17 October 2009

election update: same same but different

well, election day came and went, and it really doesn't seem much different than politics in the US. there were basically 2 parties, though they were both alliances. the ruling party is Congress-Nationalist Congress, which as i've said is the party of Gandhi. they've been in charge pretty much for all of india's independence since 1947, except for a brief period in the late 90's, when it was controlled by the BJP (bharatiya janata) - Shiv Sena alliance.
the problem with the congress party is that they are totally corrupt, don't keep their promises, and don't really do anything. the problem with bjp-shiv sena is that they are right wing and they practice the politics of hate; hatred against any religion except hindus, especially muslims.
few people are falling for the bjp hate politics, but some people like them because at least they keep some of their promises to the people (a similar problem to hamas in gaza; they are evil, but they are (or used to be) less corrupt than the palestinian authority and are perceived as taking care of the people better, although that can be argued).
as a result, very few people voted. in mumbai only 45% of eligible voters exercised their rights; amazingly, in colaba, the place where the terrorist attacks took place a year ago, the turnout was only 35% (source: hindustan times). and they even forced all businesses to close and give their employees paid time off. over 90% of malls, movie theaters, restaurants and hotels were closed until voting ended at 5:00pm, and they still couldn't get a decent turnout.
the reason, of course, is that no one expected any change. they knew Congress would win about 55% of the assembly seats, and that bjp would win about 45%, that the stalemates would continue, that the people would be ignored for the most part.
still, there was some nice stories: young people happy to be able to vote for the first time, one old woman who left her house for the first time in 6 months to vote; a man who traveled over 1,000 kilometers from his job, just to vote. but in the end, the results were as predicted, and life for ordinary Indians will go on, unchanged.

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