Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dilemma of Voters: Candidates versus Party

In each election there’s this classic dilemma among many voters about whom to vote for – the party or the candidate. Even if someone supports a particular party, still he/she might not feel motivated to vote for the candidate who is contesting in his/her constituency for the party of his/her choice.

 The classic example is perhaps a constituency in Bombay where the contest is between a Boston-educated graduate and a SSC-pass-out.  The former has been a professional and the latter’s profession was driving the vehicle of a local right-wing leader.  The former may lead to the perpetuation of dynastic politics, but the latter’s politics has involved an active discrimination and sporadic violence against recent migrants into the city of Bombay.  More conspicuously, the latter has been charged in small criminal acts while the former has been clean and has completed an active term.  In this case the former is from Congress and the later Shiva Sena/BJP alliance. I’m sure even if someone prefers BJP than Congress, but still in this particular case he might be confused with regards to whom to vote for.

Another example is from Bangalore Central, my constituency. The Congress candidate is an ex Commissioner of Bangalore and an IPS officer of impeccable credibility and track record – Sangliana, who had won the last Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket and eventually fell out with BJP recently on Nuclear Deal and moved to Congress. The BJP candidate against Sangliana is someone who had lost the last election he had fought in 1996. People of Bangalore have seen what’s the potential of Sangliana and knows very well how much he can do. Contrary to that we know almost nothing about the BJP candidate. I’m sure many such cases would be there across India.

So what should the voter do?

My suggestion would be unless the candidate is a criminal with suspicious track record you should go by the party because that’s what will make the difference rather than one exceptionally good person from a wrong party. After seeing Dr. Manmohan Singh we know very well what can be the fate of a good person in a wrong party.

Also we should understand that when there’s a strong candidate from any party, the opponent party won’t want to take risk and place another strong man. The fight between two strong men is always uncertain and no party would like its strong man to lose. So in most cases you don’t see the popular faces of parties fighting tough battles. This is true for all parties. Indira Gandhi, Jyoti Basu, Jawaharlal Nehru never fought against strong candidates. In this case it won’t have been wise for BJP to place important persons against Milind Deora or Sangliana because then their victory can’t be guaranteed. So we shouldn’t feel awkward to vote for a relatively unknown candidate of our party of choice against a more popular or better one from the other party we don’t like.

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