LS Election to become Presidential type contest b/w Personalities?

By: Pathikrit
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With the possible declaration of Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress, decks would perhaps soon be cleared for this election to be called a Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi face-off. The emergence of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP party has made some to state that it might eventually be a three frontal contest between Modi, Rahul and Kejriwal. A recent online survey conducted by CNN IBN put up some startling picture. The result of the survey showed Arvind Kejriwal getting 27.18% of the 46,850 votes while Narendra Modi bagged a near 69% of the votes and Rahul Gandhi ranking a third with 3.26 % of the votes.

While such online polls can never entirely predict the manner in which the people would eventually vote but it does give a bit of an idea of the mood of the people. And one important aspect that is clearly coming out in all such online polls as well as from the trends in the social media is that the national elections this time would be increasingly be fought on a presidential style with personalities more than political parties doing the round of discussions and playing a critical role in the voters' mind.

Interestingly, the impressive debut of Aam Admi Party in the Delhi assembly elections is predominantly because of the single handed image of Arvind Kejriwal. A substantial number of voters essentially also made it clear that they were voting for Kejriwal in the Delhi assembly elections and they would be voting for Narendra Modi in the national parliamentary elections.

AAP's impressive debut in Delhi poll is predominantly because of Kejriwal

This is an interesting departure from the past where people had loyalty towards political parties and would more or less stick to that party and vote for it irrespective of whether it is a municipal election, an assembly election or a national election. This time perhaps the voters are not just looking at the personality factor but are willing to keep aside their personal loyalty and vote for a personality which they deem the best to govern the country.

Mainstream media and social media perhaps may have played their part in bringing this interesting if not a paradigm shift in the pattern of people's thinking which may have an impact in the ensuing national election. It is not to say that the regional parties would not at all count in the forthcoming election. There is no doubt that many of the regional parties would have a key role to play in the formation of the next government since whoever comes near to the striking range of the magic mark of 272 would need help of regional parties for a stable government. But the moot point is that the regional parties who formed unstable governments during the nineties with outside support of Congress and many still fancied the repeat of the same with some rank outsiders with no national level popularity or mass support suddenly becoming Prime Ministers as was the case with Deve Gowda or IK Gujral may never happen again.

One can also witness disenchantment of the mass primarily due to the hands off style of governance of Manmohan Singh. Perhaps that may have triggered many to believe that a Prime Ministerial candidate ideally need to have a major national level popularity of his own but also the individual conviction to get things done in addition to being from a national level party.

It is not that in the past India never had this kind of a situation where personalities made a lot of difference. Yet the difference this time is that people are no more going for cult like worship of any personality but weighing his worth through credentials and achievements.

Presidential kind of elections may still be a distant dream for India but fact remains that personalities are here to stay and no political party henceforth would have the courage to fight an election be it a central or a state election without declaring a candidate for the lead job. Also the brighter side of all this is perhaps the fact that people would gradually come out of their caste and regional alignment and vote for the performer, be it at the municipal level, or the state or central level.

While chances are high for BJP to have considerable success in the ensuing national election, whoever eventually forms the government, the nation perhaps wants to see a personality who would have the conviction to take on the mantle with élan, lead from the front with a personal vision for the nation and accept personal responsibility wherever the need be.

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