Putin's tears, which appeared as he announced his election victory as the new president of Russia, have become the but of several jokes. They have not certainly softened the cobble stones of the red square though they must have made his long gone mentor Lenin turn in his nearby mausoleum.
Honestly, Putin shouldn't have cried like a baby. Ex KGB agents do not shed tears after winning an election especially when it was rigged. The result of the Russian Presidential election was a foregone conclusion, and didn't matter for the rest of the world, as evident from the reaction of world leaders and the poor coverage and attention it received as a non event. Around the world, Putin's tears are seen as nothing but crocodile tears.
No one really knows why Putin burst in to tears and chocked for his words. There are several theories in circulation. But if they were indeed tears of national pride of the self appointed President of Russia, the fact that free and fair elections were held in a third world country should have brought a few drops of shame in the eyes of every patriotic and freedom loving Russian.
Well, if it is no longer politically correct to call India a third world country, it is all the more shameful for Russia to be democratically compared to another BRIC nation and placed in poor esteem.
Putin and other leaders who hate a free and fair democratic process have something to learn from Rahul Gandhi, the young leader of India, who has constantly shunned away from power his 160 year Congress party, which ruled India for most of the time after its Independence, wants him to take on.
If the election 2012 in Russia made Putin weep, despite his lack of intention to give up his iron grip on the lives of millions of Russians, the recent democratic elections in the largest state of India, Uttar Pradesh with a population of over 200 Million, brought smiles on the faces of millions of Indians proud about their democracy, especially of Rahul Gandhi, as he addressed a press conference to concede defeat and accept his share of responsibility.
In fact it should be Rahul Gandhi, who must be crying for the 'apparent' defeat and loss to his party in the recent elections! Though no one has a plausible explanation to the tears of Vladimir Putin, other than perhaps psychiatric explanations, there are plenty of reasons why Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party shouldn't be depressed at the outcome of the elections.
The hype and expectations built up around his campaign by the Indian media gave the impression that he is to be "blamed" for a loss he hasn't caused because in absolute terms he has managed to increase his party's vote share by 40%.
Though many observers agree that the hard work and efforts of Rahul Gandhi exposed and ousted the corrupt and inefficient government of Chief Minister Mayavati, the hard political reality on ground failed to turn the voter's discontent in to votes for his party.
Rahul Gandhi has been criticised, as an outsider campaigning in the state of UP couldn't effectively relate to the voters and couldn't be seen as one who is there to deliver on the promises.
Most of all, the Congress party, like its opponent BJP, failed to present a viable leadership and party structure to form a new state government the electorate could vote for, while a well established and regional Party, despite several corrupt and failed stints before, attracted a mass of negative votes.
However the main take away from the elections indicate that the conclusions from the electoral verdict were all logical, proving that the Indian electorate certainly has a mind and can apply it in casting its franchise.
- The dynamics of elections to the national parliament and the state assemblies are no longer the same and need to be played up on separately to gain election success.
- Much like the European Union, India is in fact a union of "federal" states, each with its own sense of independence, issues and politics of casts, religion and other factors of electoral balances.
- Diminished external threats and higher economic growth of the recent past has made "national" parties and their leadership less relevant to the state politics.
- The "national" parties have failed to build the party structure and leadership to substitutes for the prominent leaders who migrated to a national leadership.
- Measures of the central government imposing quota for women in local governance has increased the active participation of women in politics and their influence in elections over issues which matter to them like corruption.
All of the above are indeed lessons, the largest democracy can be proud of and learn from and certainly make young leaders like Rahul Gandhi to deliberate on for evolving new strategies.
If Putin indeed believes he has the support he claims which brought tears to his eyes, he should be willing to hold a re-election free and fair for all to see. He can take a few lessons in real democracy from his BRIC partner.
Follow Sreedhar Pillai on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lastingrose