In chosing a candidate for exercising our votes we are often confronted with manifesto’s of different parties. Unfortunately the integrity of political parties is so low that whatever they state in the manifesto is not considered reliable.

Now in Karnataka, almost all parties say they will waive farmer’s loan and provide rice at Rs 1 etc.,.

Firstly alleviation of poverty is a Governance objective that cannot be converted into passing out some doles from time to time. Parties should say how they are able to raise the poor from their present status to better status in terms of income. They should also state how they will bring down the spiralling prices. This will be more important than Rs 1 per kg.

The real intention behind this Rs 1 per kg scheme is to ensure that in the name of such a program politicians can make money.

Even the farmer loan waiver scheme will have a commission payable to politicians which may be a certain percentage of the amount disbursed.

What people require are innovative ideas that make poverty melt away in the society even if it takes time. Present politicians have no idea of even how to attempt poverty alleviation programs other than taking money out of tax payer’s funds and distribute it to the voters.

In fact in case of candidates who are  past MLAs or belonging to political parties, the manifestos are of no consequence. Only the past performance is of consequence. In the case of sitting MLAs, the way they have used their MLA development fund is a direct reflection of their capability to serve.

Fortunately today voters have an index of corruption in the form of increased wealth of candidates between two elections. Despite the rare possibility of a few persons who might have earned wealth through genuine means, a majority of wealth gain is through corruption. Hence in case of all candidates and more so in case of sitting MLAs, “Increase in wealth since the last election” is a clear indication of corruption. Candidates should have the onus of proving that their wealth is out of legitimate transactions.

“Criminal Records” is also a parameter for consideration of the voters. In fact any candidate with one conviction and  more than one serious offence allegation should be summarily rejected. In case there are genuine cases where false charges are likely to have been made, the candidates need to provide a suitable explanation on the basis of which candidates may decide.

In the case of entirely new candidates or independents, then their intentions have to be gauged only through their manifestos. At the same time we cannot expect them to have a manifesto which is reflective of the national issues or some times even the state wide issues. We have to accept that their service vision is limited to the constituency and evaluate them only on that basis.

It is open for such candidates to also disclose their personal preferences on national and state wide issues since during the last assembly many of the independents became ministers. In order to judge the ability of candidates to raise to such occassions and also to meaningfully participate in debates in the assembly, education is one criteria to be used for evaluation.

Thus candidates need to look at Education, Past Performance, Policy disclosures and criminal records of each of their candidates before deciding whom to vote.

In the last few days there will be few analysts who will go around and say “Vote for Stability”. “..such and such party is likely to emerge as the single largest party. Vote for them so that they will be able to form Government on their own”.

Some will also say “Why vote for a candidate who is not likely to win. Vote for the candidate in your constituency who is most likely to win”.

I want voters to reject both these arguments.

We need to vote as per our conscience to the best candidate. If he does not win, at least we have given expression to our voice that we dislike corrupt politicians. If no party gets a majority, it is also OK. Let there be Governor’s rule or another election. Let us not be forced to elect an undesirable candidate on the pretext that stable Government is essential.

Stability of a Government is not dependent on numbers. It is a function of the integrity of the elected candidates to Govern the State for the benefit of all the Citizens. A good leader can work well even if he is heading a minority Government. A bad leader will ruin even if he has a brute majority.

I hope Voters of Karnataka will remember these thoughts.

Vijayashankar

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