What should Motivate me to Vote this time?
Like everyone I wish to be ruled by an effective government post general elections. I have to cast my vote carefully to elect a team which, god willing, will lead a clean and stable government. Well, I began enquiring into certain moot questions before I voted.
The rule for the next five years will impact everyone in the country very strongly, be it a diplomat overseas, a soldier at the borders, a tribal person in far off hills. It will also make an impact on an undertrial or a convict serving a sentence in the prison. This is although the latter have no voting rights as per the statutes. It is beside the point, and ironically enough, that no bar exists for a convict not to become an MP or MLA in certain circumstances.
Then I wanted to diarize my thoughts on voting to bolster my nerves only to vote with a positive mind. Need I not play a key role in the democratic process that starts right from polls? Conveniently, I delved sparsely on certain topics such as how pious democracy is and how sacrosanct are the duties and rights of the citizens. Likewise I did not stress beyond a point on topics such as significance of our collective will (when not more than even a half of the polled votes is secured by the winning party to form a government), self governance, social awareness, community consciousness and pressure groups.
To start with, I was not being myself yesterday and wondered what if I skipped voting this time. I also thought why I should not pass some good time watching the crowds coming out of the polling station wearing a look of ‘I did it’ on their smug faces, rather. Then I was afraid there is a scope for the people to take me for an exit poll surveyor. I even thought of spoiling the chances of a ‘sure-win candidate’ with my negative vote. Briefly, I wanted to be a conformist and cast my vote, blindfolded. But I disagreed with all my above bizarre ideas and decided to be more serious and behave like a conscientious voter.
In the last elections, I didn't like a candidate. I also wished none in my family or from my close circles voted for that person or the party. But today I realized my approach is not right.
There used to be times when I thought the illiterate has no good reason for not voting at the elections. But in the later times, I was dumbstruck when I listened to them explaining why they avoided this process. I realized how matured they are about the politics. Understandably so, the leaders are afraid to rub them the wrong way, more so around elections times.
After India’s independence, one used to be taken lightly when he or she did not vote. When I was young, there were very few women voters in the lines. I think it is not the case now. This is after the governance has come to the doorsteps of each and everyone, and also beyond, right into the living rooms. I wonder: is there an excuse for not being aware of the bad roads, poor lighting conditions, lack of water supply, poor conveyance, bad traffic, pollution, eve teasing, etc. when the same are staring in the electorate’s face? Obviously, these are painful for everyone like me. They are enough to prompt one to dash towards the polling booth to register a 'complaint/'appeal/prayer’ in the form of ballot.
Piteously the politicians have become thick skinned, unlike the times when they were somewhat dense. They have become so impetuously self-serving as to give corruption and crime new respect, leave alone their misrule. Alas, they have also institutionalized all the wrong things as a way of life and part of the law. This is outright unethical in politics on any day anywhere. I even disapprove the cliché, that politics is the last resort of a scoundrel. It is no more so in our modern democracies. Today, politics became a specialized practice and through the right instruments it can do or undo anything under the sun, right from my cooking gas connection to the shares in my portfolio, to whether I am to be hanged or left alone as a lifer, to using solar cell on my roof, to recognizing Crimea. The political mangers play with public money worth trillions that has my share too. I wanted to pass the keys only to a party or candidate that I trust.
Poor living conditions had existed and went on unnoticed in the history of our independence. No one bothered to look into many of the dark rooms in our society, although some cupboards are rattled to reveal some sample skeletons when that was too late and too inadequate. Here I do not blame the earlier rulers entirely. They are just a part of our larger society from where they arrived from, and come to represent. Hence, some blame has to be owned by the citizens like me, at least for our local complaints. Most of the issues can be settled by us through our local communities when possible. I should not expect my government to cater everything to me from cradle to grave. The purpose of local self government at grassroots is only towards that end. Pity, even these elections are being fought on party lines.
My strange looking grouse goes like this. Why the government did not cultivate me as an informed citizen and enabled me to know what I should ask the executives/legislators (This seamless identify in the posts has to go.) Rather the governments in democracies may be tentative to teach on the need of their citizens to discharge the given duties in the constitution. According to me, a government has to be a guru by proxy and invest more funds in education, rather than defense sector.
Today, besides bad roads, my nation is suffering from other pressing problems like rising prices, unemployment, poor educational system, increased crime rate, health issues, increased neglect towards the weak, namely destitute women, children, the physically challenged, underprivileged classes, minorities, daily wagers in towns and farmhands, et al. In external relations too, my country needs a level playing field in the comity of nations along with our secure borders. My country should be listed at the right places in the various global indices and indicators of development without mismatches in the parameters to avoid bringing shame to our national identity.
Well, I am becoming wary of giving more and more reasons that should prompt me to go and vote this time. Without my knowledge, I am thrown at the mercy of some strange political philosophy, what with the coalitions formed by strange bedfellows. So the policies remain somewhere among the plethora of ideologies from left, right, far left, far right to the middle of the centre, waiting to be evolved and converted into unique programs which do not match our system, a key to our solidarity in an amorphous polity. In order to vote beyond these, I have to also consider my traditions, customs, and affiliations since, after all, I am related to some or other social special group that dictates my voting decisions.
Finally, I am bogged down by many dilemmas before my expected visit to the polling booth happens. I have also a fear that I may be confounded with regional interests, aspirations closer to my community and their interests that modify my personal and political will. It need not be mentioned here, that the parties’ anti incumbency curse might also haunt me to the extent I may change my own philosophy. Ironically, I see even the first-time voters are thinking hard on anti- incumbency lines. Sadly, election manifestos are treated as misnomers by many, and the same stares in my face as one gap.
New developments bamboozle me. Will the NOTA (None Of The Above) option in the new ballot impact poll results? I don’t think so, except it gives vent for my expression which is not to vote for anyone in particular. As elections became big businesses, I hear voters too wanting their cut in the form of a cup of tea, bottle of liquor, a couple of big currency notes, et al. Selling one’s vote and buying the same by default seemed so easy as quid pro quo propositions. I doubt there will be a tendency among the people to take the bribe from all contenders all the same, and for the parties to be too willing to give it to all, as though to get rid of their illegitimate loot. In sooner time, no wonder if vote is seen traded online in illegal Bitcoin.
Stretching my readers’ patience, I have to give some of my other big fears. Like in the aggressive marketing and consumerism, there is an organized propaganda taken up by the parties coupled with misguided social engineering. I add the so-called objective pre-poll surveys which may influence the voters due to wanton leakages.
With all this I wonder, will my ‘best’ candidate have a chance. And my worry is how to explain why my candidate/party is best. It is in the everyone’s knowledge how the elected members change their voice, platform, colors, and coats overnight and what if my chosen candidate turned a rebel in the party I voted for and indulged in cross voting. Will he or she, my candidate, report to me at least once in a month for my review? People laugh at me if I say this. Is it not high time I had the power as a voter to recall and censure my appointees, admitted there is no punitive action against me for not voting, like such stringent laws are imposed on voters in some countries? There is no guarantee for my party winning a respectable vote share because of too many parties being in the fray.
My India is no doubt a caste/community based polity. When such card decides the outcomes mostly, should I take pains to go and vote? This is when the ruling government party or the opposition, or even both, plays one section against the other. Should I be a party to the entire tamasha/charade?
Despite all my above questions and self-doubts, I decided to vote this time using my free and rightful choice, since no choice can be said as bad, unintelligent, motivated, coerced, opinionated, bribed, and crazy in a perfect democracy. Democracy is always perfect and sacrosanct when it has a constitution with custom.
Ultimately, I assured myself that I should be a part of this mammoth sample of the electorate in India and its polling outcome in the form of results will surely throw out a correct picture of India’s collective mind. The larger is the sample (as it is the case with the Indian electorate) more perfect will be the outcome (a la research study). And this has to be accepted with respect and obeyed as people’s mandate. The more fractured a result is after the polls, more of democracy will come into play, and finally a government however weak, shall be established. I am sure the same will function or perish on merits, what with watchdogs from the media and vigilante groups and regional players breathing down the government neck to make it more vibrant.
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||Thanks for your response and input, Padmaja.||
||A thought provoking, insightful and timely write Seshuji. I must confess I've never voted in my life as there was always this confusion which thug to vote for. But this time, I intend to vote definitely, thanks to the availability of the NOTA (None of The Above) option! I amglad at last my vote will be counted!||