Arvind Kejriwal did not stun many when he invited the new Bharatiya Janata Party recruit, the candidate for chief minister in Delhi, Kiran Bedi for an open debate. Keeping aside any allegation that both the BJP and Ms. Bedi threw on Arvind’s invite, I wanted to figure out what could be the advantages of a debate like this. I feel the following could be serious advantages that the people of Delhi could gain from a debate.
– Such debates educate. Generally a government ends up doing a lot of work and a debate like this gives an opportunity to the representatives to showcase that work in a summarized manner at a point of time when the entire nation is watching them. Could there be a better opportunity to showcase work in a transparent manner. In this case Arvind can first talk of his 49-day government and work that the AAP did and also the work that the 27 MP’s have been doing even after the government has been dissolved. Kiran Bedi can talk of the work that the BJP government has done in power since the last seven months. Both then can poke holes into one another in a democratically structured polite debate.
– Such debates will tell the citizens who will buckle under pressure. Only in a debate like this, that will not be doctored by a media house under pressure from a political party, will a candidate have to be ready for answering the toughest questions as the nation watches. That will tell people who will be a better leader and someone who can take on administration well. If someone gets flustered in a simple debate like this, how can he/she manage a complete government?
– A debate like this will force candidates to do what they promised. The nation will watch and if a politician commits he or she will have to deliver. In an era where presidential campaigns are incredibly micro-managed and scripted, live debates are one of the few opportunities that voters have to see the candidates “in action”. In a country like India, where politicians often back out of their promises they make in manifestos, it will be very tough to back out from the ones done in a debate like this.
– Debates force candidates to make sure they know something about a wide range of important issues, better preparing them for office. It is pertinent for Delhi’ites in this case to know how much a Arvind Kejriwal knows about Delhi and how much Ms. Bedi knows. At the end of the day if you are going to run the government, you should know root issues that are plaguing the city.
Ultimately the voters will see the debate, use their brain, read more about the work done and take a decision. But a healthy debate, something that will be watched by a majority of the nation, will be advantageous to the electorate and the leaders both.