How politics really works in rural India

Really, sometime I laugh when people ask me, what are the main election issues in Uttar Pradesh election. There are long boring debates on TV channels about issues and trends. These things might have an effect on urban educated middle class, but THEY DO NOT VOTE. So, what really decides results of election? Let us have a closer understanding how politics works in rural areas.

In todays’ time and in a state as backward as UP, everybody has one problem or other with the system. People don’t really care if that problem belong to the whole community, ie. electricity, road, unemployment. But an individual voter is very very concerned about his personal problems where he might need help of some political leader, ie. avoiding problems with police, getting arms licence, some source in government office etc. So everybody tries to form a relation with one or two local leaders. Now who will help you in such illegal acts? Someone who is your own caste, from your own village, somehow related to you. So this process leads to local blocks of influence of a local leader. He gets work done, so people are with him.

Now, every district has 20-30 such influential leaders or families who can get your work done. They command their own blocks of influence. Their supporters will vote for them in spite of their political party. Now these 20-30 people fight for tickets from 4-5 major parties so that they can gain voters loyal to that particular party. The percentage of voters loyal to party is very low in UP, may be 40% in urban areas but less than 20% in rural areas. These leaders anticipate mood of neutral voters (say 20%) and try to align themselves with that mood. So the stocks of ticket from party A to B keep going up and down in every election. These local leaders change loyalties in every election based on opportunity and local equations. So the job of all major political parties is to attract these influential leaders to its fold.

So, the issues like corruption/poverty/unemployment are only talking points, they do not affect large number of people’s choice on voting machine. However these issues do change mind of 10-15% concerned citizens, but alas they don’t vote in large numbers.

4 thoughts on “How politics really works in rural India

  1. very very true…but can you contemplate/suggest about some long term measures by the individuals or the system to get rid of this prevalent system of politics and elections…In my opinion quality primary education comprising training not only brain but character can be instrumental .Right from the begining kids must be foastered with nationalistic and patriotic feelings through well defined mechanisms in a professional way.This blood purification process is very time taking but there is no other way than to generate powerful leaders in bulk, full of character, among us….

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    1. I don’t think so your suggestion is going to work in these country because where teacher themselves say no mean to vote all political leaders r courrpted infront of whole bunch of class .so what r u expecting from the students to do in future.

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  2. Since in UP caste plays a dominant role in deciding the outcome, there are considerable number of people loyal to a particular party based on their caste e.g. Yadavas aligning themselves to SP and dalits going for BSP, this forms the core vote base of these parties. I do not think that only 20% of the rural population is loyal to a particular party as against 40% in urban areas. The situation may be opposite, if we take BSP, their core voters are the dalit who identify with the BSP as Behenji’s and there own party so even if BSP fields a candidate from the upper caste, they will be voting for the party. Also, since caste remains dominant thing in the rural areas and mostly the backward caste and dalit candidates reside in these areas, they go for the parties they identify as belonging to the leaders of their own caste (SP with MS Yadav and BSP with Mayawati). Every major party (except may be congress) has its core vote bank based on caste which it has formed over a long peroid of time and in every election they try to build upon it by bringing other issues related to different communities and castes and try to attract the volatile votes which becomes a deciding factor in the final outcome.
    The reason why development and other related issues do not come to the fore in UP because UP has missed the development bus of 1991. People have also realised that nothing is going to change even if they vote for the candidates promising development so they take the obvious route i.e. voting for the candidates of their own caste becasue he/she will at least get their work done,

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