Hazards of premature electioneering



July 30, 2022

The election apparently is not due till 2023 yet all signs are pointing out towards a premature electioneering exercise pursued by political segments of the country. It appears that the political elements are mentally prepared to join in the electoral process that they expect may well linger on till the proper elections mandated to be held in 2023. Though the political elements are duly engaged in electioneering but it is quite questionable if this activity could be rated as election campaign. In the strictest sense of the word, this premature electioneering could not be labeled as such because the series of public meetings have been in vogue since the end of the elections held in 2013. It was witnessed that Imran Khan took to the roads and started roaming around the country to pin down Nawaz Sharif on election malpractices charges that finally landed him in front of Parliament Square for a marathon sit-in for more than four months.
In this context it is noted that the continuous round of public meetings has taken the flair out of an election campaign as well as distorting the concept of going to the people with a certain agenda for obtaining their opinion on it. The politicos do not realise the harmful effects of organising public meetings too often as they lose their charm and significance. Like a continuous mechanical action the political parties hold public rallies and the level of competition is measured by the number of people attending them! Actually the political parties take pains to fill their rallies that surely kill the spirit of spontaneous response of people.
The worrying part is that most often the leadership is caught in the snare of its wide mass appeal due to painstakingly arranged public rallies conveniently ignoring the efforts put in by the lower cadres of their parties who are too subjugated by the leadership to explain the actual situation. The problematic aspect of the exercise is that the lower cadres start believing in this tactic instead of feeling the real pulse of public opinion. They work hard to gratify their leadership and in the process further alienate their genuine supporters. The practice is so deeply rooted by now that the local party leaderships beg party stalwarts to hold public meetings in their areas.
The frequent holding of public rallies reveals the sense of insecurity amongst the political class that yearns to obtain stamp of authority through their partisan rallies. They do not care if they are short of ideas to convey to their audiences. They also are ignorant of the fact that their material has gone stale and the only way to rabble-rouse is to slander their opponents. How much harm this practice has wrought on the political spectrum of the country is not very hard to gauge.
The chilling factor emerging out of the never-ending exercise is the amount of money squandered on public gatherings which could otherwise be used for much more productive purposes. In the media age images are easily built by television shows and the potency of political support needs not be vindicated through spending huge amounts of cash.
Frequent public meetings disturb the normal life in the areas where they are held. They disrupt traffic flow, create pockets of unruly behaviour and generally cause mayhem. In bigger cities life comes to a complete standstill where these meetings are held. The area is littered with rubbish and the lack of municipal arrangements turns it into an unlivable place.
The consistent public meeting-oriented politics were destined to lose their lustre and become diversionary in nature. It has accordingly failed to create a positive impact in the length and breadth of the country and has not provided food for thought for people. It actually has left far behind important issues such as health, education and welfare and the public discourse is hopelessly circling around less important issues.
The politicos have taken extraordinary advantage of right to assemble and free speech. These rights have been grossly misused and there is no way to arrest this self-defeating trend. The irony is that political parties gloat over their popularity and pronounce verdicts on others with scant regard for the less than transparent methods they adopt while doing the same. No one seriously investigates the so-called ATMs and their source of funding. No one complains about the public nuisance created by staggering spate of public gatherings. No one questions the fast growing slandering match between political opponents that has already created a cynical atmosphere in the country.
It may be futile to ask the political parties to slow down and restrain from unscrupulous waste of financial resources. A reasonable and prudent conduct has to be worked out by all segments of the citizenry. It therefore would be in fitness of things that the campaign to apply brakes to endless public meetings needs to be initiated by the Election Commission and followed up by the media. TW


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