United Voters of India: Constructing the Collective (Part 6)

The Basics – 1

The idea behind United Voters of India (UVI) is straightforward: it is a voting bloc. The core support base of the existing political parties is about a third of all registered voters. Another third are non-voters and the final third are what can be considered as non-aligned (floaters and wasters). Floaters are those who will swing towards the party likely to win, while wasters are those who will vote for one of the smaller parties or independents who have no hope of winning. So, if the non-aligned and the non voters (NANVs) are aggregated, they account for two-thirds of the electorate. If a majority of these voters can unite, vote and vote as one, then it becomes possible for them to get almost any candidate elected – irrespective of what the other political parties do.

Of course, there are many questions. Why will people vote as one? Why will erstwhile non-voters suddenly start voting? Who will they vote for? What if the NANVs commit and then don’t vote as one? Is there any way to monitor the actions of the bloc? In my earlier series on UVI, I have attempted to answer many of these questions. UVI is entirely voluntary. There is no coercion for anyone to join or to vote for a specific candidate. My point is that it is mathematically possible for a third of the electorate who are not committed to a political party to come together and decide the outcome of every election in a first-past-the-post system that India has. A united 33 from the NANV’s 67 has a very good chance of trumping a divided 33 that supports the existing political parties.

Technology in the form of a smartphone app can make the coordination between NANVs much easier than was earlier possible. All someone has to do is to sign-up on the app. The identification will need to be via that person’s VoterID which can be digitally mapped to the individual. Care can be taken to anonymise the identity once it is verified. What matters is the aggregate rather than the specific individual. Once a threshold is reached (let’s say 10% of the electorate in a constituency), then primaries can be held prior to an election for the selection of a people’s candidate. Only those who have never contested an election on behalf of another political party will be allowed to contest. (IndiaVotes has a record of all candidates who have ever contested a Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha election.)

The winner of the primary gets to contest as an Independent. All the members in that constituency are asked to vote for this particular candidate. It is an honour system and there is no point joining if one doesn’t plan to abide by the rules. Of course, political parties can try and rig the internal vote by asking their core base to sign-up. My belief is that most political parties do not really know who their supporters are so such a drive will not be as effective. Another way around this problem could be to have a new UVI member get a referral from an existing UVI member but this could slow the adoption.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.