October 10, 2012
Elections are a unique business, deciding the fate of some, reflecting, or denying the faith of
hundreds of thousands of those who cast the ballot. In the absence of a better or more effective
means to reflect popular sentiment, electoral democracy is the best system we have, we know
of no better. Money power, paid news and election spending are some of the 'undemocratic'
factors that influence the ballot and though we try, we have not produced an effective remedy.
As insidious if not worse is the creeping influence of hate sentiment and majoritarianism within
our electoral framework; despite some legal restraints, political parties across the board have
benefitted electorally from fielding men, and women indicted for leading mobs to violence
against our own.
A quiet verdict delivered by Judge Jyotsana Yagnik on August 29 put a brake on what might
have otherwise been the BJP, and their mascot chief minister's attempt to yet again, brazen out
2002. But for the verdict delivered and convictions read, we may have had Mayabehn Kodnani
in the electoral fray and Bajrangi used as an unrepentant campaign tool.
We've seen it before. The man who rose to become Maharashtra's chief minister and Lok Sabha
speaker had been named and indicted for rioting in Bombay in the late 1960s. In 1984, the
Congressmen named for inciting mobs were given tickets in the December election and romped
home from the capital. Post 1992-1993 Bombay saw the saffron combine, clearly named and
blamed by Justice BN Srikrishna in his report, field two of the ring leaders--an MP and an MLA-...
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