On Free Agents & United Voters – Can this work?
Dear All, this is a lazy post – borrowing heavily from earlier posts by Atanu Dey and RealityCheck…In fact, it borrows from RC’s post to such an extent that this could have been a guest post by him (except that I have taken large chunks out to get to the main point). This matter is close to my heart and I am keen to have an extensive debate on this matter…Please do share your thoughts and ideas via the comments section below. But first, some extracts from “On the United Voters of India and Free Agents” by RealityCheck:
Atanu Dey has a really thought provoking post over at his blog called A bit on Democracy in India. The central problem according to him and shared by all of us is: How do we get men of better quality into elected office ?
…He proposes a new voting bloc called “The United Voters of India”.
Membership to this voting bloc will be voluntary
“..but the condition is that the member adhere to the sworn duty of voting, and voting only for the candidate chosen by the association. The members choose whom to vote for through “primary” elections in which all members are eligible to vote — but it is neither compulsory nor mandatory. The only compulsory bit is that the member eventually vote at the real elections for the candidate chosen by the group.”
RC then digs deeper – to consider whether such a concept could really work…
Can a person like Atanu Dey contest on the basis of his own big picture issues and win ?
…Almost impossible – but the degree of impossibility depends on how many ‘free agents’ are in his constituency. I can confidently say that south of the Vindhyas there are very few places where such a miracle can happen. I suspect this is true even in the north
So, in effect, NO. And the reason?
…the middle class is hopelessly divided into free agents and locked in voters..
I think therein lies our challenge...How do we consolidate the free agents? How can we win with a “minority” of votes? How can we form a good voters group? Unfortunately this addresses only one side of the problem (as many commentators noted on Atanu’s blog). The other side of the equation (and I believe the harder part) is how do we get the “Good Candidate” to contest? Unless we resolve that, change is unlikely – and may be very long in coming.
Tomorrow, some thoughts on why good people stay away from politics…and how all this ties in with the root cause of corruption in India. In the meantime, please do share your thoughts and comments on whether this (these) idea(s) are practical…Can this work? What do you think?