Introspection, Illusion or Both?

The 2014 elections results have made many political parties bite the dust and severely embarrassed their high and mighty leaders, who just till a few days ago, were waxing eloquent on how the public will vote them into power with an overwhelming majority. Thus, it is not at all surprising that post-elections, all such self proclaimed leaders of the masses have suddenly decided to go incommunicado and to justify their sudden disappearance from the spotlight have sought refuge in the age-old post-electoral excuse of being in the ‘introspection-mode’. That this excuse fools no one doesn’t worry the politicians as they know that the gullible public has very short memories!

To my mind, grasping the nuances of Indian polity is beyond the grasp of any mortal as it defies logic and so most of us base our perceptions solely on common sense and the obvious. And while I am more than convinced that this may well be real the mantra for unraveling the curious world of Indian politics, it is rather surprising that veteran leaders appear to be completely unaware of the same. Isn’t it extremely hilarious to see a leader who you are convinced is a ‘sure-shot’ loser since he (or she) has done nothing for the people, brimming with overconfidence and boasting how a grateful public would vote him (or her) to power? And isn’t it even more hilarious to see the same leaders after (predictably) having lost the elections, express ‘shock’ and ‘utter surprise’ at the results? One wonders how political parties who are so poor in poll predictions can claim to be the masters when it comes to poll-debacle introspection!

Thanks to fancy words and terms like ‘anti-incumbency factor’, ‘miscalculations’, ‘strategic poll alliance dynamics’,  ‘communication-gap’, ‘polarisation of the electorate’ and  ‘grass root level failures’, vanquished leaders do not have to suffer the ignominy of having to eat their own words! While many of us may not have expected the BJP to sweep the polls the way it did, none of us had any doubts for in our minds that the performance of the Congress would be, to say the least abysmal. Similarly, even by just reading the newspapers and browsing social media sites, all of us knew that in Kashmir, the NC would be ‘out’ and PDP ‘in’! So, all this leads us to the question- if we without any formal training or expertise on the subject can predict the outcome of poll results with a fair amount of accuracy; one wonders why the political parties with a battery of experts and professionals still fail to see the obvious?

It is equally surprising as to how and why the results of ‘introspection’ carried out after each electoral debacle are always the same? Why is it that no shortcomings are ever found in the key leaders of political parties who lose elections and at times even have to forfeit their security deposits? Why does every ‘introspection report’ conclude that it is the subordinates and ‘grass root level’ workers who always let down their party leaders by not doing their work honestly? Why is an opponent’s victory is always is ascribed to use of unfair means and extraneous influences on voters or malpractices like ‘polarisation’ and ‘rigging’? Since no one could provide a convincing answer to these queries, I cursorily browsed through some material on ‘introspection’ available on the internet and came across the interesting phrase, “Introspection Illusion.”  

Introspection, as we all know, is the term assigned to an ‘in-house’ exercise undertaken to carry out an appraisal by ‘looking inwards’. While the idea is good, introspection suffers from the major drawback related to the inherent human tendency of ‘over-valuing’ personal perspectives while ‘heavily discounting’, if not totally disregarding, the point of view of others. This disparity leads to assessments and conclusions that are both stereo-type and prejudiced in nature, resulting in a skewed analysis which is termed as “introspection Illusion.”  Therefore, it is likely that ‘introspection illusions’ get the better of rational introspection in all post poll debacle introspection exercises and with the tendency to down play personal shortcomings, the results always hold external factors and extraneous issues responsible for the poor performance of the party.

If ‘selfies’ (posting personal photos displaying the inedible ink mark on the forefinger by voters on the internet) became a rage during elections, ‘introspection’ is the ‘in-thing’ post elections. And that the Hurriyat conglomerate is also considering introspection is both good and bad news. Good, because at least they have finally realised that instead of always blaming others for betraying the ‘K’ cause, there is also a need to ‘look inwards’ and evaluate the efficacy of their own strategies, and bad because of two reasons. The first being that the focus of their introspection is unfortunately misplaced as limiting their introspection exercise to exploring means for ensuring hundred percent poll boycott during the upcoming assembly elections, they are only dissipating their energies on peripheral matters. Secondly, with the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani already declaring that had he been allowed to campaign against polls, there would have been hundred percent poll boycott in the Valley, indicates that at least some separatists have already fallen victims to ‘introspection illusion’ and so the results are bound to be questionable!

Instead, what the separatist leadership could introspect upon is the more important issue of why is the movement for the ‘right to self determination’ stagnating and failing to draw international attention? The Hurriyat conglomerate needs to introspect on how to take this movement to its ‘logical conclusion’? But then, such an exercise may throw-up many a grave mistake in the approach being adopted, which the separatist leaders may be uncomfortable with. The very idea of seeking hundred percent poll boycott in itself is one such issue, because, try as they may, the separatists can never achieve this and even if they do, what then? Will this cause the international community to suddenly wake up from its deep slumber and call for the immediate implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir? Unlikely, as any move to influence people not to participate in elections, is in itself an undemocratic act!

Tailpiece: The international community is not the least impressed by New Delhi’s attempt to ‘showcase’ elections as an indicator of normalcy in Kashmir or a ‘substitute’ for the ‘right to self determination.’ However, if the separatists persist with their poll boycott calls while ‘unknown gunmen’ continue to target political functionaries and locals keep thrashing those who cast their votes, then I’m afraid that the international community may well start believing in New Delhi’s propaganda. But will the separatists consider this as an issue for introspection? Your guess is good as mine!  

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