Friday, March 14, 2014

Does election campaign really woo the electorate?

According to the guidelines given by Election Commission of India, a candidate contesting for the Indian General Election is not entitled to spend more than Rs. 70 lakhs for his election campaign. But all of us are well aware of the amount of black money that is pumped into election campaign and invariably every campaign crosses the limit.

Indian general election is a money spinning business. Political parties and candidates sow the money with the anticipation that they could reap what is sown once they are in power. Now the question arises is, does the election campaign really woo the electorate? Each candidate spending more than Rs. 70 lakhs from party funds definitely would not be for serving the society or for charity. They got to reap what they have ‘sown’ in the election campaign.  

Perhaps a few decades ago the Indian voters had only little information about the candidates contesting the election and the political parties fielding them for the election whether it is for Assembly Election or General Election. In other words, probably election campaign was the only source to know about the candidates contesting and the political parties fielding them for the election a few decades ago. It was election campaign consisted of road shows; rallies and public speeches helped the voters’ decision process on who or which party should be voted to power.

As we are living in Information Age, we have all available information about the candidates contesting and the political parties fielding them for the election a mouse-click away. We can keep the track of their performance, what they and their parties have been for the wellbeing of the society and whether they had lived up to their well worded election manifesto of the previous election.   

Gone are the days when election campaign could really woo the electorate. I think the road shows, rallies and public speeches all are turned to be the thing of the past. Communication has become very much interactive, formerly the voters did not have a chance to communicate with their candidates but now the scenario is changed drastically.

The advent of news channels, internet, social networking sites has well empowered the electorate and they are very much informed and keep themselves updates with all kinds of political games and the unpredicted political U-turn that are taking place.  

The electronic channels, which keep the track of everything that the politician and parties announce, comment and do, work as a lie dictator. Whenever they make false claims on what they have already done or spoken, there comes the channel with the old video footage to prove the party and leaders wrong.

As commonly considered, general mass is no more a donkey. They are well educated, informed, empowered and closely watching politics and politicians. General public keep the track of the history of parties and their leaders. So even before the declaration of election, the decision process, who or which party should be voted to power is already complete. Therefore, the much hyped election campaign with false claims, achievements and false manifesto is no way going to influence decision process of the electorate and hardly woo the electorate.   

In general, election campaign fails to break the ice, break the mental image of political party and candidate that are already constructed in the mind of electorate. To bracket everything and look at the political party and candidate contesting the election with an unbiased mind and political stand is not possible. Each party has its strong followers, and they need not to be wooed at all in an election campaign. The result of any election could be swung to any political parties favor based on what stand the politically unbiased people (neutral voters) take in the election. If the election campaign can’t woo the neutral voters the whole campaign and money spent is absolutely a waste.    

Of course, spending Rs. 70 lakhs would help a large number of people directly related to election campaign to earn their daily bread. However, spending the huge amount in election campaign is more like pouring a little milk into a big river, after quite sometime nothing is really visible.

(The article is written in the political fabric of Kerala) 

(Image Courtesy: Google Image)

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