Posts Tagged ‘elections’

A question posted by a Facebook friend on his status got me thinking. He asked “give me a good reason why I should go and vote tomorrow?”. With all the extensive mobilization and promotion of our duty to vote, that such questions still remained, made me wonder.

At the outset, I came up with this one answer to that question, “Voting gives you the right to crib for the next 5 years. If you don’t vote, you can’t crib.”

Having said that, why really, does the thought of not voting come up? I have been there, in previous elections. Sometimes because I was frustrated by the system. Sometimes because I was giving an excuse to myself (“cunning intelligence”) while actually, I wanted to take a holiday, or was too busy at work. Those times, I had also asked similar questions, “Why should I vote? What good does it do? Finally the government is decided by rural votes..” and thoughts of that kind.

Maybe the terror attacks, maybe some ‘wisdom’ (??) over the years, has ensured that I don’t ask that basic question, about voting.

But there is a feeling amongst the intellectual classes that their vote does not matter. That there are vote banks, and they vote en masse, on account of certain factors – be it caste, be it money, whatever..

My thoughts on this subject are:

1. Maybe vote banks ARE big. Maybe they ARE influenced. Maybe they ARE manipulated. Or MAYBE NOT?! Maybe the so-called vote banks have seen through the manipulation. Maybe they have realized that election-after-election, when they voted together, it did not really deliver them any kind of salvation to their woes. So MAYBE they take their own calls, and vote differently. Or at least SOME do. And we see a shift. Perhaps a small shift.

2. If OUR chosen candidate does not win, if say a Meera Sanyal does not win, and an apparently lesser mortal wins, then do we sense frustration? If we get say, a 3rd front or 4th front emerging ahead at the center, do we again feel cheated? Do we resign ourselves with the thought that “vote banks at work again”? Hey, ever considered the fact that what we want, may not be the popular vote after all??

3. Elections finally are about popular vote. We “intellectuals” (and I include myself here) think that we know what is good for the country, and if things do not happen our way, then things are really wrong. Well, going down high-speed elevators, driving our air-conditioned cars, and having cups of coffee at 5-star coffee shops, gives us a certain view of the country. The real India may be different. In their own limited intelligence, they may have a view of what is good for them. And maybe we just do not identify with it. Gandhiji reached his sphere of influence after traveling the country, by road, by train, by being with people, by empathizing with them completely. If he was a practising barrister in England or South Africa or even Bombay, and from that pedestal, if he had preached about what is good for the country, we might still have been a British colony!

So, let what happen, happen. Lets believe that we have a system which is largely clean, at least as far as the process goes. And lets accept the verdict that we get. As the real popular vote. If it happens to be what we also wanted to see, great. If not, tough luck.. !

Just for the record, I have had my share of depression about the system, even during the run-up to this election, as you can see from this earlier post!

Newspaper headlines and some small print that I managed to catch, generate a few questions in my mind. Would love to have answers to these?

1. Are politicians such super beings? That while they have been busy members of the parliament for five years, they have also managed to be either fantastic investors or awesome business persons on the side, to have been able to increase their personal worth several notches! Even as accomplished full time investors and business persons have seen their worths going down, thanks to the stock market collapse, real estate pull down and the general recession. Rahul Gandhi’s worth went up from a couple of laksh in 2004 (wow.. was that a joke or what??!) to more than 2 crores in 2009. Would you not like that kind of growth in your capital?? He is said to have acquired a couple of shops in Delhi, worth about 1.3 crores. Would income tax investigate the matter to ask for the resources used to acquire this property?? Or that is only meant for common people like you and me?
Mind you, Rahul Gandhi is not an isolated case, most politicians’ worth has gone up. HOW do they do it? Maybe they can run some courses for us..

2. Priya Dutt, daughter of Sunil Dutt, fights on a Congress ticket. Her brother, with whom she has shared many a platform, and sworn lifelong love and shared the Dutt tradition and all that, now tries to take a SP ticket to fight the elections from Lucknow. The same brother who is an accused for very heinous crimes, during the Mumbai riots, and has been out on bail.

Cut..

To the candidate who is to oppose Priya in the elections. Mahesh Jethmalani, eminent lawyer, on a BJP ticket. BJP, the party with the Hindutva agenda. Who want to take stern action against Pakistan, should they come to power. Now Mahesh’s father, Ram Jethmalani, was quoted by Pakistani TV, making some very embarrassing (to India) statements, in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attack. In fact, both Mahesh and Ram have often defended hard core criminals, including the ‘enemies of the country’ kind, in courts.

With all this baggage, Priya and Mahesh get tickets from India’s two national parties! So the question is, “HOW?”. Do the parties not get candidates with real clean slates? Without any kind of baggage?? Or are these issues not considered as baggage anymore in Indian society?

3. Priyanka Gandhi’s father-in-law is found dead. “Found” dead. The most famous political family, a celebrity family like none other in India, and a scandal of this size. And yet the story appears almost in fine print in the dailies. And the hounding investigative media, who can run day long bulletins, after issues like why Katrina is chosen as India’a Barbie and not Aishwarya, choose to go quiet on this big scandal.

What do you make of this? Is this the ultimate “Godfather family” of the country (Italian connection is incidental.. or maybe not..?) who no one can dare speak a word against? What was the real reason behind the death? How was he just “found dead”?

4. The Telgi scam. Huge headlines. Thousands of crores of money (well,s tamp papers) simply printed. Huge participation of government sources. Dirt flies on minister Chhagan Bhujbal, DCP Pradeep Sawant and many other big names. Most have to lose their jobs, because evidence is clear enough.

Cut.

Few years pass. Other scams and other events capture public’s imagination. 26/11 happens. Huge political damage takes the toll of Maharashtra CM and Dy CM. Replacements have to be found.

Quietly Bhujbal is back. No one even notices. Because 26/11 is far bigger and everyone is focused on that. No one questions how Bhujbal is forgiven and brought back to power.

Few months go by.

And as if on cue, DCP Pradeep Sawant, accused in the same scam, also returns. Is reinstated. Again no questions asked. All is forgiven and forgotten.

Interesting eh?
The question is, “Is public memory so short after all? Will politicians and scamsters continue to thrive in these circumstances? Will we suffer crooks always??”

5. Under the circumstances, we go to vote in a few weeks now. And they tell us to go and vote, to be conscious of whom we are voting for, to be sure that we vote for ‘no criminals’. So the last question that I ponder over, on this lazy Sunday is “Is there anything like ‘no criminals’? Is there really an alternate option with a hope to actually pull in the votes and make us feel proud of our politicians??”

If you have answers, let me know.

Meanwhile, as in case of most other citizens, for me too, this phase will get over. I will return to my Sunday beer, my cricket match, my family, my Facebook, and pretend that these problems do not exist!