Eight issues that didn’t matter in campaign 2009May 14th, 2009 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS
By Ashish Mehta
New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Here is a list of eight issues that hogged the headlines for the last five years, but not as much as expected in the last two months of campaigning for the 15th Lok Sabha polls:
India-US Nuclear Deal
Time was when the government’s very survival was at stake due to the India-US nuclear deal, but outside of manifestos one heard of it only in passing during the election campaign. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani changed his stance from “we will review it” to “we will accept it”, while Congress leaders did mention it among the government’s “achievements”. The Left maintained its opposition to the deal. But it didn’t quite become a tool to move the masses with.
A series of terror strikes in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, New Delhi and finally Mumbai last year had the nation sit up and the middle class out on the streets in protest. In the run up to the polls, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only spoke in terms of “hard” and “soft” stance on terror and traded charges, particularly on the 1999 Kandahar hijack. But it was more posturing than specifics.
Global Financial Crisis
Though some sectors were harder hit than others, the slowdown is as much a fact in India as in the US where it became an overriding issue in the presidential elections. But the parties here hardly touched upon it, leaving a voter guessing how the next government would secure his or her job.
In 2005-06, the government extended the quota in education and government jobs to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), leading to nationwide protests from a section of students, doctors and society in general. And that was the last time the nation debated the reservation policy.
Industrialisation and Land Acquisition
Nandigram and Singur led to a spate of protest movements against forcible farmland acquisition for industrial projects across the country. The whole Special Economic Zone(SEZ) policy was debated threadbare. Political equations, at least in West Bengal, seemed to be changing after decades. But during elections, and the issue remained confined to the two datelines in the state.
The past five years kept crime reporters busy. Remember the kidney theft scam? Or rape and cannibalism in Nithari, or the BMW hit-and-runs or the Aarushi-Hemraj double murders in Noida and other killings in upscale areas of metros? But they were a non-issue in the polls.
Maoists, it is said, run parallel administrations in a large swathe of India. They have mounted attacks on officials, police and people with regularity. They have little regard for democratic parties - but the opposite also held true. Maoist rebellion did not figure in the poll talk of parties.
Always a sensitive issue in many parts of India, communal violence played out in Orissa and Karnataka last year and in Madhya Pradesh at the time when the poll schedule was announced. Subsequent election rallies, however, reduced the issue to “votebank politics” in the words of BJP orators like L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi and “protecting the secular ethos” in the words of Congress and Communist leaders.
Tags: bharatiya janata party, congress leaders, deal time, global financial crisis, government jobs, industrial projects, industrialisation, l k advani, land acquisition, lok sabha polls, manifestos, nandigram, nuclear deal, presidential elections, prime ministerial candidate, protest movements, quota policy, reservation policy, soft stance, terror strikes