To vote or not to vote

I have not voted in the past 3 elections as my name had mysteriously disappeared from the voting list. This time it surprisingly reappeared. Wonder why! Actually the last time I voted was when I exercised my right not to vote and made it to the newspapers! I guess that was when someone decided to strike my name off the rolls. Now I am on the rolls again. Things have changed since and we even have the NOTA option. But quite frankly what is the use of this option as nothing comes out of it. We need to give the None of the Above option some teeth.

Voting is our duty, specially we who have been given the intellectual capacity to truly understand what democracy means and the responsibility it entails. It is not enough to vote for someone who has given us infrastructure and glitzy malls with the desire to make our city as beautiful as Singapore or some other fancy city. when we vote, we also need to think about the children begging at red lights, the children working in abysmal conditions when they should be in school. When we vote we should also think about the millions in our city who lived in dreadful and disgraceful conditions rucked away in cramped damp and dark holes because no one ever thought of proper habitat for what we call poor, but who are an integral part of the life of a city. When we vote we need to think of the school children who are packed in classes like sardines in a box, who have no drinking water or basic facilities. When we vote me must keep in mind all the unfulfilled promises as well as all the wily agendas and vote back manipulations.

I have witnessed several elections where candidates go make promises to unsuspecting people, promises they know they cannot ever honour. How many times have I not heard that slums will legalised if you press the right button or tick the right box, slums that I have then seen raised before my eyes while the candidate goes AWOL and his phone rings and is not answered.

When we vote we must think about the children who die of malnutrition every day in our very own city, of the innumerable homeless who sleep in the winter nights. There is so much that is wrong around us. It is time something changed.

The known political parties are sides of the same coin. Corruption is rampant and out of control. Money power is everywhere. This year people were paid 300 rs a day to participate in rallies and the much preferred padh yatras or walks. We had one come by the project why lane. You first hear drums beat from far and then an 'advance' party rushes with garlands they thrust in your hands so that you garland the candidate. Then comes the candidate followed by some workers and an army of paid campaigners. This time we had a lady volunteer from France who was given a garland and played the game. I was most amused when I was told that the candidate asked for her vote. She looked European to the hilt. The candidate seemed in a daze and playing a well rehearsed script. Bottles of hooch have flooded the slums and I believe money is abundant.

Till this election, I really did not want to vote. More so because I was experiencing first hand the lies that had been carefully woven to entice voters. This time we have a third option. It may not be the best but it is at least a beginning. If they put up a respectable show then we may see a new breed of people coming into politics, people who can at least act as watchdogs and ensure that things run better. If they fail then it will be a long time till we see a change in our political scenario. So this time we have to vote, and vote consciously.

The choice is ours!

PS: I just cast my vote. The booth was in the local Government school. I was appalled at the state of the classrooms, the broken window panes, the desks and chairs that looked like a legacy of a Dickensian novel, the neglected play ground! This one of the better schools. I can only admire the kids who study there and their motivation. I would have run away. What is worse is the fact that these classes are in one floor barracks. All that needs to be done is build a proper multi storied school. Are we not paying a cess on education. It is time to ask where our money goes.