The municipal elections are over.. They were less noisy and almost poster free but candidates did make their presence felt in novel ways: loads of street ambulations that looked like marriage parties where the well garlanded candidates paraded as grooms (never mind the gray hair and pot bellies) led by a rowdy group of hired supporters and drum beats. Their eager henchmen preceded them rapidly shoving garlands in the hands of by standers asking them to do the needful as the hero of the moment crosses their way.
What was different this time was the staggering number of independent candidates with amusing election symbols: over and above the well known hand, lotus ad elephant we had an aeroplane, a cup-saucer, a candle, a house, an locomotive, a banana, a mango, a book, a broom and more. Notwithstanding the use of EVMs, the supporters shouted: put your stamp on ..
The multiplicity of candidates and the well known time laxity in our land made many parties come face to face in the tiny lanes and often lead to arguments and fist fights, in one case even gunfire!
I was happy to see that even simple people found this aggressive and bombastic electioneering an insult to their intelligence. They just played on.. knowing that they would cast their vote for who they wanted. They were the ones who were quick to tell me the not so glorious antecedents which seems to be a common factor for everyone of them.
On election day however many hopes were shattered as for those who did not have voter's ID cards the options allowed by the Election commission once again divided India: PAN cards, driving licences or passports were ID's that would allow you to vote, whereas ration cards were disallowed. So those living in slums and whose name appeared on the electoral rolls could not vote as they did not have the required ID proof as they often do not drive cars, pay taxes or travel outside India!
Election day saw money exchanging hands and the presence of liquor was evident in the sway of many people as the day passed..
A friend called saying that she questioned the validity of electoral promises which seem to state the obvious as were not municipalities meant to provide citizens with water, electricity and a clean environment?
There was a small feeling of satisfaction as the "none of the above" option was included. I remembered the fight it had been to excercise the "refuse to vote" option some years back.
We indeed had come a long way.