Revisiting the voters’ dilemma or What Exactly Was That ?

Voted yesterday.

There were 3 EVMs with nearly 3 dozen candidates for Bangalore Central, the constituency for which I was supposed to pick a candidate to vote for. I was familiar with a couple of the candidates, and knew a lot more about the parties themselves.

For a while I was unsure of what to do. Picked the least uncertain choice, and felt extremely illiterate about the entire exercise.

Here’s a bunch of questions I have about the whole setup of State Assembly vs Lok Sabha candidates and elections:

  • Whats the “impact” of choosing candidate X to the Lok Sabha. To the State Assembly ?
  • What are the candidates rights, duties and scope of influence ? What issues can they raise/influence ?
  • Is the specific candidate even relevant for the Lok Sabha polls ? Why ?
  • Do candidates even have a voice within their parties during the functioning of the Assemblies ? Why is the concept of a “whip” permitted in a democracy ?
  • What mechanisms/ground realities exist for these elected representatives to engage with their constituency before they participate in debates and vote on issues in the Assembly ? Does the concept of the “whip” render this idea impotent ?
  • Should not candidates clearly pick and spell out specific agendas and causes they intend to pursue – obviously from those that are within their spehere of influence depending on whether they are representing the constituency at the centre or in the state ? Should they also not be working for these issues “off duty” – i.e. even when they are not members of the Assembly etc ?
  • If the possible local impact of a Lok Sabha candidate is low, whats the big deal about a candidate “from my constituency” ? I’d rather pick someone – irrespective of where they are standing for election from – based on the attractiveness of their thoughts and leadership qualities on issues that impact the nation or policy making, as a whole.
I am totally confused about the candidate vs party, and a little cynical about the inner party democracy in all outfits – if all decision making is decided centrally, with little consultation at the constituency level, its hardly important who the candidate it. In fact, you don’t really need “people” representing you if there’s little dialogue or impact possible – you can vote for the symbol/party directly.

Perhaps I’ve got a lot wrong – perhaps there’s just a lot of information gap. But to me, right now, it does look like the the mere exercise of franchise does not make for a healthy, functioning democracy on its own. There’s definitely much more to it, and I cannot imagine too much of it happening around me as it exists today.

Anyhow – good first step – maybe the next set of changes will start to happen soon. Staying positive.

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