As John Dewey remarked in his paper “Ethics of Democracy”, the ballot is not just a numerical representation of the citizen, but it also indicates opinions, ideology, and choices of the people. The ballot is a complex entity that brings together opinions, but unless the last ballot is cast and counted, no one can for sure say which side is going to win the elections.
The media in India is now running opinion polls and publishing the results even before the candidates have filed their nominations before the assembly election in Gujarat. The confidence springs from the unknown sources and it might be attributed devices that can tilt the elections in favour of the programmed entities.
The citizens have been suffering due to policies of the RSS/BJP Government and it is clear that the Government does not think carefully before going for major policy decisions. The RSS/BJP Government bungled with the note swap exercise causing enormous strain on the economy and common man’s life in India.
The way GST was enacted is interesting. The GST regime went 40 changes in since it was enacted and the government is now talking about radically changing it as it seems that revenue is not coming. The worst hit by the GST regime is small and medium businesses which are at the receiving end of such policies. They are being excluded from the GST regime slowly, but it will have negative effects.
Coming back to opinion polls, it seems that the media is a bit hasty about the opinions of the people in Gujarat. Gujarat is a caste-ridden state and caste-sensitive. The Dalits find it difficult to get houses in parts of the cities and the discrimination against the Dalits is common. It is normal in Gujarat to ask even the strangers what caste they belong. The Dalits have risen after Una atrocity and they are mobilised all over the places. Though they constitute just 9 percent of the population, they are not voiceless and they are in the forefront to fight the battle for their rights.
Similarly, the Patels in Gujarat are mobilising and the leader of Patel mobilisation, Hardik Patel, is asking for the inclusion of the Patels as OBCs. This movement has a huge political implication as the Patels constitute 19 percent of the Gujarati population. The matter is not light as sending similar throwback in Rajasthan, the BJP Government in Rajasthan is tabling a bill to give 5% quota to Gujjars in Rajasthan.
The question, therefore, remains: who will vote for the RSS/BJP? Apparently, by electing Ram Kovind as the President of India who belongs to Koli community, which is a powerful community in Gujarat, but classed as the OBCs, the RSS/BJP might gain their votes. But in the caste-ridden complex India, we do not know how the Dalit Koli from UP will be influential among the OBC Koils in Gujarat and Maharashtra. We do not know. And the media do not know. But claiming that the media knows and advocating that they know the outcome, it can be only part of the propaganda because opinion as such in Gujarat is muddled and surely it does not have a strong saffron tinge!
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist