The Great Indian Election Tamasha has already begun- the usual party-jumping, mud-slinging, mock arrests, fake asset declarations, accusations and counter-accusations are all up and going. In the midst of it all, last week I came to know that after two unsuccessful attempts, finally my name now appears on the Electoral Roll (my Election ID has not yet come even after three applications but that's a different issue altogether) and so now I am officially eligible to play my part in electing the uneducated tainted money-hungry criminals to the Parliament.
Thanks to the aggresive campaigning by Jaago Re and others, this time around a lot of youngsters, myself included, have been made to believe that Every Single Vote Counts. But does it really? The ground reality seems different.
Take the case of last elections- a few days before the polls, the candidate of the nationally renowned "secular" party came to my building asking for votes. I, who had just turned 18 then, trying to be a concerned citizen, asked him- "Sir, what is your educational qualification?" Even before I could complete my question, he and his associates literally pounced upon me with "Bachche, bahut bolta hai re. Vote nahi dena hai toh mat dena. Hamre paas XXX (name of local slum) ke bahut votes hai!" and left. After this incident, not just my family, nobody from my building voted for him in the elections. The result- what was expected- he made his way happily to the Assembly riding on the votes of his "fixed" votebank. Did our votes matter to him?
This year around, the situation is not too different. The votebanks are getting ready. My housemaid who lives in the nearby slums announced last week that she has been offered Rs 2000 by "some politician" for voting for him. She, being illiterate, doesn't know the name or party of the candidate in question. All she knows is that she is getting Rs 2000 for pressing a particular button on a machine.
Leaving votebanks aside, if I look at the big picture, the situation is still far from ideal. The Congress has openly mentioned in its Election Manifesto that if they win, they will enforce Reservations for Muslims in Higher Education and Private Sector jobs (and yet call themselves "secular" party!). BJP-Shiv Sena is no better. The candidate from my area- Mr. Ram Naik has already declared that "if the slums are removed to make way for the Metro, I will make another Singur in Mumbai!" Pitching for MNS whose sole agenda is dividing Mumbaikars on Marathi-North Indian lines does not even arise. In this case, even if I want to cast my oh-so-valuable vote, whom do I vote for?
There is probably only one way out: 49-O.