They are both out to grab public attention. Only one wants your ballot while the other wants a slice of your digital life. And they both renew their attempts to win you over to their cause every few years. We are talking about political parties and operating systems. And while they might seem to occupy entirely different spheres of our lives, they do have more than a little in common. So much so that if one takes just the odd liberty or two, one can even imagine certain operating systems as certain political entities. And vice versa.
Here then is our attempt to see some of the leading operating systems in the grab of current Indian political parties. (Note: this comparison has nothing to do with any controversies or specific personalities involved in the Indian elections but is based on a light-hearted look at the perception of different OSs and political parties in the country).
Windows/ Windows Phone – Congress (I)
Forget all the recent charges of family and favour, the stark fact is that when it comes to sheer history, there are not too many parties that can match the Congress (I). Many identify it as the single most powerful political force in the country even today, although not as dominant as of yore. And that can be said of Microsoft's iconic Windows operating system. The OS was the main force behind the PC revolution, which is one of the reasons why so many still swear by it. And like the Congress, it has been taking some flak of late with its new OS (Windows 8, Windows Phone 8), but it remains such a behemoth and has so much history behind it that only the naive would dare write it off.
PM candidate: Nokia Lumia 1520
Party spoiler: Windows XP
iOS/ Mac OS : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
For many it is the party that thinks well, different. Its critics decry it as a closed house. A walled garden. And resident to fanatics who believe that their own path is the true one, and will destroy all others. For all that, people continue to vote for the party, allowing it to emerge as one of the leading contenders in the political arena after almost being wiped out in 1984. Shades of Apple which was brought back from the dead in the late nineties by Steve Jobs and whose iOS and Mac OS driven products are criticized for being closed and not as open and "mainstream" as others. Another feature that the Cupertino company shares with the BJP is the perception of discipline and the willingness to follow a hard line - anyone remember how Jobs was ready to declare Thermo-Nuclear War on Google? Nevertheless these very qualities endear them to many, making them contenders for the top spot.
PM candidate: iPhone 5s
BlackBerry: Communist Party of India – Marxist CPI(M)
Once considered a force on its own, the CPI (M) now makes its presence felt in most states through alliances. Shades of the former smartphone supremo, which now is increasingly relying on Android to boost its sagging popularity and just as leaders of the CPI (M) are seen speaking in rallies of other parties, so too is BBM now seen on iOS and Android. While the younger leadership is thinking of a flexible and open approach, a significant number of very staunch and loyal followers feel that the party would be best served by going back to its basics and standing tall against "capitalist forces", just as many BB loyalists wish the company would give up its touchscreen flirtations go back to good old QWERTY keyboards.
PM candidate (modern): Z30
PM candidate (old guard): Q10
Android: The Third Front
As a single entity, it is formidable. But more often than not, the parts are greater than the sum. And just as it is with the disparate members of the Third Front, so it is with Android. The OS when seen as a whole is extremely popular, but is riven by fragmentation - less than a tenth of the Android devices in the world run the latest version of its OS. And just as the Third Front's members twist and turn agendas so too does Android get interpreted and forked and used differently by different OEMs - Amazon and Nokia have versions that don't even have the official Google Play store on it. But still, all versions taken together in one boat, there is no doubting the power of Android. Keeping them together? Ah, that is another issue altogether.
Official PM candidate: Nexus 5/ HTC One M8 / Samsung Galaxy S5/ Lenovo Vibe Z/ LG G2/ Gionee Elife E7/ Samsung Galaxy Note 3/ Micromax Canvas Turbo Knight… it really depends on who sells more (gets more votes, you know)
Linux – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
Defiance. A claim to be open, transparent and for everyone. Those two features mark out Linux, which claims to be waging war against proprietary operating systems for more than a decade now, with varying degrees of success. It is these qualities - not to mention a certain level of 'holier-than-thou'ness - that makes Linux such a fine fit for the AAP. Like AAP representatives, Linux adherents firmly lay claim to being the underdogs who are taking on the empires of established and proprietary operating systems that they believe are at the root of all things evil in tech. Linux representatives however do tend to clash with each other as much as they do with the opposition, which only enhances the similarity they bear to the AAP flock.
PM candidate: Ubuntu