The 15th Lok Sabha Elections THE BATTLE BEYOND THE BALLOT At the abstract level the concept of a national suffrage has a certain majesty: so many hundreds of millions marching into the booths and exercising their free choice. It is an assertion of the sovereignty of free people; they choose, they decide, they indicate their preference within the sacred precincts of the polling booth. They press the EVM's button and make and unmake kings. Elections are thus a proclamation of equal sovereignty. So goes the theory. The multitudes of Indians who'll march to the polling booths during the next one month or more represent the nation's dispossessed. When they cast their votes they will not be thinking primarily about the grand abstractions like "communalism", "secularism" and "stability" or even terrorism They are today struggling with the barest, elementary problems of existence – hunger, homelessness, unemployment and debt. Let's hope that they will be stirring this time against the failure of successive governments to solve these basic problems. There was a time when the majority of our people were eagerly looking forward to the end of grinding poverty. Promises and platitudes, resolutions and manifestoes have come the way of the poor in impressive array at periodic intervals, and yet the discomforting question still persists: What about the elimination of poverty? Over the long haul, the verdict of the 15th Lok Sabha elections may not mean much to the poor in our country. Their daily battle of existence will continue. The economic laws will remain what they always have been. The poor and the dispossessed will have to learn, through the hard way that there is no surrogate to the solidarity of class. That the Marxian cliché – not the weakness of the strong, but the strength of the weak determines the process of history – will retain its legitimacy. P.N.BENJAMIN Apt. 501, 5th Floor Indira Residency 167 Hennur Road Bangalore 560 043
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