THE M-FACTOR IN THE GUJARAT ELECTIONS 2012

Fr Cedric Praksah SJ

Fr Cedric Praksah SJ

AHMEDABAD, (Fr. Cedric Prakash sj), 19 Dec 2012 —  The die is cast! Tomorrow at this time the world will know the results of the Gujarat State Assembly elections which were held in two phases: on December 13th and 17th, 2012. All indicators, as of now, point to the incumbent Government holding on to the reins of power once again for another five years. The moot question at this stage, is the margin of victory and if, they will better their best.

The people of Gujarat have to be congratulated on the excellent turnout which is surely a very healthy sign for democracy. There is an added factor that Election Commission had ensured a free and fair election. Whatever the outcome of the elections, one has to take into account the M-factor which has become institutionalized not only in the run-up to the elections but is a reality in the State today. Some of the dimensions of the M-factor are:

Majoritarianism – This has become a dominating fact in the Gujarat psyche, very specially in the past eleven years. There is a growing sense of exclusiveness among several within the majority community. Minorities are in the State to be “tolerated” and not as equal partners with equal rights and freedoms. There have been some cosmetic gestures, but that is all! The political rhetoric used during the campaign was clearly biased and meant to garner the majority community into a bonding among themselves, rather than towards greater inclusiveness.

Myths – You tell a lie a thousand times and people tend to believe that it is true. Hiring high profile PR firms, with their crafty spin-doctors, both in India and abroad to propagate lies, half-truths and myths can pay rich dividends. Enough is written about “paid” media and of how they conveniently obfuscate facts or pay down the reality. Above all, when the social and economic indicators on ‘development’ are challenged, there is a clear change of strategy which becomes personal and more vicious.

Muscle – Arrogant power is about might. There is plenty of evidence to show that fear exists among various sections of society, very specially among those who either have their careers at stake or just want to survive. Those who think or act differently are really not spared. A high point in the just concluded elections was a sitting MLA firing without provocation, on people who were apparently not going to vote for him.

Money – That plenty of money was used in the run-up to the election is without a debate. The hoardings, the full page advertisement, the 3-D act, the gimmicks and the freebies provided, would surely have cost a princely sum. But since corruption is by-and-large institutionalized in the State, there are ways and means by which the laundered money can actually reach the people in order to “buy their votes”.

Mask – The mask is indeed symptomatic of the malaise that affects a fairly sizeable section of Gujarat today. There are several who are too afraid to come out in the open and would like to hide behind the mask. These are those who would never want truth and justice to prevail. They are too afraid to take a stand so that the Constitution of India is safeguarded and protected for every citizen.

There are indeed several more M’s, but whatever is the final result of the Gujarat Elections 2012, unless the people of Gujarat come to grip with this 5 M-factor, there will surely not be any dramatic or overnight change in Gujarat!

(Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace) Email: sjprashant@gmail.com www.humanrightsindia.in

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