There is a reason I rarely write about politics, even though I'm hyper- aware of a lot of things that happen in that field- there are too many people on my link list who write so much better about it, and know so much more than me.
I also don't know too much about Sri Lankan politics, but this is a very powerful article written by one of those people I have mentioned above, and an even more powerful stream of thought... PseudoRandom mentioned in the comments section of said blog post about spoiling the vote. That's a new and interesting concept to me, since in India we're just trying to get people to go and vote... the new concept for the state legislative body election was to go to the election booth, and opt not to vote, in which case we could take a form and give our reasons as to why we were refraining from voting- exercise our power to not vote... it's always been there, but most people did not know about it.
The general elections are coming up in India, and this is a crucial time for our country- food is getting more and more expensive, terrorists are making a regular living off us, and the economy is sliding out of control... not to mention the ever present Pakistan, and now the even greater threat of the Taliban in our backyard. The Americans are sleeping, and why should it bother them anyway? It's the regular Indian that's getting battered, after all. We need a strong, decisive government that can steer us out of this mess, counter the threat of Taliban, and that of internal insurgency, and put the bread and milk back on our tables.
What the campaign suggests, however, is a horrible nightmare- a fractured polity, where alliances are being made based more on the petty rules of give- and- take, rather than national unity and integrity.
This article began as a comment to the article I have linked to above, but the thought presented there excited me enough to write a post on it. Spoiling a vote... what I take it to mean is that as voters we make sure there is no absolute majority, keeping store by the adage that tells us that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Such an experiment is not possible in India at the moment, where there are no guarantees about who will win, since unlike the current Sri Lankan government, ours has really not achieved anything that has put the entire nation in a mood of joyous celebration. Of course, uptil now, what I understood about spoiling the vote was to just put an ugly slash across the ballot sheet, but this will also not be possible in India anymore since we now use electronic voting machines.
In Sri Lanka, however, this interesting concept can be put to good effect, if enough people participate. This is how it goes- everyone there is quite enamoured by the Mahinda Rajapakse- lead government, due to their success in the prolonged civil war, and will most probably go ahead and vote for them, so my friend here has asked his fellow Sri Lankans to either not vote at all, or vote for an opposition party, so that a democratic system of checks and balances is maintained, and the current ruling party does not get an overwhelming majority, which he says has lead to much abuse of power in the past.
It’s a situation that has occurred previously in India- in 1971, Mrs. Indira Gandhi won the elections with a tremendous mandate, and became the Prime Minister. Four years later, the Allahabad High Court declared her election to the Lok Sabha void on grounds of electoral malpractice. The Lok Sabha is the lower house of the Indian Parliament, and a prime minister must be either a member of this, or the upper house to continue to remain in office. Since it banned her from competing in elections for six years, this decision effectively removed her from office. However, Mrs. Gandhi had then refused to vacate her office, leading to mass protests all over the country, and a state of civil disobedience. In 1975, to hang on to power, she declared a state of emergency due to internal disorder, and within a few months the entire country was under direct central control.
Well, you can imagine what followed- Mrs. Gandhi used the emergency provisions to grant herself extraordinary powers, and even replaced chief ministers from her party who had an independent power base with those who were personally loyal to her, most of the opposition was jailed, crippled the system at so many levels that she was able to rule by decree, and even initiated the clearing of slums around Delhi's Jama Masjid area, which allegedly left thousands of people homeless and hundreds killed, and led to communal embitterment in those parts of the nation's capital; Oh, yeah- the family planning program which forcibly imposed vasectomy on thousands of fathers and was often poorly administered. Of course, the press was also heavily censored. My parents tell me that the all the major national dailies had started printing newspapers with the editorial section left blank as a mark of protest, but the government couldn’t stomach this either, so the press was heavily bashed up as well.
After twice extending the emergency, she went back to the people, hoping for vindication, however, the public chose democracy over dictatorship.
Well, her story continued, and she came back once again to rule the country, but there, Dear All, is an example of how completely power can corrupt. I wonder what it would have been like if this whole spoiling- the- vote thing had been practised when she was originally elected...
There is also this other point about the on going general election in my country that I find quite amusing... well, the situation itself is not amusing, it’s just that elections time can truly change a politician’s nature... the Sri Lankan civil war has always been a touchy topic in the land of Tamil Nadu, but now that the band of terrorists are facing an ouster from the Island Nation it is even more emotive. People who were earlier clearly calling Mr. Prabhakaran a terrorist, are now a little more careful with what they say, and the focus has, of course, shifted to the Tamil origin civilians caught in the war.
Another interesting aspect to this is that the current central government is run by the Indian National Congress, whose boy wonder Rajiv Gandhi (very competent prime minister) was assassinated by the LTTE for openly supporting the Sri Lankan government over the so called ‘Indian brothers’. His son, and current poster boy Rahul Gandhi has clearly stated that he has no sympathies with the LTTE, and that he will never forgive them. The government has asked for Mr. Prabhakaran to be tried in India if he’s found alive. God forbid- I can just imagine the drama.
In fact, I hope the bastard is found with a bullet lodged in his brain. Life will be so much simpler.
In other news, I wrote a Financial Management exam yesterday, and I don’t believe I’ve ever written a worse paper. Thankfully, the look of shock was visible on every face after leaving the examination hall. There were even some tears shed.
Please, God, please- I must pass.
Dear Reader, I ask you, please pray for me.