The illusion of choice

In the 1992 British general elections, Neil Kinnock led the British Labour Party, which eventually lost. With that he left politics and became a university president. In 2000, Al Gore lost to George Bush, after which, he left politics and became an environmentalist. When these leaders withdrew following a defeat, their parties got a chance to make fresh starts with new leaders, new ideas. This, by the way, doesn’t happen in Indian politics.

In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha an autocratic and corrupt leader, was voted out in 1996. Her successor Karunanidhi, another autocratic, corrupt and dynastically obsessed leader, was voted out in 2001. Jayalalitha came in again, and was voted out in 2006. Then Karunanidhi came in, to be voted out in 2012, only to make way for Jayalalitha again. Take UP. When Mulayam Singh was defeated three times in the past, he hanged around. Mayawati, now defeated, will hang around. When next elections come, a UP or a Tamil voter will be compelled to choose between earlier rejects!

This has been the pattern of Indian politics since the Emergency. Indira Gandhi was thrown out humiliatingly, to make way for the Janata Party, which performed miserably and fell in two years. In the 1980 elections, people were bound to bring back only available alternative, Indira Gandhi. Since then, till date, in our elections, nobody is voted in. A person or  party is always voted out. Another steps into the vacancy as a default option. Next time we have the general elections, we’ll again be bound to choose between the fascist and the corrupt. This illusion of choice is everywhere. We get to choose between two political parties. In George Carlin’s language, we only choose between paper or plastic, smoking or non-smoking, window or aisle. This makes us feel like we have the freedom of choice. While in reality, we don’t.

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One response to “The illusion of choice

  1. Pingback: Yes your honour | Sourav Roy

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