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Reflections on my vote

Reflections on my vote
Highlights

I have never voted so far; this time I intend to do, not because 2014 is going to be a turning point in the post-independent political history of India

I have never voted so far; this time I intend to do, not because 2014 is going to be a turning point in the post-independent political history of India as the two main national parties make me believe, but because I have got the chance for the first time in my life to exercise my franchise.

I would have missed the opportunity once again to contribute to the country’s democratic process in my own little way had not one of my relatives prodded me to join him in registering my name in the voters’ list. That was a few years ago when I came to Hyderabad on a brief vacation and the visit coincided with the ongoing electoral revision in my locality.

A few months later, and after verifications, two voter ID cards were delivered by post, one on my name and another on my wife’s. I felt happy that at last I got empowered to politically assert myself through the vote when I got a chance. Now it is beckoning me. I know my voice is feeble and one vote in lakhs is like a drop of water in the ocean. But as they say, drops make a mighty ocean, votes by mostly faceless people make or mar the chances of a candidate winning or losing an election.

To that extent, my vote is valuable and since it has a value (not in terms of buying or setting a price for it) I consider it criminal to misuse or abuse it. Or, for that matter, abstain from voting, citing reasons as varied as ill health and lethargy. Like in many Western countries, voting should be made mandatory, particularly now, since there will be a clause under which voters can choose ‘none of the above’ option if they think no candidate deserves their valuable votes.

However, that was not the reason for not able to vote earlier. During every general election, I happened to be either out of State or the country and once or twice when the polls were held I was not in the voters’ list since my feet were not firmly planted in one place.

Surely, there may be many people like me -- for example, NRIs who consider themselves as Non-Required Indians when it comes to voting -- for whom voting is an experience of a different sort. And, this time, the Election Commission is making sure that every eligible voter, young and old, has once-in-a-five-years thrill of being a participant in the world’s largest democratic process.

Besides a media campaign imploring the youth above 18 years of age to register as voters, the EC has taken to the new media in a big way to coax the young to vote and also to check whether voters’ names are on the electoral rolls. If they are not, well, they will be advised how to get their names included.

Surprises may be in store while seeking voter ID cards in the form of distortion of names, which, I am sure, polling officers would not mind. For instance, my family name that begins with ‘S’ has become ‘Ace.’ Is it transliteration of Telugu into English I don’t know; or, the kind of software used at that time had an uncanny way of imitating sound to turn into words. Even if I believe it to be so, then, logically, it should have been ‘Yes,’ not ‘Ace.’ However, I should be glad that I have not been made an ‘Ass’!

After having reconfirmed through an SMS that my name and that of my wife are secure in the voters’ list, I have started my countdown to the E-Day. That is also the beginning of my dilemma: Whom to vote?

Political parties are all same; they make tall promises, knowing well they can’t fulfill. They play to the gallery with drums and trumpets; only the fury of the sound remains, nothing else afterwards. They level charges, rebut them, and make fresh ones to be countered again. I am yet to hear what the aspirants to political power want to do for the people they represent at State and Central legislatures.

My problems are the same as anyone else who is crying for attention. From roads to power and water supply, sanitation to sewerage, it is negligence personified. I don’t know who represents our area at the civic council, the constituency at the Assembly and Parliament. I believe the number of people the elected represent is too large to meet everyone individually and hear them patiently.

True. But should not civic amenities and common problems that continue to confront the people year after year concern them? I believe the people’s reps are too busy with their ‘internal’ problems to look into the people’s problems. They spare some time only during the election time to address small and big gatherings to deliver more promises. I wish they have the power and magic to translate words into deeds.

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