Siddharth Goyal
Voting on a single issue is a recipe for disaster
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

In elections, sometimes political parties try to ride a certain wave of sentiment among the masses. While the intent of the party may appear to be good, the ultimate goal of course is to come into power by riding on that wave. And when the party comes to power, it then narrows down its vision to simply satiate the desire of people to rectify this immediate burning issue, ignoring the larger picture, the results can be disastrous.

 In 1996, Bansi Lal came to power in Haryana. In what was termed as an election without a major issue, Bansi along with allies, BJP managed to make “Prohibition” a major issue as alcoholism had become a nuisance in Haryana. For all its worth, Bansi Lal was probably sincere about the issue as well for within a month of coming to power, the Bansi Lal government kept its promise and established prohibition in Haryana. And that’s exactly what the people thought would herald a new dawn in the history of Haryana.

 The consequences of this move of course were nothing short of disastrous. Loss in excise revenue, and mass trafficking of liquor resulted in the creation of new social problems where otherwise innocent young men were booked for intoxication and had to live with a criminal record for the rest of their lives. About 20,000 jobs were lost and several businesses associated with liquor industry, shut down as well.

 Of late, the single biggest issue that seems to have struck a chord with the masses in Delhi is the issue of corruption. The circumstances are similar and it appears that a number of people have once again gotten intoxicated by the desire to bring a change in the system so much so that they do not wish to think beyond this myopic vision and feel that once a certain law is passed, the city will completely transform into modern utopia where there will be no corruption and all issues shall be resolved.

The people promising this utopia seem to be in a hurry too. A new kind of liquor is being fed to win these elections. The liquor which paints all the existing politicians with the same brush of corruption – that will help the neo-politicians appear better. The people are loving it as they see it as a genuine assault against the existing political class which only has itself to blame for its reputation. It matters very little who is innocent and who is really corrupt. If someone sues the person who alleges for defamation, the slow judicial process can always be relied upon. (which should probably suggest that these new challengers will probably be reluctant to bring in judicial reforms.)

Where the proposed Janlokpal bill will definitely take care of the issue of corruption, the question is: Is that really the only single issue plaguing the city of Delhi in a big way today? And is it also going to take care of the other pressing issues as well. How will it naturally curb the electricity prices? Can’t Yamuna just be cleaned by engaging a private party to do the job? What’s Janlokpal got to do with opening up of new colleges in the city to cater to the growing demands of the population? How will it make the housing sector better? Is it prudent to conduct referendums to fix prices for essential commodities?

The Janlokpal unfortunately has very little to do with the solutions to these more pressing developmental issues. And not to say that it is bad, I do hope it will not lead to disastrous consequences as were experienced in Haryana under the circumstances mentioned earlier (Immediately it might lead to further policy paralysis as officers will think twice about taking any positive actions too as they will be constantly under scrutiny. But I think that’s something worth finding out). What is disconcerting though is that a section of people has indeed been blinded by the promise of Janlokpal so much so that they are willing to ignore the rest of these issues that need to be addressed too.

It is high time that people start thinking beyond the issue of corruption. Corruption, while being one of the key issues, is not completely responsible for all that ails this city. It is the inertia of the incumbent and insincere government which has been in power for 15 years, that is causing the city to not develop at a rate at which it should be developing. The policy paralysis of the central government is in part responsible for this inertia which encourages the state government to pass the buck from time to time.

If the city of Delhi is to develop to its full potential, we must consider bringing in a regime which has thought beyond the issue of corruption. The regime that comes to power should not only be honest but also effective in administration. The need of the hour is to change the regimes both at the state and the central level and bring in a party that can offer progressive solutions to all the above identified issues of the city including the issue of corruption.