THE Most expensive–and the noisiest–campaign in India’s political history is drawing to a close having aroused voters to a feverish  pitch.  It would seem to be a rule of modern media politics (Internet, TV and mobile texting) that the more expensive a campaign is, the more rank-and-file interest and participation it is likely to arouse. With 3D Visual holographs, 24×7 TV coverage, telethons, the huge rallies, road shows, corner rallies and door to door canvassing the exhausted viewer-voter apparently feels that there is very little left for him to decide on his choice of his vote.

But is it so?

Essentially the campaign has been a competition in images. Given the nature of the one issue, that is, choice is between those who dislike the incumbent Government and those who strongly oppose the projected appointed leader by the opponent.  The anti-incumbency is denigrated on non-performance related concerns by one and a false and weak model that would radically improve our lives as flouted by the other. That perhaps is the only issue on which the voter has to decide. If it was as simple we would have had a clean and healthy election bereft of below the belt (or navel) punches.

‘Concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while the concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset, they tend to be higher in a personality trait called orderliness and lower in openness. This means that they’re more concerned about a sense of order and tradition, expressing a deep psychological motive to preserve the current social structure.  If concerns for order and equality are relatively balanced, the individual is likely to be politically moderate; as either motive grows stronger than the other, political preferences move further to either end of the spectrum,’ George Orwell in his research paper.

“People’s values are deeply embedded in their biology and genetic heritage,” says U of T Professor and co-author Jordan Peterson. “This means you have to take a deeper view of political values and morality in terms of where these motives are coming from; political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of the issues.”  We are to choose between such’ role models’ who occupy vast space on the national scene with impunity and arrogance to spew out, inanities and innuendos every hour in the garb of sermonizing on issues concerning our livelihood.  They are projected as our leaders who are to guide our destiny for the next five years.

Ethnic, religious, social, regional and biological factors have been exploited in the past and this election is no exception, all other issues are non issues. Ideology and long drawn out manifestos have taken a back seat at this early stage; their future certainly is in the garbage bin. Those who do desire to break these shackles are vilified and their voice is drowned in a cacophony reverberating with personal harangue and harassment by their opponents thus forcing them to defend themselves on issues which have no bearing to the governance, welfare, progress and so on.  It is not far off when the seats of power will be reoccupied. Whatever the outcome, the path leading to this seat has been traversed with confrontation, divisiveness and hatred. A sad commentary indeed on our nascent democracy .

Please do remember that ‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.’—Max DePree