Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Indian politics: Reasons that people keep electing politicians, leaders repeatedly irrespective of performance

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It's often seen as a mystery that people keep electing non-performing or bad performing leaders and then lament, yet, continue to support them. 

I would start with an example. The story of a politician. This 'neta' or leader belonged to a group that was backward but members of this community didn't like the tag.

They felt that their community [caste group] was forward. This happens quite often, every group tries to find groups that are more backward to position itself as 'forward in comparison'. 

So the leader and his party were pro-poor and pro-backward. However, his own community didn't like him, as they felt he was pro-other castes. He remained in politics and after struggle, he became big leader. 

This was the turning point. Everything changed. His people fell in love with him now, the community was suddenly proud, even got too possessive about him. No personal benefit came for the members of the community in the long run either. This was 'Pride' Factor! 

All those years, he was agitating, they didn't even like him, but once he 'arrived' as big leader on the scene, he readily gets 'adopted' by the same community. So everyone in the caste group feels happy as if it is their own success, as if till then community was poor. 

Isn't it something about the inferiority complex too that we need success of someone like us to feel that 'our community too matters'. Even his decisions do not benefit and even hurt now, the community members justify everything. 

READ: How 'identity interests' override personal interests in Indian society and politics

They support him fully. They immediately come with such one liners: 'It's politics so he has to make adjustments'. Even in big failures or blunders, everything is justified, no anger or frustration, because ultimately he is 'own', a 'reflection of me'. 

The sense that due to him our community and in turn we have got respect. He is there, so 'a part of me in him'. A collective 'sense of kinship' or 'community pride'. Not just for representation sake. A new Thakur or a Brahmin, new Kurmi or a Jat leader is emerging, becomes CM or powerful minister, then it evokes such  sentiment within groups--OUR MAN, PRIDE. 

Other leader may do good, but he remains 'other'. A person who as leader or Chief minister brings qualitative change in lives through efforts or schemes will not be rewarded despite his work, as he is 'not your own'. 

READWhy rogue politicians, goons and musclemen are elected in India?

Historically backward communities have aspirations. It is understandable. But certain strong communities have leaders, still they too fall in this system, as t hey feel their voice no longer matters [compared to the past and their own hegemony], the past imagined as 'golden era' [not necessarily true].

There are groups that are numerically small but get higher representation, yet they're not happy despite progress. They are doing well but compare selves with 'other communities' in own cities, who seem doing even better. So that's a strange cycle. 

You elect leaders just for your 'identity', kinship and because you feel good that a person of your clan or caste or community has reached a point, even if he has no vision or plan and this doesn't even bring a change in your life. That's how these things continue, year after year, decade after decade.

[The photographs are just for representational purpose. It is not a reflection of their performance.]