Or should the vote be on issues of national security, national economic policies, national fiscal policies and other key national issues like national agricultural policy, national foreign policy and national educational policy?
The Indian Electoral Structure
The Indian electoral democracy is divided into three layers for selection of people's representatives. At the lowest level are the municipal corporations and municipalities for towns and cities while there are panachayati systems for the rural areas.
The basic work of a municipal corporation or a municipality is to take care of local neighbourhood roads, water supply proper, timely waste management functions along with proper running of basic health centres, maintenance and development of commercial complexes and markets as well as running of local government schools. Similar works for the rural areas are done by the Panchayats and at the district level by the Zilla Parishad.
At the second tier or level of electoral representation are the state governments represented by the Members of Legislative Assemblies or MLAs. The state government formulate policies for the state as a whole and MLAs do supervisory work to see that the issues of their constituencies are adequately taken care of.
It is the MLA who takes the issues of his constituencies to the respective ministries of the state government and also liaises with the municipal corporations and the Zilla Parishad to make sure that basic developmental works are done on time.
This apart, most of the major metropolitan cities of India have their own metropolitan development authorities like MMRDA for Mumbai, DDA for Delhi and KMDA for Kolkata, BDA for Bangalore who undertake exclusive developmental work for the cities and its suburban regions.
What is then the work of an MP?
Therefore the question that needs to be answered is if there are so many agencies to take care of local issues, should the election of the Members of Parliament be on local issues as well? After all, isn't it a fact that the MP has extremely limited stake or control on the issues of local law & order, or local Municipal work ?
Of course a proactive MP can make some difference to local work through interventions but there is a limit to that. And moreover if the MP too is to be elected for this purpose then isn't there too many people starting from the local corporator/councillor to MLA to MP for the same job? Isnt it like too many cooks spoil the broth?
Beyond local issues....
One has to understand that there are much bigger issues at stake than the mundane local drainage and road work. There are issues whose importance and ramifications many not be felt everyday but their overall ramification on the nation and thus on electorate, be it from rural or urban India is immense.
Thus, Lok Sabha election is for the purpose of electing a national government which would be concerned with national security, which would think about restructuring national foreign policy, which would deliberate on new fiscal and monetary policies and restructure economic policies and also which would make sure that ruthless actions are taken against organised crime syndicates and terror groups who are sometimes too big and too organised to be tackled merely the local police.
What happens if there is a weak government at top?
Weakening of India's defence preparedness may lead to Kargil type intrusions by Pakistan and China or may lead to 26/11 kind of terror attacks. Mishandling of the fiscal policy and too much wasteful expenditures through borrowing of limitless amount of money in the name of social welfare policies (with questionable impact on people) may lead to massive economic crisis through high interest rates, high inflation, stagnating economy and lower job creations.
Lack of proper sectoral policies and faulty resource planning may lead to disastrous situations wherein we find that due to insufficient coal mining and continuance of monopoly of Coal India as well as faulty allocation programme of coal mines have all led to a situation wherein in spite of having one of the largest reserves of coal in the world, more than 20,000 MW of installed capacity in thermal power plants remains idle in India for lack of coal availability.
All the above mentioned issues eventually result in terror attacks, high price of electricity, high inflation and lower economic opportunities. Needless to say that these issues cannot be solved by the local municipal councillor or the state MLA but can only be dealt by a strong national government which can only be formed by similar minded representatives who are elected by the people.
Therefore the questions that need a quick answers are --
Should people elect such candidates who would promise cleaning local road and solve local problems but would be extremely soft on issues of Maoism or would be against any strong action against terror groups?
Should the vote be for those who claim to be financially clean otherwise but sign mercy petitions of even dreaded terrorists like Ajmal Kasab?
Should the vote be for those who promise to have more ruthless laws against rapists and terrorists or those who fight for mercy for rapists by sighting dubious excuse of poor economic and social background merciless criminals to seek mercy for those criminals who never showed mercy to their helpless victims?
Should the vote be for those who are clueless about national issues and only understand municipal issues?
Therefore every Lok Sabha candidate, who seeks vote based on local municipal issues rather than national issues should ideally stand for municipal elections instead of national elections. And every Lok Sabha candidate who claims that he or she deserves the votes because of clean financial background should be asked as to whether their conscience is clean as well.
Those who favour referendum in Kashmir, those who seek mercy for terrorists, those who have sympathy for Maoists, those who are against economic liberalisation and those who seek votes on caste, creed and religion can hardly be called CLEAN and GOOD.
Lok Sabha Election is for a Strong Nation
Over the last one decade or so, India suffered immensely because of immense lack of decisive leadership at the top. Sanjay Baru's book has revealed further as to how much the Prime Minister's Office was compromised and the nation was being run by those who did not have the constitutional mandate to run the nation.
It is to be remembered that the vote for the local candidate is also a vote for the top leadership. No amount of good local candidates would help the nation if the vote for such candidates eventually means voting for a weak leadership at the top or a fractured mandate in the parliament leading to political instability, policy paralysis and anarchy.
Lok Sabha elections as it stands today is more like presidential type elections where the vote for the local candidate is more like the vote for the Prime Ministerial candidate of the nation. It is important for the voter to keep this in mind while voting.