Guest post by JAYA SHARMA
In the post election bewilderment that continues to grip us, might it be that we are asking the wrong questions?
The questions are by now familiar. How can it be that a Pragya Thakur wins and an Atishi loses? How can it be that demonetization doesn’t translate into loss of votes? How can it be that the party under whom lynching of Dalits and Muslims becomes a norm gets re-elected? How can it be that hatred for the other wins over humanity?
In response, journalists, political scientists and writers have pointed out that our assumptions related to the significance of macro economic indicators, caste-based voting patterns, among other things, were faulty. But the questions still remain, including the big one: why did facts and logic lose so dramatically?
Might it be that the bewilderment continues because there is a glaring blind spot in the way in which we understand politics? Might it be that facts and logic were never the only driving force? I will argue here that in order to understand the recent election results and the power of Hindu Nationalism more broadly, we need the lens of the psyche. The play of desire and the erotic is key to understanding politics and dipping into our own sex and love lives can help us see this. ‘The personal is political’ mantra can come to the rescue in the bewilderment that we feel today. In making this argument I will draw upon research that I have undertaken for a book that I am in the process of writing called Fantasy Frames: Sex, Love and Indian Politics, to be published later this year. Continue reading The politics of Hindutva and its erotic charge: Jaya Sharma
In an earlier post we made note of the serious matter of unaccounted movement of EVMs in private vehicles in different parts of the country and the mismatch between the ECI figures for voter turnout and EVM votes cast, neither of which the EC has satisfactorily explained until today.
Now in a detailed analysis in NewsClick, Ravi Nair points out that even three weeks after the last phase of the election, ECI is yet to publish the “final data”, and whatever it has put out till now is “provisional numbers”. More worryingly, Nair points out that when glaring anomalies came into the public domain, ECI not only deleted the uploaded data from both Suvidha Portal and its main website, but also issued a release to say that whatever was published was “the provisional voter turnout data”, which was “tentative”.
However, the ECI never bothered to answer the fundamental questions: How did it announce winners based on these “provisional” and “tentative” data? How did the automated counting of votes polled in EVMs become “tentative”?
Read Ravi Nair’s article “ECI’s stance on data discrepancies: No right to question?” on NewsClick here.
Caution: Long read!
This is the elephant in the room, is it not? Was this “massive mandate” of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the result of a free and fair election? Should we continue to discuss this outcome – the scale of the BJP victory, the numbers of seats, the margins by which seats were won – through political analysis alone?
Rather, has not political analysis of the election become inevitably deeply influenced by these margins and these numbers of seats, by the scale of the sweep? In other words, the analysis is of necessity post facto, assuming that these seats have actually been won fairly, and therefore represent the views of the electorate.
I found very revealing a story by two Reuters journalists who covered rural North India extensively. Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav ruminate on how they could have gone so wrong in assessing the mood of the electorate. Although they say they never thought Modi would lose this election, it looked certain that he would return with a reduced majority. There was nothing they heard and observed on the ground that suggested the actual outcome. They conclude that next time they will travel even more, push their respondents harder, “be more aware of our limitations.”
Many seasoned journalists have the same sense of shock. But what if they were not wrong after all?
Continue reading The “massive mandate” of 2019 and the role of the Election Commission