I saw a report a couple of days back about the BJP planning a ‘mahayagna’ to appease the Gods for the 2019 General Elections. We are also seeing the BJP and the Congress bring Hindutva into the agenda for the Karnataka assembly elections. Rahul Gandhi has been on a temple-visiting spree and is having people in the Congress talk about him being a Brahmin. Is this really what people in the country care about?
I often wonder why political parties speak about issues that are irrelevant to people’s basic needs like food, shelter and clothing? That’s actually a wrong question. The real question is why political parties speak about issues that we feel are irrelevant to people’s basic needs. One thing’s for sure. Politicians are all shrewd, self-serving people. So, why then do they talk about things that we feel are irrelevant to people?
I think the rather troubling answer is that politicians would not talk about things that are irrelevant to many people. To many Indians, things like religion and caste are probably more or at least as important as food, shelter and clothing. Why else would politicians make these factors so important in the days leading to an election?
I think people value their sense of identity, their sense of being a part of a larger something - a community, a caste, a religion irrationally. They do not realise that at the end of the day these things don’t matter much at all. These things are probably fictitious structures created by our species centuries ago and have no real significance whatsoever. However, they have been ingrained so deeply in our psyche that we find it impossible to believe otherwise.
Politicians understand the way people think. They know that they don’t have to win arguments made in television debates to win elections. All they need to do is to win the minds of people which have so many demons, that they can pick and choose what suits them best. So, despite all we know, the agenda to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections may not be the so-called development plank that PM Modi and the BJP keep talking about. It may well be about emotive issues that don’t actually matter at all.