The recent municipal elections came and went without much ado, particularly in upmarket colonies. We were blissfully spared the din of past elections as well as the zillions of posters that plastered every available wall space. This was courtesy the new campaigning laws. At best a few leaflets were dumped in mailboxes. However it was another story in densely populated areas as the ones where our centres are located. These areas had their share of loud campaigning, slogan shouting and drum beating. We were treated to several padyatras -
at best translated as political walks - where the garlanded candidate walks through lanes and by lanes preceded by drum players and followed by a motley crew. It is quite laughable as one wonders if the site of a heavily garlanded candidate with folded hands and a plastered smile urges one to vote for her/him.
This was also the time when Akash, one of our new students in the special section, went AWOL time and again. When asked the reason for his absence he smiled in his inimitable way and answered quite merrily that he had gone to raise slogans and was paid 200 rs a day to do so. Now Akash is a young mentally challenged adult. He has joined our centre recently. Prior to that he never went to school or any institution and was a free spirit roaming the streets and viewing life with the mind of a six year old. It is people like Akash who are lured by politicians to be a part of the slogan shouting cavalcades. Akash cannot begin to fathom the meaning of elections and democracy. Yet he has a voter's card and proudly went to exercises his franchise. What a farce!
Anjali another student from the special class went 'electioneering' too and earned her 200 rs bounty. She went to vote I presume for the party who enticed her with goodies. It is sad but true that mentally challenged persons have the right to vote but do not have the right to inherit or even open a bank account. What hypocrites we are. Anyone is a good enough vote bank, particularly of one that is amenable and compliant.
So elections were earning time for our two challenged students.
And in slums, in spite of all the electoral commission's diktats it was also party time as booze and snacks were distributed with alacrity and impunity. This is election India style!