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Friday, April 10, 2009

To Vote Or Not To Vote

Why should we vote? It is because of two vital reasons. Firstly because it is our fundamental democratic right for which people struggled and suffered all over the world throughout history. Secondly because we must elect our representatives to form a government to give us good rule.

When we vote we naturally express our expectations. We expect better times, solutions to our everyday problems, provision of minimum amenities for quality living and a good security environment.

Politicians play on our expectations and make all sorts of promises to muster our precious votes. Most often these promises are forgotten or belied or abused. Some people stoically accept this as the most natural way of democratic life and do not bother about voting or not voting. Others get disillusioned and threaten to refrain from exercising their democratic right.

The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack disillusioned many. They were horrified at the hollowness of the security system. They poured into the streets demanding protection as their basic right and took the government and the politicians to task. The rest was history.

This sense of disillusionment is being increasingly seen if different parts of Maharashtra. People are being fed up continuously confronting the same nagging problems like lack of drinking water, lack of medical facilities and schools, lack of employment opportunities, problem of load shedding, vicious clutch of poverty and many others. False promises make their disillusionment turn into despair urging them on to take hard decisions. Different rural pockets of Chandrapur and Sangli and 27 villages of Jalgaon voiced their protests by deciding to boycott the general elections. The leper colony of Solapur too decided against voting owing to their continued misery. It is heart wrenching to see poor villagers articulating their helplessness. The bug is spreading fast and wide.

The scenario is disturbing. Experts and politicians should take note of this and think of ways to motivate the citizens instead of opinionating and politicizing the issue. Opinions do differ as ever. Some talk of there being ‘selfish motives’ behind voting and ‘petty politics’ behind not voting. Still others point out the ‘elitist bias’ behind the post 26/11 Mumbai uprising. But one cannot ever dissociate ‘people’ from a democracy and people’s genuine feelings must be attended to, and that too in good time.

India takes pride in being the largest democracy of the world. But pride must always be supported by commitment. Our democratic traditions must be preserved.



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