Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hisar Loksabha Notes by Manu

Taken from his facebook notebook....

Let me start with the bad news. Votes received are disappointing. Only two thousand people voting for us is a terrible news. We can’t do anything about it now. But here are my thoughts at the end of phase I on political journey.

Our campaign was sound both ideologically as well as professionally. We had a good platform of “Clean and Good Politics” to stand on. Our campaign manifesto was well received and praised. Most likely, more people read our manifesto despite it being limited to Hisar constituency than those who would have read Congress and BJP menifestos across the country. A lot of politicians apparently praised and one very senior Haryana politician is rumored to have told his workers to get photocopies of our manifesto made and distribute. Another ex- Minister (I haven’t seen him ever) said very high praises of me. One politician I bumped into poll day admitted to the impact made by us. So clearly, in terms of ideology, we were the best in Hisar and were appreciated as such.

Professionally our campaign became known for its reach, hard work and down to earth approach. We were there in newspapers, on TV, on Radio, on internet. We covered more than 100 villages. We covered a lot of city areas on foot. We were visible, for sure. Using Raginiwalas, to create crowds in villages, was I think hallmark of our down to earth approach. We gave our message but we delivered it in terms that ordinary people can understand. And yes we worked hard till the end right upto the day of counting.
That we made an impact was evident from the fact that on the counting day, more people talked about our votes. I think our votes were second most discussed number on that day, first being victory margin of winning candidate. Our campaign was a proper election campaign and I am proud of the fact. Because being an ideological plank we had serious risk of running a sanitized campaign.

A lot of those who were on the campaign feel betrayed by people. After all, there was no compulsion to lie to us, we were a small campaign. However, I don’t think that people were lying to us. At those moments after personal interactions or my speeches, there was a genuine desire in a lot of them to vote for us. This desire might have waned later on its own as it is difficult to stand alone or more likely other candidates pounced upon our voters and surgically removed our support during last few days. We were very vulnerable on this count as we had no workers on ground, we only had voters and our voters were lonely sane voices. Its far easier to confirm to community, succumb to pressure than to stand one’s ground. A lot of our voters would have done that.

There are hard lessons to be learnt from this outcome. People will say nice things, may even want to vote for us and we may slog as hard as we can, there will still be no significant votes. We will have widespread sympathy, ideological agreement from ordinary man but still there will be no votes. This time we didn’t have workers on ground on each station. We can work hard on this aspect but I am doubtful of getting winnable votes even after 5 years of hard work.

The biggest learning from the votes is key to voter’s behaviour. A typical voter says –

1. My vote is very valuable – that it hasn’t got anything for him so far doesn’t matter, HE BELIEVES this way. No point challenging this assumption.
2. He is not willing to take risk by voting a new platform. He is seeking assurance. He follows crowd. And we can not ask for complete transformation.

In our case, I am confident that even on the polling day there were at least 10000 voters for us. 8000 of them changed their mind in last crucial five minutes fearing that their vote is getting wasted.

We dispelled the notion that ordinary people don’t understand how government works. They do. It is surprising that people in villages knew that it is their taxes that run the government. They know they are being looted but they feel helpless. Instead of revolting they are seeking a simpler way to making government working better than what we presented. Our route was long, tortuous and still uncertain.

Where do we go from here?

Practically, I would like to finish this phase by saying, lone warriors can’t win this war. A lot of us will have to get into political platforms and start fighting small battles and gradually finish this war. Ordinary man is not willing to revolt and help us finish this quickly.

I am not clear on what I will be doing. Its been a very intense two months and outcome has been so shocking that I need time to react and decide. I would like to remain politically active as that’s the only way to change our future. In what manner and how much is not clear to me. Hopefully, I will have this answer by end of next week.

For all the contributors, I will be getting a CD of campaign done and sent by 31st May. It will be enjoyable. It will have a memorable and witty TV campaign alongwith snippets of me talking about budgets in chaste Haryanvi.

I would love to answer any questions on elections and politics.

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