Uphold values of inclusivity and vote for development


Democracy’s success partially lies in the success of its electoral processes and electioneering. India is all set to set an example once again in its journey as a democracy. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already invited representatives of parties from different countries to witness the momentous exercise of electoral democracy in India. Many parties have accepted the invitation and the world is going to witness this humongous veritable celebration of the world’s largest democracy. Having witnessed elections and electoral politics from close corners, my experience as a polling officer in one of the remotest areas of the country did not give me an ideal sensation of satisfaction, which I think, had been there in my memory giving me painful prickles.
Whenever I found a reason for me to rejoice at the festivities of elections and being witness to the jubilation of political parties dominating the social ambiance completely, there has always been a sense of remorse originating in my memory from the uproar of animosity between two groups who fought and wounded each other in the name of their candidates and in another instance, to my horror, I still remember having been approached by a candidate offering a handsome amount for my vote, which he said, if I was ready to cast in favor of him. Again, in another situation I realized how challenging it could be when you find a particular section of the society is shooed away from casting its votes and some people by exercising their muscular dominance forcefully cast the votes of those who they managed to drive and keep away from reaching the polling booths. This indiscriminate monopoly by parties and groups that belong to prominent caste fractions and disruptive elements is still active in areas where even the media fail to expose them and the officials are forced to derail the procedure.
This year, from April 19 to June 1, we will participate under the scorching sun of the Indian peninsula, the exercise I mentioned in the beginning and its festivities. There is everywhere an enthusiasm for change or there is of course a demand emanating from the desperation of unfulfilled desire of people that asks the government to go through a profound polishing impact. Always seeking something better from the government is the usual norm. Those who failed to improve their position were discarded and this was the principal reason that forced us to test new parties and their new governance methods. Post independence India had a particular regime under Nehru that went for more than a decade. But there was this incense of dissatisfaction seeking change and people were soon to look for alternatives and new political parties were formed to topple the hegemony of the ruling class. Every election brings this opportunity or gives liberty to people to decide as to what their requirements are. It is a period that forces the warhorses on the fray to stop and listen to the people. You will find politicians walking the extra mile in implementing tactics to convince and console voters and fling offers of prospects in case of their being voted to power. From framing impactful narratives to field popular candidates with winning strike rate to the preparations to attract votes into their kitty, all parties are busy in defining democracy in their own way. Election season holds the voters responsible for their decisions. They can decide as to what should be the deciding factors that they would elect a particular candidate for.
National Elections 2024 decisively is a straight fight between the most prominent Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rest of his opposition which has directly or indirectly chosen to stand under the I.N.D.I.A umbrella. This time, the government under Modi is well aware of the fact that the main plank it can fight the elections is its performance. Its usual anti-Congress stance may not fructify in winning elections. Congress has been out of power for a decade and the corruption scenario that it was held responsible for before 2014 is slowly fading. The new voters and the first timers need new narratives and new hopes. While jubilation on the winning side is always justified, there is an important aspect that frequently goes sidelined. In the case of the 2019 National Elections, almost 33 percent of the genuine voters preferred not to vote. Which means, despite being jubilant about India’s success as a democracy, there is a chunk of population that identifies the emerging scenario as meaningless and decides to stay away from it. Every election brings with it social, economic, political and religious consequences.
Interestingly, India’s electoral democracy is not a holistic exercise for development alone. It is bound to bend its head to family, society, caste, religion, region, language and many more factors. An ideal study truly reveals the fact that development has never been the main reason that we chose a particular candidate for. A candidate is chosen to jump into the fray for various reasons. This could be his family prominence in that locality or the caste dynamics that would go in his favor or it can also be due to his radical ideological stance that shoots him to popularity. There is again a factor that counts important these days, a person’s social media reach. The subjects he handles in the social media and the acceptance and sometimes the quantum of opposition he receives makes him a favorite pick for candidature. In such cases development always takes a back seat. But naturally the candidate chosen by a particular party fits in the narrative it sets and he is mounted on shoulders with fictitious and spontaneous glory he is deliberately adorned with. In order to make fortunes from the Sandeshkhali horror, the BJP decided to field Rekha Patra, a survivor of the violence, someone who dared to question the TMC hooligans. She was one among those the Prime Minister called over the phone. Describing her “Shakti Swaroopa” the Prime Minister was setting a distinctive trend helping her shoot to popularity and giving a big blow to his opponent the TMC.
Every vote really is a communication that a voter makes to his country. He communicates his aspirations and conveys his concerns. Irrespective of the electoral hysteria and pomp on the streets, in the polling booths a voter is silent. He needs to make a decision not for him but for his country. He understands the intensity of convulsion he is passing through as his dreams fall apart. He is worried about the future of his children who he knows should find a place in a country that houses the world’s largest population. He is expected to realize his responsibility while pressing the button on the EVM. There is the realization of India’s growth as a significant global power. There is again a pinch of reality painfully passing through his veins for his not being able to catch up with the wind of progress. Every election is a new stepping stone wherein we give wings to our dreams. Standing before the EVM there should be a dream flashing the sphere of our mind dictating where we would like to see our country when it completes a century of its independence. Vote for the status quo or vote for the change, the decision is ours and that is the beauty of democracy.

editorial article
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