Note: This post was originally published in Model Governance on 13th July, 2014.
This year, India witnessed one of the most fiercely contested General Elections in its history. Shri Narendra Modi got both popular support and huge mandate from the public. This election was also the first general election where I got the opportunity to campaign and vote. Therefore, it will always remain a memorable learning experience for me. This opportunity also helped me to explore and understand the ground realities of the country better.
As I was growing up, I always used to hear that politics is bad and all politicians are corrupt. To some extent, the previous statement is true. Competitive Electoral Politics in India is still ruled by money and muscle power. Caste is also a big factor in some states. But, India is truly a land of diversity and divide. Though diversity is a good thing but divide isn’t. The divide is the biggest ground reality I came across this election season. It is of different kinds – Lifestyle, Access, Gender, Economic, Social, Political et al. I believe to bridge this divide, the government and society have an equal role to play. Politicians play a crucial role in the society and if all the politicians start working on the following principle – Politics is nothing but an instrument of socio-economic change, this divide can be bridged very soon.
I still remember my first day in college. Though I am a Commerce Graduate, but the first class I attended in college was of Political Science. It left a deep impact on my political thought process and college life. My professor asked “How many of you are interested in Politics?” The response of the class was not very encouraging, I had raised my hand but could find only 2-3 other hands in a class of 40 students. The professor replied “It does not matter whether you are interested in Politics or not but Politics is always interested in you”. This was an important lesson for me and this encouraged me to contest various elections in college – Student’s Union, NSS, Societies and Commerce Association. Contesting and participating in the elections enabled me to understand democracy in the real sense. I could connect with people, learn about their aspirations, desires, expectations and mindset.
This year, I decided to further my micro-level learnings and apply them at the macro level. The choice of constituency was easy. I chose Faizabad because my uncle was the BJP Candidate (now Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Faizabad), I have spent early part of my childhood in the city and spiritually very much connected to Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman. Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram is one of the assembly constituent in the Faizabad parliamentary constituency.
Covering the entire parliamentary constituency after notification of the elections is a very big challenge for any candidate due vast geographical size and population base. Therefore, the party organisation at Assembly, Block, Village and Booth level carries out the Campaign work extensively. Public meetings and rallies are organized regularly to mobilize the voters and display ‘show of strength’. However, the most effective yet time consuming method of connecting with the voters is Door to Door Campaign. This type of campaign is facilitated by one local villager who is the booth incharge along with a family member/trusted aide of the candidate. I fondly remember visiting around 60+ villages for Door to Door campaign. In this type of campaign, you get an opportunity to interact with the voters directly and understand their issues, problems and grievances instantly. Some people also share their achievements, desires and future expectations.
I can broadly categorize the problems and grievances in the following categories: Education, Livelihood, Violence and Discrimination. Now, if we connect the dots, it can be said that the causes of grievances and divide are almost similar. Therefore, if we work together to eliminate these causes – both grievances and divide can be tackled.
It is easier said than done! But, I believe – YES WE CAN, YES WE WILL.
Aditya Singh is the Founder of Agrasar Foundation.
More details about him can be found here: www.adityasingh.co