K P Sasi, Film Director and Cartoonist from Bengaluru, April 2, 2019
The debates on the forthcoming elections have already started. Activists and people’s movements who have been contributing actively without representations in Parliament have started discussing on strategies. The usual debates are on. All these debates have been repetitions of the debates we have heard for decades. Some will decide to opt out. Some will decide to back those political forces which can effectively form an alternative to BJP Governance, while these opposition political parties are still negotiating and fighting for their presence in power among themselves. Some would say, `vote for the eligible candidates’. And others will follow the `mainstream opinion within the alternative’. We have seen that enough in history.
It is also a matter of irony that this Parliament Election in 2019 has become so crucial for many discourses and discussions at a time when Parliament itself has become more or less a rubber stamp. The data of the number of millionaires and billionaires as sitting members in the Indian Parliament are available. The corruption details are heavily debated within the mainstream press itself. And it is an open reality that most of the MPs that we elect do not even read and reflect crucial Bills that affect the lives of the majority of people in this country, before they decide to `vote for’ or `vote against’. Many of them are also `sleeping members’. The influence of the investment of money in these campaigns to determine the success or loss of a candidate has also transformed drastically in recent times.
Therefore, the crisis is to find eligible candidates who worked for the people and articulate the concerns of the people, if we have to protect this important institution of democracy. In this situation, there are some candidates also fighting without the backing of money power and with the intention of raising important issues they have been representing for decades as activists.
In Bangalore North, Cynthia Stephen has decided to contest. She is not an unknown face for the activists in Bangalore. I have seen her presence in many protests and public programmes and seminars for a long time. She has been consistently raising the issues of Dalits, Women, Religious Minorities, Child Rights, Rights of the Physically Challenged and other issues of the marginalised as well as various developmental issues. Her contributions in research, writings, advocacy, activism are known to the activists in Bangalore. In this context, it is only appropriate that the activists in Bangalore support their own candidate whole hearted and work for her success. I do not see this from a perspective of `winnability’, but as a matter of `principle’. When decisions are based on `winnability’ and not on `principles’ then I can assure you that there will be no transformation in the structure of Indian Parliament. And if people dare to vote on `principles’ and work for this candidate, she may win also. My best wishes to Cynthia Stephen.