Maharashtra goes to polls today amidst hectic parleying, most of which I have been completely oblivious to. Most of the Mumbai bloggers have been not much vocal either. Thanks to Rediff, I could at least have a glance at the contests brewing in all corners of the state. What I love about local elections is the focus on real-time problems that you can relate to in your everyday life. Frequent power outrages, cutbacks in drinking water supply, outdates sewage systems, or the perennial problem of bad roads. There are the issues that you wouldn’t expect to be raised in national elections although they are. But promises made by Member of Parliament are useless since they can do nothing about them. They have the power to attract industries to your region or introduce reforms in form of tax breaks for entrepreneurial enterprises or get that rail link to your abandoned station, which was earlier used mostly for shooting teary farewell scenes in Bollywood potboilers. I am not kidding, my hometown Panvel held the record for hosting highest number of train station scenes until Konkan Railway and the link to Harbor line came along, courtesy some hastening-up lobbying by a PWP MP.
Govinda, a newbie politician and giant-killer made the fallacy of criticizing the state of Borivali roads while contesting national elections. Little did he know that it was the responsibility of his own party that ruled the state to maintain city roads. But people do not know where the jurisdiction of state ends and that of Centre begins. Local elections however bring politics to the people and you can actually haul up your local MLA or corporator to make amends. The fact that nothing much happens in the majority of the cases is not the issue. The choice of the candidate is much more relevant in local elections than national elections. Chances of you knowing the candidate are also higher and that greatly increases the chances of you getting at least patient ear for your woes. In that case are local or regional parties a better bet in such elections? Voting for a regional party who understands the context and culture of your place might make better sense.
Let us see how things turn out in Maharashtra.