ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Pathways of Trust


Alliance politics in a limited electoral context is based, among other things, on two obvious formative conditions. The first and obvious one is that it acquires importance in the context of one-party dominance in electoral politics, which, arguably, seems to be coming back with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning by an overwhelming majority for a second term. The possible emergence of one-party dominance has become real, particularly in terms of numbers if not in terms of regional expansion. It can be attributed to the support that the BJP has received from the North Indian states and the inroads it has made in the North East. Second, alliance politics becomes necessary when the smaller groups cannot acquire electoral majority on their own. Since the opposition has become frail in terms of electoral strength and is fragmentary in its interests as well as social basis, an alliance based on solidarity and sustained by the force of mutual trust needs to exist both at the level of such parties, as well as among their supporters. If not for the parties’ particular political purpose, trust becomes much more crucial, particularly for the vulnerable groups. The inclination of vulnerable groups towards the opposition or their scepticism towards the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been ­indirectly acknowledged by the top leaders of the ruling party. For such groups of vulnerable voters, having the option of an alliance politics that is refined through trust, and the possibility of winning political power is what prompts them to place their trust in such alliances and the parties that form them.

However, for those who put their trust in such parties, would they themselves or their respective parties validate this trust by carrying out the decision of voting with the transferability and transparency of collective purpose? Will such parties make sincere efforts to respect the trust of the vulnerable voters? However, as the state of alliances is unfolding in the post-election context, it seems that the pathways of trust are filled with doubts, failures, scepticism, uncertainty, and anxiety, demonstrating profound mistrust. The failure to forge an alliance showed that the trust that the voters posed in these parties was associated with the risk of electoral failure, revealing a skin-deep trust in the alliance or a complete absence of trust. When the possibility of forging an alliance based on trust goes out of balance, the necessity to form a government becomes mere rhetoric or an empty cry. The imbalance of the relationship between this possibility and this necessity, resulting in the inability to form neither an alliance nor the government, translates into a breach of the voters’ trust. The continuous breach of their trust by the parties as well as some sections of voters who have preferred cross-voting, can become a moral burden for voters who are subjected to ­vulnerabilities. Trust as moral force may lose its essence as such voters will even stop taking a risk by throwing their lot in with such parties.

Similarly, voters supporting the majority party and who have been with the party irrespective of its performance do not have to put their trust in such a party. In such cases, trust is radically substituted by faith, which is already given and does not have to be constructed. Their support to the majority party is based more on faith and less on reason, particularly self-enlightened reason. But, voters do possess such reason and yet they use faith and not reason while voting for a party that has not delivered. This was clear in the recent elections, where peasants and the unemployed youth did vote for the ruling party. These voters’ rational response should have been to ­refrain from voting for a party that failed to keep promises or whose policies led to economic hardship to many. In fact, this response would have been in conformity with the self, with these voters having trusted their own selves. Such voters who vote for a party with full faith tend not to carry the burden of trust, as they do not have to take risks in choosing their party. Trust assigns autonomy to a voter in taking the risk of placing their trust even in a leader or a party or parties that would make the electorally effective alliance necessary and the genuinely ­responsive government possible. Although risk-taking is suggestive of autonomy and agency, this does not mean that the politics of equal opportunities and attention should be ­converted into a game of speculative capital which functions on risk-taking. It is the responsibility of the opposition parties not to condemn the voters from the vulnerable groups to risk-taking all the time. The moot question is: will the opposition parties take the transformative urge, inherent in the trust of the vulnerable voters, seriously? Will the ruling party provide concrete evidence of eliminating the conditions that produce vulnerability for such groups?

Updated On : 14th Jun, 2019


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