Many commentators are quick to say that the Congress victory in three States in the recent elections indicates that the voters were not influenced by the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This may not be fully true.
We know that the tirade against politicians after the Mumbai attacks was mainly an upper class phenomenon. The common on the street shows much more resilience. For they live under one or other type of terror everyday. Thus the average Indian is less panicky about terrorism compared to, say, the Americans. So, he is capable of much more reasoned behaviour. This would have disappointed the terrorists besides the BJP.
The common man does not want India to declare war with Pakistan on the spur of the moment. He would have voted BJP if it was a war that he preferred. For the chances of a BJP going for war are much more than the Congress. He may also be aware that the State governments cannot declare war. They are also not directly responsible for the Central government’s failures.
Many also think that terrorism attacks began to spread from Kashmir to other parts of the country after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and Gujarat massacre. Ordinary man has enough wisdom to understand that bringing BJP to power is not the best way to reduce tensions. If at all the country is to declare war against Pakistan, who else is better than A. K. Antony and Sonia Gandhi to be at the helm of affairs? They would be motivated only by security concerns (and not communal factors).
But, we could still wonder why the common man did not react to the economic crisis and price rise. Well, the crisis is yet to hit the common man. It is the stock market players, realtors, banks and exporters who had been bruised badly. Moreover, farmers and others are now seeing the end of tunnel after the Central government pumped in money to help the farming sector and create rural employment. Those who look beyond their immediate welfare know that the Central Government is not responsible for the crisis.
The lack of voter response to price rise, however, look inexplicable. One reason may be that the real incomes of the people at middle and lower levels have gone up. Consequently, price rise is not a big concern as in the past.
It is notable that the voters have generally gone against regional parties. The Mizo National Front has been swept out. The ordinary Kashmiris has shown with their feet that they are not with the terrorists. (This is an opportunity that the Centre must know miss to settle the Kashmir issue once and for all.)
India is showing some facets of a slowly maturing democracy despite all our problems with the politicians and bureaucrats and increasing inefficiency and corruption in administration. Progress is marred only by lack of choice for the voters.