Voters Perspectives on 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Dr VK Bahuguna

February 4, 2024, 15:04:03   

Voters Perspectives on 2024 Lok Sabha Elections

(The writer is retired IFS officer and Chairman of Centre for Resource Management and Environment a non profit Trust) The country is in the midst of RamLala Lehar after the Pranprathista of RamLala on 22nd January 2024 in Ayodhya by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and so far in just seven days more than 21 lakh people have Darshan of RamLala. The 22nd January 2024 as most people feel is the defining moment in the history of India and it heralds as the awakening of new resurgent, confident and vibrant India. Except for a few negative voices it also has the support of larger Indian society of diverse faith including Indian Muslims. If the people understand the consecration of Ram temple in correct context of history it will lay the foundation stone of a united society with diverse religious faiths marching ahead shoulder to shoulders. In this regards it is for the social, religious and political leaders to bury the past hatchets. Recently last week, a group of 350 Muslims went to Ayodhya on foot from Lucknow to have Darshan of Ram lala. However, will it be possible in the midst of high political stakes for the fractured polity of India due to ensuing parliament elections?  The Modi Government’s interim budget presented by the Finance Minister on 1st February 2024 tells the nation eloquently what has been achieved during last 10 years of BJP rule. The opposition decried the budget on political ground. The country should take the ensuing Lok Sabha elections in 2024 in a positive frame work and despite the opposition parties singing a tune of blind opposition to Modi and the BJP, it is imperative that country’s informed citizens discuss the emerging issues which are necessary for forging united action by all political parties so that welfare of the people is ensured and India becomes a global power once again.

 One of the burning issues the voters should think of is to seek an assurance from political parties how to make our elected representatives responsive and sensitive to public needs across the political spectrum of the country. Politics as the several raids and arrests of high constitutional dignitaries the nation is seeing for quite some time cannot be brushed aside only as political vendetta. All public figures must be above suspicion and there should be a transparent and independent mechanism outside the government to monitor the probity in public life because what we see today in the country is politicization of these arrests and raids. Many politicians openly incite the people and act contrary to our national unity and integrity and for this purpose they receive foreign funds and foment trouble by encasing the fault lines in our fragmented society. On the one hand it gives an impression that people in high offices can immediately seek public empathy by terming action against them as vendetta and in this process the government agencies are defamed and the issue is confused so that they can get away from their misdeeds and that too despite glaring proofs. On the other hand some time it is also true that corrupt officers in government agencies also misuse their powers as well as politicians do. Therefore, and independent ‘ombudsman’ on the pattern of banking ombudsman should be created both at the national as well as state levels to take cognizance of corruption/misuse of powers by high constitutional dignitaries to be guaranteed by constitutional provisions with adequate legal backing as also with a provision of severe punishment like 20 to 25 years of imprisonment for falsification of events in order to torment and defame the people occupying high offices and to seek publicity with ulterior motives. The so called Lokpal system has completely failed to enforce accountability among the public servants as well as politicians. The whistle blowers provisions are blatantly misused by the cunning people proclaiming as saviours of law.

Now the second issue public needs assurances from political parties is on safe guarding the country from the planned infiltration in border areas and none of the political parties and their workers are serious on this issue. Uttarakhand is one such state which is facing demographic explosion. We need a population control policy along with zero tolerance for any infiltration. Most of the infiltrators obtain citizenship with political backing due to vote bank politics. This is akin to termites eating into our democratic fibre. For registering new voters the Aaadhar Cards and Voter id should only be made after the Sub-Divisional Magistrate certifies the resident status of the applicants. Election Commission must come out with a revised procedure for registering voters. All infiltrators should be identified and deported and made stateless. Election Commission can have a digital system which identifies voters once registered anywhere in the past so that when they want to register at a new place there is no difficulty. 

The third pertinent issue relates to farmers welfare as the farming due to continuous fragmentation of land is becoming unsustainable and unattractive for the young children of the farmers as more than 85 % of the farmers are small and marginal. Further, during last 12 years the net sowing area has reduced from 143 million ha to 141 million ha thus more than 20 lakh hectares have been diverted and the process is still on. Further, the climatic variations have put a question mark on our crop yield and cycle. A very serious thought need to be given if we bring a law to ban diversion of good agriculture land for non agriculture use.  In the quest for development rampant diversion of agriculture land is going on. Use of better technology for more productivity cannot be cited as offsetting the diversion of land. A well planned land use policy should be in place. Innovative dialogues with farmers to increase their income through agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and better water use should be the priority of political parties seeking votes. 

The fourth issue I would like to put before the voters is to ask all political parties for implementation of Article 14 on Equality in its true spirit as the people find its implementation skewed in all walks of life due to political expediency and lack of foresight. A large part of marginal sections are still unable to take advantage of Article `16 (4) because of this many organizations are demanding status of a family below poverty line should be the criteria of reservation in govt jobs thus most of the marginal sections will be then covered else a quota with quota system be introduced for those who are yet to fundamentals benefit. The other fundamental rights must be implemented along with the directive principles and duties as elucidated in Article 51 ‘A’ of the constitution but misuse of right is also an issue which need attention. At least on these issues there should be consensus and I implore all parties to give some thoughts to these suggestions in the national interests.