Whom to vote? MP or PM?

UPDATE:
Part 2 of the analysis is uploaded here:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/part-2-whom-to-vote-mp-or-pm/

Over the last few days, I have been receiving several questions related to elections from friends and even enthusiastic college students who are going to be first time voters. One of the most frequently asked questions is: “Should I vote for the PM or the MP”? i.e The confusion is when the PM candidate of their choice and the local MP candidate of their choice do not belong to the same party. Which one should be prioritized in that case?

Before answering the question, lets get into a little bit of basics.

We have 2 types of major elections in India:

1) Assembly elections: You elect MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) for your constituency. Depending on which party has the largest number of MLAs, that party will form a Govt at the State by appointing a Chief Minister from that party.
These MLAs will represent their respective constituencies in State Legislative Assembly and put forward their proposals to get funds sanctioned for their constituencies in order to work on local problems like asphalting roads, sewer, water pipes, electricity lines etc. The MLAs can be proactive (i.e they inspect their constituencies regularly to find out what needs to be done) or reactive (i.e people from their constituencies regularly visit the MLA to put forward their demands). At a higher level, these MLA meet at the assembly to decide the fate of the state in aspects like irrigation, budget, taxes, policies etc.

vidhana soudha

2) General elections: You elect a Lok Sabha MP (Member of Parliament) who will move to Delhi and depending on which party has the maximum number of MPs, that party will appoint a Prime Minister and form a Govt. These Lok Sabha MPs, along with Rajya Sabha MPs will decide the fate of India in aspects like Foreign Policy, External Affairs, Tackle terrorism, Union budget, national policies like whether to allow for FDI, pass bills like Lokpal, laws related to rapes etc. Practically speaking, the MP would be so busy with national policies in the parliamentary activities that he would hardly get any time to think about his local constituency.
(The only guaranteed way in which the constituency can directly benefit from the MP is when he sanctions Rs 5 crore under the MPLAD scheme which is actually a very small amount considering the size of a constituency {even a small flyover construction costs Rs 50 crores} and hence the MPLADS might soon be abolished altogether, thereby further isolating the MP from his constituency)

parliament

Now that we are clear about the different types of elections and the scope of MLA/MP, lets take a practical example to analyze our original question “Should I vote for the MP or the PM?”. Since elections in Bangalore are just a few hours away, I will try to illustrate using an example which would help most of the Bangaloreans (and the same logic can be extended/applied to any constituency in India).

Nandan Nilekani (co-founder of Infosys & architect of the ambitious, nationwide Aadhar project) is contesting as a local MP candidate in Bangalore South constituency and due to his impeccable corporate record, he strikes a chord with most of the youngsters. That precisely has become the cause of dilemma for many because he is representing Congress whose PM candidate is Rahul Gandhi and that does not seem to be going down well with youngsters.

Lets find out what might happen if you vote for Nandan.

nilekani_rahul_change_agentSince Nandan represents Congress, a vote for him is a vote to Rahul Gandhi. Suppose you cast your vote to Nandan and in turn bring Rahul Gandhi to power, has Nandan told us his national views and how he intends to tackle national issues in the Lok Sabha?

For example, what are his views on FDI? Does he think the Chinese aggression can be ignored or is it a serious threat? Does he have any ideas on how to tackle the Kashmir issue? What are his views on Bangladeshi immigrants getting Aadhar cards? It is these things he is supposed to debate on the floor. But all that we are hearing from him in rallies (and his social media pages) are local issues like how Bangalore is congested and how he plans to improve water supply, garbage collection, transport etc.
Is Nandan contesting for an Assembly election or General election? His vision for Bangalore might be good and he might indeed have exemplary knowledge on town-planning, but that is not the purpose a MP is voted for. In fact, that is something which directly comes under the scope of Bangalore Municipal. Infrastructure projects (roads, flyovers, underpasses, lake revival etc) costing thousands of crores of rupees come under the State Govt (elected during Assembly Elections). Hence, it would actually make more sense if Nandan contests for Assembly elections because his ideas are in perfect sync for Karnataka State Govt or Bangalore Municipal.

As a voter, what should you do now? There 3 options in the case of Nanan Nilekani (and similarly can be extrapolated to other candidates as well)

1) If you are strongly in favor of Rahul Gandhi becoming PM, then you must vote for Nandan because he represents Congress, your vote can help Rahul Gandhi to come to power.

1) If you are strongly against Rahul Gandhi becoming PM, then you must not vote for Nandan.

2) However, if you are not really concerned about who becomes the PM and are more concerned about your local MP (Nandan in this case), then find out Nandan’s views at national scale. Are you confident that Nandan will speak out about national issues and not be just a puppet under the PM? Do you think Nandan can use his talent and help the PM in taking better decisions in national interests? If you are convinced with his talent and capability of handling national issues, then there is no confusion and you can vote for him.

The above procedure can be followed for each of the local MP candidate in your constituency and based on the method of selection, you can finalize your preference in just a single iteration, or based on the method of elimination you can eliminate all but one. Even if you do not like any of the local MP candidates, make sure you go for the least evil and avoid NOTA because contrary to the popular belief, NOTA is not really the right to reject but is as good or as bad as not going to the polling booth at all, as explained by a former election commissioner in this news article:

nota
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/nota-does-not-mean-right-to-reject-voter-election-evm/1/312960.html

To summarize: If you have already decided on who you want as your next PM, vote for that party irrespective of who your local MP candidate is. If you are fine with any of the PM candidates and more concerned about the local MP, thoroughly scrutinize each and select the least evil of all.

UPDATE:
Part 2 of the analysis is uploaded here:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/part-2-whom-to-vote-mp-or-pm/

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