Thursday, December 7, 2023

The festival of manifestoes and their manifestation

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Buddhavarapu Rajeswara Prasad

The dance of democracy is something that sparks unhindered enthusiasm among political parties as well as their respective cadres and the brass. Politics is an ever-fertile ground for anyone who has the right wherewithal to catch and cash in on flowering chances to penetrate the vote bank of his or her opponents. That is why, whether a party wins or loses, the urge to wipe out the rival ones or prove themselves won’t subside till the last chance of luring and winning the voter is exhausted and properly utilized. For this to happen, mere assurances or promises will no longer work.

The days of political parties banking on voters just by doling out assurances have passed. People are no longer gullible. Now they are demanding to the point of questioning, if not interrogating, the contending parties as to what they had done demonstrably and what they proposed to do for them in the years ahead. The percolation of political awareness and penetration of the media helped ring in this refreshing change.

As a result of this welcome change, we are witnessing a fiercely competitive political arena wherein all parties are vying with one another or outsmarting one another. There has been an outright rejection of manifestos by terming them as mere papers that have no sanctity of any kind and not at all binding on the parties that enlist promises in them.

In democracies, voting is a potent weapon to make or unmake things and to do or undo things. Potentially it is trust and credibility based, rather than one that is defined by promises. A party can come to power by duping people with hollow promises. The parties that keep their word in true spirit will have a chance to come to the people again. This is where credibility stands and respect for that party persists among people. In the five states that are going to polls, the festival of manifestos is being celebrated with a competitive rain of promises that blind people to discern reality and to rationally think what is real and based on rationality.

Had the political parties implemented the promises that they had made all along during the last seven decades, India would not have been like this and there would not have been promises like giving 5 kilos of rice and so on and so forth. This speaks of a lack of concern for the parties that ruled at the Centre and in the states hitherto. Majority of people still suffer from poverty and lack of income to lead decent lives. Given this stark reality, our parties think that freebies would be more than enough to ensure their victory. This again highlights the galling fact that wealth is concentrated in few hands, with most people depending on meagre income that is barely sufficient to lead lives at the subsistence level. This is where the lure of promising election manifestos works and does some kind of magic that dramatically allows political parties to find favour with them and come to power.

India is such a massively populated country that providing jobs to all the eligible is virtually impossible and efforts should be made sincerely to provide maximum people employment opportunities so that they can sustain themselves and live decently. Without addressing the basic lacunae in the system and removing the economic disparities in society, no government will be successful in its endeavour to achieve what it is aiming at.

Giving pensions and other pecuniary benefits can only give temporary relief. Once they lose their utility value, people will choose to depend again on the same source of income, instead of making efforts to switch to sustainable livelihood options.

It is the percolation of development and proper distribution of their fruits that is very much needed, rather than luring people with magical promises such as freebies and other pecuniary benefits. These will not have any sustaining values. This kind of financial appeasement might have some immediate value but at the same time, its value diminishes the very moment it is fulfilled. The case is the same again. Come elections, people expect the same kind of benevolence from the parties that are in the fray for power. The law of diminishing marginal utility applies to the election freebies also. Political parties must contend with one another to satisfy people with more and more valuable freebies and giveaways, failing which they may invite doom.

The point is pragmatism and practical mindedness can help society get intended benefits, instead of relying on occasional benevolence of political parties. We cannot say all political parties are the same and do the same, but the political parties that stand by their word and do what is needed for the people and society at large will have the luxury of having people’s continued support and continuation of their reign. The rain of promises cannot ensure the continuation of the reign but the practical mindedness in them is the only mantra of success and succeeding successes. Here is where manifestos and political manifestation matter. The cutting edge lies here.  Nothing more or nothing less.

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