The impending elections of India, which is an important South Asian country, is the latest event in the rich democratic tradition of South Asia. On this occasion, I join the pious citizens of Islamic Emirate of Pakistan in their dismay about India’s latest fascination with religious nationalism and religious identity-based politics. Around the living rooms, TV shows and street corners, whenever Pakistanis take a well-deserved break from “Is Sharia the best choice for whole of Pakistan or just the best choice for a part of Pakistan?” debate, you can hear their concern and trepidation that the Indian electorate might not make a choice that is religiously impartial, secular, multicultural and tolerant. To understand these issues better, I have presented an essential primer of the chief actors in the fray, so Pakistanis can make better and informed choices in the impending South Asian election.
Narinder Modi: The Burning Hot favorite.
He is the chief Minister of Gujrat and the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bharatia Janata Party. He is credited with rapid economic development of Gujrat. However, some people rightfully point out that if you take the economic growth of Gujrat, subtract the number of bicycles, divide it by the number of cows and adjust for the number of cricket matches played there in backyards, the resulting number is much worse than the national infant mortality rate. Which goes on to show that when really pressed hard, some math also does not share everyone’s enthusiasm about his skills as an administrator. Then there is the elephant in the room – Modi presided over a massive massacre of Muslims during his watch. No political party has ever won national-level elections after instigating religious riots not involving the Sikhs and a section of Indian electorate is determined to keep it that way. This might prove to be his greatest liability. I have analyzed his electoral prospects in greater detail here.
Political Advice: In the remaining weeks, provoke riots against the Sikhs. Might prove to be an effective tactic to confuse part of supporters of the other party into voting for you.
Rahul Gandhi: The Underdog.
Remember Bollywood movies where the underdog kid from the poor family stands toe to toe against the rich, dumb kid surrounded by a sycophantic coterie and you are moved to rooting for the underdog? Rahul Gandhi is like that. Except he belongs to the ruling party and is not the underdog. And he is rich. Is dumb too. Is surrounded by a sycophantic coterie and the other kid is from a poor background. Very confusing. The main thing is that for some reason he is the underdog — This bollywood movie is about a not-underdog, rich, dumb kid, surrounded by a sycophantic coterie standing toe to toe against a kid from a poor background, but somehow you are moved into supporting the rich kid. Very confusing. Moving on…
Rahul Gandhi arrives with an impressive and long resume. Part of which reads “Father, Mother, Uncle, Grandmother, Great grandfather, Great Great Grandfather…..” but his biggest asset is that he is not Modi and appeals to the “Please not Modi!!” voters. Which means that his party will not win any admiration for good governance either, which is his biggest liability.
Political Advice: Stop talking. Start praying. Talking only confuses your supporters into voting for the other guy. Praying might prove to be an effective tactic to confuse part of supporters of the other party into voting for you.
I recognize that all this can be very confusing and therefore have made a table for you:
If you say “But I dont like any of the options!! Why cant I just take a SMS poll of my friends and ask them who to vote for?!”. Well you are in luck. Let me introduce:
Arvind Kejriwal: The Joker in the Pack
Leader of the Aam Admi Party, the Indian equivalent of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (without the embarrassing love for the taliban, and without the confusing xenophobia mixed with foreign trips). His biggest appeal is to the “Please not Modi!! Too embarrassed to support Rahul” voters. His biggest asset is that he is not Modi. The consequent lack of impressive administrative credentials is balanced by the fact that is not Rahul Gandhi either and hence lacks horrible administrative credentials. The man without riots and without any governance record.
Political Advice: None. In fact, i’d like to take his advice on getting so many twitter followers.
Whatever be the choice, this elections will be keenly watched, contested and commented upon by the Pakistani polity who have always shown a keen interest on matters of good governance, democracy, secularism, multiculturalism and minority rights in foreign countries. One thing is certain, democracy will be the winner in this keenly fought contest in South Asia.