If you recall from a previous post, on December 6th we were enjoying our stay at the Taj Lake Palace, but due to the Ambani/ Piramai Wedding had to change our lodging to the RAAS Devigarh Palace, a renovated fortress. Set on top of a hill overlooking the Aravalli Mountains, the palace was not only originally built in 1760 using locally mined marble, but that same marble was also employed during its restoration. This marble also played a significant role during our stay, but I will leave that for a future post. The palace is remote and formidable:
And the views are breathtaking:
Even the rooms were eye-opening although a bit anachronistic:
It was difficult to reconnoiter all the levels and turns and courtyards of the fortress. I tried using a compass to try to get to a number of camera-worthy ledges only to find myself in the same courtyard I had left 15 minutes prior. Ah well, I got a good amount of exercise in my failed attempts so looked forward to dinner and a few relaxing glasses of wine.
You see, December 7th was the date of major Indian provincial elections and an edict was sent out saying no liquor of any kind was to be served to ANYONE until the elections concluded.
Why? Was there a belief that people could be influenced by a dram or two? Or that they might not vote at all if they got tipsy? How would serving tourists cause a problem? Never got a definitive answer.
India’s politics, like the rest of the country is intense, supersized and to a neophyte like myself utterly fathomless. But let me try to offer a few facts:
- There are 7 National Parties
- There are 24 State Recognized Parties
- There are 2044 Registered but not Recognized Parties
What are the differences? Simplistically, a National Party must be recognized by at least 4 states and receive at least 4% of national votes – if not they are considered regional. One specific difference is that National Parties and State Parties are allowed to contest elections using their own symbols. For example:
The oldest National Party, the Indian National Congress (INC) has this symbol:
The largest political party in India and the one in power at the time of the election is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has this symbol:
The unrecognized parties have to select from available symbols which change from election to election. Such “free” symbols could include coconuts, balloons, bread, carpet, bottle, even an air conditioner. Really.
At the time of the statewide elections on December 7th, the BJP party was in total power with Narendra Modi as the most powerful Prime Minister in 30 years.
So what happened? Millions voted and a major defeat was handed to the BJP as they lost the elections for representatives in the major states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, portending troubling times for Modi in upcoming elections. Oh and the name of the head of the INC is Gandhi.
I was struck by the similarities to this election and the recent USA election in the House and Senate – except for this statistic. Over 74% of voters turned out for the India State Elections, while although a record, the US turnout was 46%.
I think I am not the only one who needs a drink even if it is this – EYES ONLY – you know who you are: