My political leanings are well known; I’ve all but yelled it from the rooftops.
And for those of you who were concerned about my state after this…er… shock, I’m fine even expected such an outcome, though not like this.
So, anyway, the following bits are to justify the title. I wanted to actually make it ‘Say it’s not true’, after the Queen+Paul Rodgers song for World AIDS Day, but then this Advani phrase suits it better.
My first concern has been about this evil of reservations. And that there is an order of priority according to religion, to claim the country’s resources. If all goes well in the next three months, and for six-seven years following that, I’ll be free of all this nonsense. But what about the rest of the country? The heart bleeds.
The next thing has been about the blatant selling of our national interest. The N-Deal for one. It should have been renegotiated.
The most important thing however is the security issue. I’ve come close to getting blown to bits, but thankfully escaped.. once was at Forum Mall, another was at Army School. Both places they detonated bombs. And then there was the frenzied set of phonecalls to relatives in Mumbai and those in Delhi. I can (thankfully) only imagine the levels of anguish folks who’ve lost loved ones in terror attacks go through. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I can’t bear to watch millions of innocent lives being compromised for cheap motives like staying in power.
And then there’s the issue of Assam and the North-East. The place is overrun by illegal immigrants, a potential security threat. And everyone concerned as of now, apart from the BJP and maybe the AGP chooses to look the other way, or even encourage it for electoral gains. Separatist movements are on full swing, violence is a daily occurrence. No one else seems to have reached out to these separatist groups, tried to begin a peace process. And integrate the North-East with the rest of the country. That is one region which shares more border with other countries than with our own. And China is encroaching on the borders, and Manmohan doesn’t seem to be having sleepless nights about that.
Freedom of worship is yet another thing. Proselytization has reached new heights, and is slated to continue. A minister of state calls our gods names and no one says a thing? And he doesn’t bother to apologize?Symbols of our faith are encroached upon, and no one seems to turn a hair. The levels of polarization society is seeing now has had no precedent.
I don’t care if the people in power are young or old. I don’t give a damn if they are rich or poor either. They can be illiterate for all I care. All I ask for is some amount of patriotism. Of what use is competence when you don’t look at the country and your countrymen with love and a feeling of belonging? I find that sorely lacking in the UPA and the Left, who put party and self interests above national interest. And who don’t seem to take pride in being Indian. They have the ‘We are a third-world country’ mentality instead of a ‘We can/need to be a first-world country’.
So for five years, I’ve been hoping for a change in governments, cringed at all the injustice meted out by the establishment, and have seen an increasing number of people turn anti-UPA. But, well, I guess my sample space was localized… as is seen in the near-sweep of BJP in Karnataka, and the whole of Bangalore Urban. I was surprised Sangliana and Jaffer Sharif got beaten. And that Ananth Kumar was trailing for quite a while.
They say it’s good the Left is out… but now there’s nothing to stop Manmohan bending backwards to US demands, and considering it’s Obama, he’s surely going to demand his protectionist pound of flesh. And have his own solutions for the Kashmir problem.
On a more positive note, now the Congress can’t hide behind the excuse of the Left preventing development from taking place. It’s also good to see a non-fractured mandate, though one hopes it isn’t Amar Singh the Congress allies with. And now that their position is secure, hope they concentrate more on development than on nurturing votebanks.
On a lighter note, searches for ra_hul_ga_n_dh_i_s_girl_fr_iend are up again. Not scheduled to go down anytime soon, I guess. Folks say they are looking for the image of the future bahu of the nation, and by extension, the future kingmaker of the nation.
And for so long, the BJP’s slogan has been “Advani For PM”. Now that they have to sit in the opposition, it’s going to be “Advani Against PM”.
PS: On a personal note, I didn’t stick around watching the counting unfold (I can’t watch India lose a cricket match, d’you think I can bear to watch it lose its pride, wealth, and everything else?) and so I actually managed to get stuff done. Not everything went my way, but my laptop mysteriously came back to life this afternoon… (it had died a week or so back) hurray!
A hard day’s night, spent in fitful slumber. The morning after, spent in some more fitful slumber. Woken up to shouts of “If you remain sleeping like this, how will you vote?”.
I seem to have come a long way from since I was a kid, when elections were a source of endless joy to kids.
My center was a bit of a distance from my house, and man! you wouldn’t know there was an election going on. No sign absolutely, except for traffic jams on the narrow approach roads to the school.
A few tables under a few trees had folks who gave you your serial number. You took that and went to the relevant voting booth. They checked your photo ID and inked your finger. You went behind a cardboard screen and pressed a button. You heard a beep. It’s all over.
Hardly any sign that an election was on, save this fat youngish man who jumped in front of you and said “Naane Krishna Byre Gowda, medam, nannige vote haaki. Candidate #2 medam”. And young men in orange shirts saying ‘Saar saar, BJP-ge vote, saar, Ananth Kumar-ge vote maadi, saar’. And one ingenious guy who’d procured a model EVM panel from somewhere with Ananth Kumar’s name marked on it and showed you which button to press.Random kids running around with Congress flags. One of the ran upto my mother and said ‘Aunty, aunty, vote for Congress, aunty’. She said they had to be studying, not doing this sort of a job. They gave back a cheesy ‘aadre ivattu school illvalla aunty?’ That was about it.
And man, how many independents! The list of candidates was crazily long. I could have taught my two-year-old neighbor names of all the fruits and flowers just by showing her the EVM panel. No one seems to have cared about most of them… and hell, I didn’t even know Vatal Nagaraj was standing for elections till then!
A long long time back, when I was not old enough to vote, I used to live rather close to Vijaya Junior College, an election center. So you’d have folks coming to your door right from 7:30 am, exhorting you to vote. Not that anyone in our street needed it; every house had atleast one politically-aware member, in most cases, a grandfather, to drag the whole family off to vote even before the booth opened.
And that was a necessity…. someone else’d vote in your name if they could.
And the crowds! People thronged the place to vote. My uncle would check out the booth numbers well in advance just so that the rest of the family wasn’t caught in confusion and crowd when they went to vote. And maybe that’s why you hear stories only of families being separated at the Kumbh Mela and not at polling centers.
The path to the election center was lined with posters and buntings and whatnot. So many party symbols, so many colours. Bright orange ones for the BJP with Lord Ram posters, green-bordered ones with a wheel for JD, and… funnily, I don’t remember anything from the Congress campaign… maybe they thought they were beyond advertising, being so famous and all. You’d have partyLeader lookalikes, huge cutouts of politicians, and people shouting out slogans on microphones. And then you reached a desk which would mostly be manned by a volunteer you happened to know, and who wouldn’t wait until you told him your name to look it up and give you your booth number. And then you stood in queue with a gazillion others. When your turn came, they’d look at your ration card copy, make a mark against your name, a mark on your finger, and give you a ballot paper and point you to behind a cardboard screen. You stamped the paper and came out.
My grandfather took me to watch the fun, and the lady with the indelible ink very kindly obliged us by inking my finger as well. And I could show off in school the next day that I had ‘voted’
Talking of which… the indelible ink back then was some variant of ballpoint ink, and stayed where it was put for a week or two. Not like the ink now, which flows all over your hand and can be erased within minutes.
And enthu levels ohmigod…. all the old-timers on the street had taken it upon themselves to keep the poll fever on. They discussed, canvassed, volunteered, watched the news… and basically set the atmosphere. Even the oldest, senilest, illest folks turned up to vote, propped up by their sons or daughters-in-law. I remember this really ancient man on our street who went about telling the whole place to vote for BJP, vote for the lotus. And then comes out of the polling booth with a grin on his face, and when someone asked him who he voted for, he said with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Naanu chakrakke haakidini ‘ (I voted for the wheel (JD)).
Now my neighbors can hardly be bothered to get off their seats and trudge all the way to a center a kilometer away. There are no enthu old-timers either, to initiate conversation and discussion.
But most of all, I miss the entire election atmosphere. Even without the exit-poll gag, or saree and TV distribution, there should have been more of an atmosphere. I feel this is important, because it makes you feel like election is some sort of a ceremony, like bursting crackers on Diwali. Not some boring ‘fundamental duty’ you need to perform and get little in return, like paying taxes.
It should feel like it’s worth going back home after going half the way to the polling booth just to get your voter ID and come back, to vote. [For once, it wasn't me who forgot an all-important document before leaving the house.... it was my mother]. It shouldn’t bite that you are but one insignificant bit of a billion, and your vote is just a .000001% (figures not accurate) of the electorate.
And for that, nothing helps better than arrangements that look elaborate, and the infectious enthusiasm pervading the atmosphere for weeks before the polling date. It makes you feel like you’re doing something that matters, not like you’re wasting precious hours of work-free existence to take part in an activity from which you don’t get anything in the short run, a thankless job.
I don’t get why there’s a ban on offering voters TV sets and sarees. Or even cash. It’s all an incentive for people to come out and vote. Anyway it’s just one vote they can cast, great if they get something for it. Secret ballot is still guaranteed in this country for those who ask for it, so it’s quite a possibility voters take the saree/TV/cash and still vote for whoever they want…. atleast that’s what the flower-lady, the fruit-lady and all those folks I know who are lucky enough to get an incentive for voting do. I hate this mai-baap attitude of the government which presumes people are dumb enough to vote for anyone who gives them a saree.
My relatives in the US were talking about how during their presidential elections they don’t have any indelible ink, or extreme security measures, or loud campaigns which disturb their sleep…. the whole election process they said was so civilized, a far cry from the chaos in their homeland. [Aside: It brings to mind an image of folks walking into an election booth Apple-1984 style chanting "Obama, Obama".] Folks, don’t worry so much, we’re moving towards there.
Now if there was one aspect in which I’d beg people to not ape the West, I’d not talk about pub culture, or broken homes, or unhealthy food, or materialism, or capitalism or whatever crap… I’d just say leave our election fever be!
Bleg: I was wondering about ways to subvert the poll process, cast ultiple votes, capture booths and things like that. What are the chinks in the system? How do you sneak in votes in a number significant enough to make a difference? How much is possible without the compliance of the folks on election duty? How many folks on election duty actually subvert the process? What are the checks for the same? Someone kindly enlighten me.
Nah… I don’t have a good enough post to merit this title… getting my Voter ID passed off without incident.
Unless of course you count all our addresses being printed wrong, to some location that possibly doesn’t exist.
Or the guy with the ragged shirt and the gold chain, watch, bracelet and ring.
Or the ladies agitating that the ladies line moved slower than the gents’ one. And the policeman saying the ladies’ comp was virus-infected, and hence, slow. I offered to fix the virus with Avast, and the policeman vainly declared that no power on earth could fix the problem, and if it was so easy *mean look at me*, the nation would have developed many years back.
Nothing that really HAPPENED, or is worth blogging about. Just I don’t feel like passing up the title.