Published on April 18th, 20141
Why you should vote…even if your choice is NOTA
Lok Sabha elections are just around the corner for Mumbai. Here’s why exercising your vote would be a good idea.
Part 3 of the ‘Your Vote’ campaign for Lok Sabha 2014.
After several months of hoopla, the elections have finally arrived. It’s the time of the year when the common man suddenly assumes huge significance and becomes the focal point of political parties’ attention. Your vote counts and that makes you wanted by all – so what if these same ‘all’ neglected you and your voice for years? These unheard voices and pleas of the common man having fallen so far on deaf ears will suddenly now be heard.
Sometimes, this whole scenario makes us feel so betrayed by the political system that we decide to take our revenge by not voting. One feels, “Why should I vote now, after all, where was I all these years?” Yes, you are right in feeling so, but at the same time, this is not the way to ‘penalise’ the system. This way of punishing the system is counter-effective, as in the end, we stand out to be losers, too.
The serious tone at the polling station makes you realise how the voting process is not a joke, and how valued your contribution to it is. As one goes behind the box to use the electronic voting machine, you are free in that moment to discard all the opinions and judgements passed on to you, all the promises made by political parties. It is you who will decide, at that moment, which button to press.
I have pledged this time that I will vote. Whatever be my decision – to choose a party or to opt for NOTA (None Of The Above) – I will go and cast my vote. I have a small son, for whom my dream is that he should be a responsible Indian citizen, and this is my duty as a parent. I want to show my son that I follow my civic duties and take my citizenship seriously. Hence, I will make sure that on Election Day, I go and perform my duty with utmost sincerity.
For those who are still not convinced, there are some not-so-serious reasons to go out and vote as well. You can show off the little blue dot on your fingernail and boast about how you are a true Indian. Trust me, the moment the indelible ink is put on your finger, you feel the liberation that comes from having made a choice. The whole experience of going to the polling station is unique. Standing in line as you wait for your turn, you witness a whole range of activity. The serious tone at the polling station makes you realise how the voting process is not a joke, and how valued your contribution to it is. As one goes behind the box to use the electronic voting machine, you are free in that moment to discard all the opinions and judgements passed on to you, all the promises made by political parties. It is you who will decide, at that moment, which button to press. You are in your own bubble – you, the partition cordoning off the EVM from others’ eyes, and your decision to cast your vote. It feels like you are looking at a treasure chest, and the key is known only to you.
Whether you want to experience the magic of voting or not, do consider this: whether you vote or not, someone is going to win and capture the seat. So why not do your calculations and help the right people win? The anxiety and happiness to see someone you voted for winning, is a very different experience. You feel like you actually made a difference. Of course, maybe one would still lament and blame the elected ones later, but you would know you chose them and that changes your approach to your own criticism. Besides, what stops you from reminding your elected representative why you elected him or her in the first place?
Sure, April 24 is a holiday for voting and we like holidays, but this is a holiday with a purpose. Go early and cast your vote – it hardly takes any time – and you can have the rest of the day to yourself.
‘Kaun vote kare? Sab ek se hain…I like no one.” Don’t say this, please. Go vote. Believe me, you will like the experience.
Dr Pooja Birwatkar is currently pursuing post doctoral research and working in the area of science education. ‘Your Vote’ is a column capturing the Lok Sabha 2014 fervour in Mumbai. If you want to be featured here, write to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Your vote’.
(Pictures courtesy india.blogs.nytimes.com, www.tntmagazine.in. Images are used for representational purpose only)