The Grand Cir­cus

With its pageantry, In­dian elec­tions next year may still look like a grand cir­cus de­spite the use of new tech­nol­ogy.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By S.G. Ji­la­nee

Posters, banners and mu­sic; flags, fes­toons and graf­fiti have been the usual stock in trade at elec­tion time in In­dia.

or a mega car­ni­val, given the pageantry as­so­ci­ated with the elec­tion cam­paign.

En­try into the Lok Sabha is the big­gest prize in In­dian pol­i­tics. Each con­stituency has an av­er­age of one mil­lion vot­ers whom can­di­dates must per­suade in or­der to win the prize. The rigor of the ex­er­cise a can­di­date has to go through has been chron­i­cled in a book by Maven­dra di­ver­sity. And the mam­moth, mul­ti­pur­pose poll is held in phases that last about a month.

Next year (2014), In­dia will hold its 16th gen­eral elec­tions since in­de­pen­dence. Can­di­dates have al­ready be­gun their ground­work. But, the en­tire coun­try will be elec­tri­fied once the elec­tion sched­ule is an­nounced. Ac­tions of can­di­dates will lend it the look of ‘The Great­est Show on Earth’ aka the Bar­num and Bai­ley Cir­cus of the Unites States, Singh who cam­paigned and lost in the 2009 elec­tion.

The first step is to win the nom­i­na­tion of one’s party; then “to can­vass for weeks and months in cities, towns, vil­lages and ham­lets; work­ing out voter ex­pec­ta­tions and de­ploy scarce funds, track the cam­paigns of ri­vals, make cal­cu­la­tions from hard data but also fol­low one’s hunches, give dozens of speeches a day in an es­sen­tially oral and visual po­lit­i­cal cul­ture, and fi­nally, to sift truth from

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