Campaigning for the Pune Loksabha elections has ended, so thought I would have a quick look at what was good and bad about the election campaign in Pune.
First, the positive aspects of the campaign in Pune –
- Most of the talk was about development issues. Religion and caste were not the most debated topics.
- Puneites have some choice. Many of the candidates are well educated and seem like fairly decent people whom you could talk to (not many constituences are that lucky). There were 3 to 4 candidates who I thought were worth following through the campaigning period.
- There was no violence and few hate speeches throughout campaigning.
- Many top national leaders held rallies in Pune. I think the Pune electorate is better informed this time than during any previous poll.
- All Pune election contestants had reasonably good websites, making it easy for the electorate to learn more about the candidates.
- Opinion makers in the city urged people to not blindly vote for X or Y party but instead vote for the best candidate.
- There was some talk of recalling the Pune MP if he failed to deliver. It’s not likely to happen but it was good that recalling an incompetent MP is at least being discussed.
On the negative –
- Corruption was not a major election issue. Corruption is obviously a major problem in pune civic administration and police but except for a couple of candidates, no one else spent much time on corruption.
- Money power was at work big time. Only 2-3 candidates had the money muscle to get full page ads and coverage in the press. The other candidates struggled to get the attention of the people of Pune.
- Encroachments are growing at a blinding pace across Pune city but these were hardly discussed.
- It was good to see that slum rehabilitation was an issue. However most promises were more populist than sincere.
- I am disappointed with the media. Some of the top newspapers were obviously biased and were consciously cutting out some candidates. A lot of the media worked like it was an intermediary and directly printed from contestant’s propoganda material. Hardly any tough questioning about known issues where X party or Y person has failed the city.
- Most of the assurances by candidates were not backed up with any concrete plans. The candidates talked of building better BRT, mono rail, metro and what not… but there were no plans to back up the statement. Whoever is elected will waste at least an year to get the plans in place.
- Although caste wasn’t a big factor, it certainly was used by the contestants. Appeals to Marathas, Brahmins… were made by several candidates. Caste leaders came out and supported candidates when they have no business or authority to do so.
Overall, considering India’s current election system I think it’s been as pretty good campaign season. One hopes that tomorrow we see a large turnout of voters from all segments of society.
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