There are two main contenders for the post of PM. Narendra Modi has already declared himself, rather pompously, the winner of this election. The other is Rahul Gandhi. There are of course, a number of people who hope they will be able to contain the BJP enough to not be able to have the numbers to be able to form the government. Arvind Kejriwal, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Bannerjee and others genuinely believe that the BJP will not have the numbers and they will then have a realistic shot at Prime Ministership.
Strangely, I have not yet made up my mind on who I will vote for this election. I have strong reservations against each of the contenders.
Narendra Modi is currently the flavour of the season. It is considered rude, at least in my circles to say anything against him. Say one word against him and almost everyone around me protests.
People against Modi say that we cannot trust him as PM. If ever there was a situation that demanded that he be genuinely fair when it comes to Muslims, given his past record, we can never be sure what he will do. I do not believe that to be a problem. I do not believe he will do anything that is unfair to Muslims after what happened in Gujarat.
My real problem is that he did not do enough in Gujarat and willingly allowed / actively egged on the rioters, depending on your position on 2002. I believe that someone who is the Chief Minister of a state has the responsibility for making sure things like this do not happen. I do not want to vote for someone who at the very best, abdicated his responsibility entirely and at the very worst, carried out the worst pogrom we have seen in India. Retribution is my main reason.
Coming to the Congress, the corruption that they have institutionalised in the last ten years, the lackadaisical Prime Minister in Manmohan Singh and the thoroughly uninspiring PM candidate, Rahul Gandhi have probably thrown the Congress out of reckoning even before the first vote has been cast. Even senior leaders are looking for excuses to not contest these elections.
No one is really sure about the impact the Aam Aadmi Party and its maverick leader Arvind Kejriwal will have. I don't think anyone, even the AAP, believes that they have any chance of getting enough numbers to form the government, even with the support of others. But they will end up having a few seats and after May 16th, when counting is done, nothing will be impossible! Arvind Kejriwal had things going well for him until he formed the Delhi government. Sadly, he lost his way almost completely after that. He has squandered a golden opportunity at providing a genuinely honest alternative to the Indian people. I however believe that all is not lost. If he and his team mellow down, works within the system and stop shooting from their hips, they might still be able to gain the confidence of a larger number of Indian people.
The other candidates will find it very difficult to provide a stable government like in the past.
This brings me to the issues. At the end of the day when you do not have great leaders leading the teams, you go by the issues that are close to your heart. Most people have some issues which they consider important for them. They finally end up voting based on these issues. I have a few issues close to my heart. I might end up voting based on these.
One other option, espoused by good friend Kartik Thum, is that you should vote based on the candidates that are contesting from your particular constituency. Don't worry about who is the PM nominee. The Indian democratic system was designed for the voter to elect the local MP and then the MPs elect the PM. Let us be true to that system and elect the candidate we feel is the best for our constituency. This makes sense as well. I might end up doing that as well. I still don't know who the candidates are though. Once they are announced, I might actually do what Kartik suggests and vote for the best person in my constituency and leave the rest to him or her!