Indian elections are loud, vibrant, colorful, and huge affairs with large amounts of money spent, this year, however, witnessed an election which was marred with hate speech, petty mudslinging and several incidents of political violence, political discourse hit new lows everyday and the country was sharply divided into two groups of people who were super determined to oust the other, to trick each other and to win. Fake news was the norm and almost everyone including the intellectuals and the educated classes fell for fake news at one time or the other. Fierce debates raged on around the country, newsrooms were packed with spokespersons trying to air their views, tea shops were filled with old men trying to decipher the mood, dining rooms too were politically charged and dinner was always served with a pinch of politics. The problem here is how divisive and polarized this election became towards the end, everyone had picked sides and everyone were not open to hearing out the other side, democracy isn’t about an election, it’s a process of debate and dialogue and without any dialogue happening, elections are completely irrelevant exercises with nothing being achieved. The level of political discourse too was very worrying, people were no longer talking about development or roads or water or education the main point of focus unfortunately was other irrelevant information like the caste of the candidates, the religion of their parents and several other personal topics like these, things which added zero value to our democratic process.
Another trend which I noticed was how personal this election became for many of us, friends stopped talking to each other, families were annoyed at relatives for having a difference in opinion, WhatsApp forwards were the start of fiery online wars between peers, Facebook friends blocked each other simply because they had a difference of opinion and no one really wanted to hear the other side anymore. I too had vigorously supported certain candidates and ideologies, some won and many lost but I recognized the fact that an election isn’t the end of the world, we need to work together and build bridges, regardless of who won and who lost, unity is the only way forward.
The print and digital media didn’t help in any way too, they continued to propagate hatred and divisions simply to gain viewers, after all won’t the curious human mind want to see two people with differing ideologies shout at each other on screen? Social media was altogether a whole new ballpark, trolls from all sides attacked each other, those who held on to their ideologies were insulted, abused and even threatened by the other side.
Now we need to recognize that the election is over.
Yes, many of us are Liberals, many of us are Communists, several of us are Conservatives, many of us love the new Prime Minister, some of us aren’t so fond of him, many of us wanted Congress to come back and some of us wanted regional parties to do well but what unites all of us? ALL of us want what’s best for India and for all Indians, our paths, ideologies, methods and views may differ but we all stand shoulder to shoulder as proud Indians. We need to reconcile and reach out to each other after this election and all the divisiveness we have seen during the campaign
Yes, this election has been one of the most hateful, petty and aggressive ones which we have witnessed but it’s time we realized that an election can’t divide us so much, we can’t be so partisan or polarized as a society, we need to work together and we certainly can’t shy away from putting our hand out to the other side, India is much more than just AAP, Congress or BJP. We cannot let our love for ideology or a political figure blind us from reality. Nation building required a joint effort and it certainly can’t leave out any group or community. We must all be involved in making India a beautiful country, regardless of whether we won or we lost during this election
Above all this we also need to recognize that human relationships, friendships and communities are far too important to be broken by petty ideological fights. Simply because you support a party which I’m highly critical of, doesn’t mean we can’t talk or we can’t stay friends, we need to ensure that we don’t allow politics to dictate our personal lives.
Let us love all Indians and let us build this country together, I’m hoping in the coming days the government will reach out to the opposition and give out an olive branch, we can’t progress as a country if there’s no political decency in our ruling class, there needs to be bipartisanship, unity and more coordination, that’s the only way forward.
To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have any political affiliation or ideologies, I’m only suggesting that we don’t allow our ideologies to become hateful towards those who may not agree with us, we can’t have open markets with closed minds.
Let the way forward be filled with peace, tolerance, mutual respect and inclusion, there’s really no other way to a peaceful society where everyone feels at home. If we start today, future elections in this country would see an improvement in the dialogue and won’t be so divisive or hateful, the wounds that this election has caused will take a long time to heal and the scars may never go away but there’s always hope that the future will see decency, respect and love become the cornerstones of a healthy democracy, until then I urge you all to reach out to those who don’t believe in the same things that you believe in, talk to them and try having an open mind, small things always blossom into bigger ones.