Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Complete Citizen- Finally!

Yes, you guessed it right- I cast my first vote today, and, though many of you would have exercised this before, its giving me a good feeling- no, this wouldn’t change the wrong things around me, or make this world a better place, but this at least makes me feel like a complete citizen today, and gives me the right to raise my voice when I see something wrong happening, without feeling like I haven’t done my bit!

The last few days for me, at home, have been electorally charged. Happens when you have a politically aware household, and live in the perhaps the most politically charged city (Kolkata) in the whole country.

No kidding, guys! For those of you who have been following the election process for the last month (at least I have, and trust me, it’s a hundred times more interesting than the contrived IPL DLF maximums & Citi moments of success- ugh!!), we have been treated to voter turnout percentages of 40-60% around the country, with supposed politically aware cities like Pune registering an abysmally low (and extremely disappointing) 45%, the Mumbai glitterati in posh South Mumbai finding electoral similarities with the illiterate poor of the dusty interiors of Bihar, from the communally charged Gujarat to the extremely passionate Andhra, it has all mostly been a sorry tale of low voter turnouts. A lot was to blame, with excuses ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous- public apathy towards the continual non-governance by their elected representatives, the mid-summer heat, the IPL circus, people leaving town to take advantage of the 4 day weekend, people staying in town but refusing to leave home from fear of another Tsunami (ok, I made that up!), etc. etc. etc.

But if any of you have kept tab on the voter turnouts in West Bengal, it has been an astonishing 80% (and that is the average figure, at places it has been higher!)!! Yes, with all the attendant problems we talked about, and some more- Maoist threat and violence, non-Maoist threat and violence- I mean that unleashed by the political parties. The elections here have been violent to say the least, the usual complaints of booth jamming, rampant rigging, threatening voters with dire consequences have all been present, but all this have not been able to keep voters inside their homes. And today, when I was standing in the voter’s line for one and a half hours, the atmosphere there itself said a lot. People talking to each other, discussing politics, who will win and who deserves to rot in hell, I realized the satisfaction people derive from casting their vote, for it makes them feel powerful & relevant, even if once in 5 years! And that, my friends is the power of democracy!!

Now comes another interesting part- the post-poll analysis, the exit polls, and finally the D-day- 16th May when the results are going to be announced, and politics and arithmetic will blissfully be married time and again, for that shot at forming the government, or at least being a part of it, or even if that’s not possible, issue-based support from outside which can be withdrawn at a convenient occasion! And we would do well to keep a keen eye on the same, for even in these issueless elections, this probably is the most critical election in a long time, and who occupies the important positions at the helm might have more bearing on our lives than we care to imagine. So, let the credits roll, and the show begin!!