaps — it’s all a matter of opinion and conjecture. It feels like a lot of post-hoc rationalization.
But this piece from The Straits Times titled “13 reasons why the Congress won and the BJP lost” caught my attention. It seems pretty reasonable to me. It notes in the beginning that though there was a landslide victory for Congress in terms of the number of seats they got compared to the BJP (206 versus 116), in terms of vote percentages, the BJP’s share is not that shabby compared to the Congress.
Still the impression of an overwhelming victory by the ruling coalition is somewhat exaggerated. The Indian electoral system is a first-past-the-post system.
There is no exact correlation between the share of votes a party wins and the number of seats it gains, especially because there is no bi-party system.
The all-India vote shares do not in fact show a tidal wave in favour of the Congress. Between the previous general election and this, Congress’ vote share increased by just 2 per cent and the BJP’s vote share fell by around 4 per cent. The differential in the seats they won is disproportionate in comparison to their vote shares.
The 13 reasons the article lists sound plausible to me. It concludes with —
Five years in opposition should have led to soul-searching within the BJP and the enunciation of a clear strategy to tackle the Congress. That did not happen. The Congress managed public relations and the media better than the BJP.
The Congress managed the media better than the BJP for the simple reason that the Congress has enough money to buy the media. Now it will have even more money and buy even more TV anchors, reporters, journalists, etc., and those that it cannot buy — such as independent bloggers — it will gag and, like Mrs Indira Gandhi did to her opposition, perhaps imprison them.
I sometimes wonder. Do Indians collectively really like freedom and prosperity? The fact that a party like the Congress — a party which is against basic human freedoms, a party that is against development and progress — gets voted into power repeatedly makes me doubt that there is much demand for freedom and prosperity in India.
I think that the most important and enduring reason that the Congress won is that Indians don’t really value freedom and prosperity. The evidence? India has been ruled by foreigners for centuries and India is desperately poor. No freedom and no prosperity. The Congress party is not to blame for India’s disastrous journey after the British left. The Congress party is merely the expression of the will of the people and they will themselves servitude and destitution.
I am reminded of the words from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The scene is the trail of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. Pilate is disgusted with Jesus’s obvious demand to become a martyr and says to him:
Don’t let me stop your great self-destruction.
Die if you want to, you misguided martyr.
I wash my hands of your demolition.
Die if you want to you innocent puppet!
I cannot stop India’s great self-destruction. So I wash my hands of India’s demolition.