Indian electoral politics is a murky cup of tea. With the passage of time it is becoming turbulently kaleidoscopic at an increasing pace. In the process the true spirit of democracy is falling by the wayside to rot, decay and vanishes into thin air.

Abraham Linclon’s “of the people, by the people & for the people” definition of democracy is apparently nowhere visible at the ground level of electoral politics in India today. In particular, the “for the people” aspect has become a mirage for tens of crores reeling under misery, penury, poverty, exploitation, even starvation or near starvation and lack of education, while political maturity is an alien chapter.

One feature that has come to stay as solidly as the Rock of Gibraltar in Indian electoral politics is money power. Money power plays not only a highly effective and virtually near-decisive role in electoral politics in India today, but has over the years proved to be almost the life-force in successful wooing a sizable section of the voters.

Money power does not only mean distribution of hard cash directly or under various guise (even government schemes) among the voters in the run-up to the polls, but also included distribution of liquor among  members of certain communities, issue of threats in certain cases through various mafia outfits or through hired mercenaries and the like. As a matter of fact what prevails is a brand of democracy thoroughly saturated in perversion of the worst order.

Unfortunately, money power as listed above is not the only virus that has infected democracy in India almost beyond the realm of any repair. It also expresses itself in several other Machiavellian activities and electoral politics provides a fertile ground for such democracy burying misdemeanour.

One such culpable, reprehensible and anti-people activity exercised mainly by political party (ies), loaded with cash in astronomical figures, is the modus operandi adopted to split votes during election with money power as the mantra and anchor. However, from the legal stand point, it is just next to impossible to point a finger at the masterminds of such grave diggers of democracy.

In this process some existing small political parties are literally bought off to field candidates while individual independents are also backed up with the motive of grabbing a few thousand votes which would otherwise not go to the big party with immense money power. Sometimes smaller parties are also created prior to the polls with the same purpose of splitting votes. The result being that the larger political party engineering such democracy killing operandi finally comes out as the ultimate winner.

Past election results also clearly show that the total votes polled by the smaller parties and the independents added to the number of votes secured by the nearest rival of the winner, quite often goes past the total votes polled by the winning candidate. Such vote-splitting process ensures that the nearest rival loses the election.

This democracy killing game of vote splitting has been on since decades both in Assam as well as across India. Earlier, the Congress played this game to its advantage and today the ruling BJP with even greater money power has mastered the game.

At this juncture and in the backdrop of the approaching 2021 Assam Assembly polls, it may be pointed out that recently a state BJP heavyweight had given an indication that the sinister game may be pursued to the hilt.

Over the last one month or thereabouts, Assam has witnessed mushroom growth of several so called regional political parties. It is not quite understandable as to which party has propped up on its own or which party has been formed under the diktat of some behind-the -curtain political God-father with tons of hard cash. The purpose–to divide votes.

Meanwhile and strangely enough, although many such political parties seemingly have a common agenda of opposing the CAA, there appears to be no unity among them and are apparently making all preparations to lock horns among at the polls.

This exactly is what some big political party (ies) want. As of now, the way the seeming vote-splitting scenario is beginning to find root in Assam, it appears to be likely to be a great blessing for some ‘master party’ in the 2021 Assam Assembly polls.

The yesteryears clearly point to the fact that with every succeeding election, Parliamentary or Assembly, in the face of money power playing its evil role in different guise, political ethics has nose-dived to its nadir. Nay, what now prevails may be termed as sky-rocketing political ‘nastics’.

To that may be added what is termed as ‘horse trading’ after the polls when no major party succeeds to secure an absolute majority. This is the realm when the Governor at times plays a questionable role while democracy in its letter and spirit gasps for breath in the garbage.

Be that as it may, with the Assam Assembly polls barely a few months away and the political landscape of the state being dotted with the birth of several regional parties virtually with the same poll plank, may prove to be a huge blessing to the ruling BJP with division of votes appearing to be an almost absolute certainty.

So far as the proposed Congress-AIUDF alliance is concerned, it would surely be interesting to watch if the poll tie-up succeeds in minting any electoral gain from the sure vote division. Further the Congress and the AIUDF are also likely to face stiff challenges from rival candidates from their respective parties for not being allotted party tickets.

On this count the BJP may not go scot free but in the saffron camp the force of Hindutva may suppress all such challenges. In the case of the AGP which is apparently in a shambles and total mess and seemingly sans any ideology or direction may not find the saffron dye lent by the BJP of much help. As of today it appears that the AGP may be left biting sheer dust at the end of the day.

That indeed brings us to the cardinal question as to what could be real purpose of the newly formed Assam-based parties behind the upcoming locking of horns among themselves in the 2021 Assam Assembly polls when it is clear as daylight that the said parties would raise more or less the same issues before the public.

Are these parties not aware that they would only act as catalyst in the vote-division mechanism? Or is there some secret understanding between all or some of them with some big political master rollicking in wealth?

Interestingly the exact answer would never be known except guessing from deeds. What is almost certain is that vote-split will help some party of political heavyweights to bulldoze all challenges to shreds and win the race to the seat of power in the state capital.

Talmizur Rahman

Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at rahmantmz5@gmail.com