ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fetish for Electoral Politics

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Do the voters in general and in Bihar in particular deserve a normatively superior election campaign, a campaign that is driven by the moral force of genuine sensitivity towards both the material and moral needs of the stakeholders, particularly the voters? This question has become all the more relevant in Bihar’s recent electoral context. As the media election coverage shows, the election campaign in the state is carried out with an element of incongruence between the language of electoral mobilisation used by some of the contestants and the expectations of the voters. The election campaign for the Bihar assembly election shows a stark contrast between the voters’ expectations and some leaders’ expressions. The content of election speeches, particularly by those from the ruling front, seem to have remained focused on the repeated use of rhetoric such as “jungle raj.” This usage has reduced the language of electoral mobilisation to a political fetish. The fetish for electoral campaigns does suggest what can be seen as a studied refusal on the part of some stakeholders to apply a new voca­bulary that would have the grain of genuine sensitivity towards sufferings and the authenticity of promise to address and amelio­rate people’s basic problems. The opposite side of this fetish is the dominant perception, which suggests that the voters do not deserve better language of mobilisation and that they are fit for understanding only the rhetoric that is empty on account of it being repetitive.

The COVID-19 crisis has produced enormous human pain and suffering that has gripped within its devastating logic the lives of lakhs of migrant workers. It is needless to emphasise the fact that the migrant workers from Bihar were among the worst hit by this crisis. On moral grounds, one expects the leaders, especially from the ruling front, to stand with the victims of the pandemic by using the election campaign as an opportunity to publicly share the agony of people who are inundated with basic challenges as to how to survive with dignity. But the election speeches of some of the prominent leaders were filled with slurs for the opposition rather than empathy for the people caught in the crisis. The speeches that involved impassivity seem to be quite insouciant in their ethical core. Making the narratives of human sufferings as the main part of an election campaign would have been politically incorrect and morally embarrassing, particularly for those in the position of power. Instead, the election campaign seems to be filled with a rather “worn out” rhetoric. Politics of fetish, in effect, has taken over the political sensibility of some of the leaders, if not the voters.

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Updated On : 3rd Nov, 2020

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