After conclusion of Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, all eyes are now set on Delhi and Rajasthan. As Delhi goes to poll on December 4, political parties are leaving no stone unturned in order to get an edge. Delhi and Rajasthan are amongst those states, where the contest is primarily between Congress and BJP. The star campaigners of both the parties are busy with addressing rallies.  They are putting in extra efforts to pull crowds in their rallies. Overall, their speeches bear similar hue and colour. Apart from coming down heavily on the opposition, the leaders never forget to beat their own drums as well. Almost every senior leader is indulging in the mudslinging and it’s mainly due to this very reason, the numbers of complaints to Election Commission is increasing.

The statements made by the political leaders against each other hardly have any concrete facts to support these allegations. If BJP tried to rip apart Congress over the issue of corruption, the saffron party had to face the music as well when Rahul Gandhi took pot-shots at Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. On a similar line, the Chhattisgarh government also had to face Rahul’s brickbats.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi tried to pull up Congress on hosts of issues during his rallies. Not only did he question Congress’ ways and intentions to fight poverty, the Gujarat CM also claimed that the problems of hunger and poverty can’t be solved by merely framing laws. Modi stressed upon the fact that one needs to focus on ground realities and work accordingly. Modi’s hint was clearly towards the Food Security Bill, which is being presented by Congress as one of its major achievements. A similar scenario was witnessed in Rajasthan as well where the Gujarat CM tagged Congress ‘root’ of all problems. This was countered by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress vice-president called BJP ‘master’ of corruption.

In this race of delivering speeches, the leaders of both parties – BJP and Congress are preventing themselves from suggesting a blueprint to deal with the problem of unemployment and shape up developmental policies. If we talk about Delhi, a very shocking fact comes to light. 40 percent population residing in the national capital is still deprived of sewer and drinking water connections. Congress, which has been at the helm in Delhi for the past 15 years, is clueless over this problem. The party has not even made it clear that what they would do to solve these issues if it retains power. The BJP is in a more or less similar position as well. Their candidates never shy away from attacking Congress over issues like sewer, drinking water and cleaning of Yamuna, but have never been in a position to suggest any solution to these issues. The party needs to understand the fact that nothing will happen by conducting five-seven public rallies in a particular day and speaking the same thing repeatedly.
The gloomy condition of country’s economy is known to everyone. The sliding growth rate has made the situation worse. The problem of unemployment is one amongst these. The principal opposition party BJP has long been critical of Congress over the issue of corruption and policy paralysis. The party wants to upstage Congress from Delhi and Rajasthan but it needs to make its outline clear on development, public welfare, inflation fronts as well. Merely presenting the manifesto is not going to yield anything and it’s known to all that manifestos are nothing but a part of formality. During the poll campaign, the political leaders promise populist schemes like providing free or subsidized electricity, without even bothering about the fact that what kind of problems one will have to encounter to translate these promises into reality and make it applicable on ground level. Did anyone ever think that how much loss subsidized or free electricity will render to discoms and how this can be compensated?

A similar situation can be seen in the Food Security programme as well. These programmes are more or less an instrument to garner votes. By distributing free food-grains amongst poor, one can expect immediate solution for sure, but the pressure, it will put on the exchequer will eventually cost each and every section of society dearer. Like Chhattisgarh, several states have implemented subsidized food security programme effectively, but they will have to make up the loss from other sources.

Poverty is a curse for any civilized society and it’s a matter of sheer misfortune that in our country; programmes to uplift the poor are all about providing them financial assistance and food-grains at subsidized prices. No government has been seen taking steps so far in order to make the weaker section of the society self reliant. Free distribution of food-grains can not be a tool to eliminate poverty. The bigwigs of Congress and BJP can not even assure that they will work out on a long-term plan to alleviate poverty. The same thing can be said about the problems of social inequalities. Somewhere, the fault lies within the society as well, as it looks up to political parties to solve their problems. There are several ill-practices in our society, which act as major hindrance in moving towards the path of development and these can be corrected within the society only. An ideal leader is expected to inspire people to fight against these ill-practices. Unfortunately, the politicians never do it and especially during elections it becomes more difficult for them. Political parties are expected to show direction to the society and nation, but they never stand up to their responsibilities. It seems that they have forgot somewhere in the web of petty politics and forgotten what and how things should be done in order to motivate people towards nation-building. In order to strengthen democracy, it’s pretty important for the politicians to stay away from delivering hollow speeches. Instead, they should make their outlook regarding coming out with solutions to some of the key issues clearer and broader. The subject of debate should be related to developmental models and not on series of accusations, allegations and counter-allegations. If this happens, the voters will be in a comfortable position to decide that whose developmental model is the best.

An original copy of the article published in Hindi on December 1, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)