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A vote for continued all round growth

Their appeals to the electorate are only along expected lines: the current ruling dispensation’s argument being that the gains of the last decade will have to be taken forward

Political parties are gearing up for the April/ May showdown with energetic fervor in the hope of getting past the post at the hustings / (Representative image/PIB)

The suspense is over with the Election Commission announcing the dates for the 18th General elections and as expected in phases. The Commission continues to be in the unenviable task of going through a poll schedule involving nearly 980 million voters, thousands of voting centers and with central forces and state law enforcement providing security, not just for the voting machines and at counting centers but to protect people in remote areas of the country from subversives and terrorists simply waiting for some sort of disruption.

If democracy in India has survived in the last seven decades-plus, it has undoubtedly to do with the resilience of the people who are watchful and in making sure that differences were settled only at the ballot boxes. Politicians have been shown the door when perceived to have stepped out of line and this has been a tradition that Indian voters have long cherished.

The temptations of greasing palms for a vote is there and hopefully soon will become a thing of the past, just as how ballot stuffing and booth capturing are rare these days.

Political parties are gearing up for the April/ May showdown with energetic fervor in the hope of getting past the post at the hustings. The Bharatiya Janata Party- led National Democratic Alliance is challenged by the multi-party Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or I.N.D.I.A., each with its pockets of strength in a diverse country.

Their appeals to the electorate are only along expected lines: the current ruling dispensation’s argument being that the gains of the last decade will have to be taken forward; and the opposition stressing that aside from economic growth, the deficits of democracy would have to be countered.

There cannot be two ways of looking at the challenges facing the country. It is certainly positive that economic growth projections are pegged at around 8 per cent; but this has to be tempered with a realization of domestic and international challenges.

This is a country that has to go some distance in addressing under-development and uneven development, not to speak of the glaring gaps between the rich and the poor, just to mention two.

The international environment is not exactly growth friendly by way of wars and threats to flow of goods. The war in the Ukraine is now in its third year and seems to have escalated into a mad talk of nuclear weapons and nuclear showdown; the conflict in the Gaza that is nearing its sixth month has threatened shipping in the Red Sea and beyond. All these hurt a country like India that is seeking to reach a developed status.

When Prime Minister Narasimha Rao started economic reforms and liberalization in 1991, the big question was if governments down the line will move forward or roll back. Thirty-plus years later, different political parties at the Center have shown that there is no going back if the country is to move up the ladder. Indian voters know full well that political parties will have to deliver stability in substantive terms, not by rhetoric that seeks more to divide than unite. That is what the 2024 poll is all about.
 

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