It is very hard to believe that the General Elections for the state Assembly is just a few days away. The carnival look associated with elections is conspicuous by its absence. There are no big meetings. You don’t see a cavalcade of vehicles flying past you. No big procession of candidates canvassing for votes. Life seems to be quite normal, very different from the festive atmosphere to which one is used to.
What has made all the difference? To begin with, the political parties and the common citizen were taken aback by the swiftness with which the Election Commission (EC) scheduled the election dates. While everybody expected elections by end-April or first week of May, the EC scheduled it a good two weeks ahead, thereby shortening the time available for political parties to prepare for the elections. This put a lot of pressure on the parties to close the alliance finalisation, seat allocation, etc. This shortened time saw the parties wrangling till the very last in deciding the alliances. Of course, it also provided good drama to the common public. The sparring between the alliance partners gave tense moments to the cadres and provided interest and amusement to the public.
The process of selection of candidates was also hurried. Some parties had to change the constituencies and the candidates. Some political parties were also announcing the list of candidates till about 48 hours before the closing of nominations. The alliance was struck on the last day of filing of nominations. Such was the pressure of time!
This virtually reduced the total campaign time to just about a fortnight and the lack of preparedness also saw less hectic activity on the streets. As the nominations closed, the cricket World Cup was also in the final knockout stage. The cricket-crazy nation was glued to TV sets and there were no takers for the political carnival. Even candidates were spending time on cricket.
The biggest obstacle to the frenzy of the election campaign was from the Election Commission. They had put in place several mechanisms to conduct a free and fair poll. Their drastic actions had reduced the manoeuverability of the parties and that took the fizz out of the electoral arena. No cavalcades. No big processions, etc., and the whole affair has so far been a tame one.
The last stage of electioneering would pick up momentum and see heightened levels of activity. But this would definitely go down in the history of elections in the state as one without much fanfare till almost the end of the elections. The timing, which more or less overlapped with the examinations and the cricket fever, has also done no good to the revellery.
I, for one, do not know whether it is for the good or not but I am certainly missing a great deal of entertainment.