Confessions of a voter

The ominous 13th of May beckons the players of the Indian Political League. As a photofinish finale to the poll rat-race looms, the TN voter, the last among equals, readies himself to perform his democratic karma. The tiresome trudge to the booth, the endless wait in meandering queues and the prospect of missing from the voters’ list are but minor troubles in comparison to the ardous task of deciding on the candidate to vote for. So here’s is a user’s guide to add to the confusion over choices and compulsions! And lest I am misunderstood, the surfeit of ‘I’s include many of you, if not all!

I am truly at wit’s end. To vote or not to vote is no longer the question. I will, if only to prove that the grainy photo on that voter ID is me; not that otherwise I am a visual delight, but should not an ID actually identify? And I am not even talking of the printers’ devils, besides the one on that grainy photo, that either double your age, or put you in your neighbour house or mis-spell your hard earned cradle name or the numerologically certified one, which is even worse. And vote I will, even if I am yet to receive those crisp Re 500 notes that nocturnal visitors are dispensing to all and sundry, across communal, caste or class divides. And last, I have no intention of outsourcing this particular job even though there are a number of political activists eager to play my doupe.

So with the dilemma of ‘to vote or not’ becoming a non-issue, the real issues stare: Who and for what. For what, first. If stability, security, secularism, solvency and sleaze are the macro issues, all parties are almost on a level playing field. The difference is in the degree, not in the direction. And that makes me a split personality when it comes to choice. And this split no doubt reflects in the larger fractured verdict; it does not need psephological insight or prime time punditry to predict this inevitable outcome. Single largest parties are passe. Even single largest alliances fall short by around 100. And even these alliances are fragile with post poll pulls likely to scatter them even more. So with the two ‘national’ parties, Cong and BJP, struggling between 140 and 150 apiece, the fight between them looks to be for the opposition slot! Given that, for the two parties to be debating the prospects of their respective PM aspirants, namely, MSingh and Advani, is a presumptuous exercise in self-delusion.

If still, some substance is to be attributed to this shadow-show, what are the options? To me, a Congress under Sonia, her family and their extended or escaped families, is most repulsive. A nation under her rule, in person or by proxy, causes a serious identiy crisis in me,worse than that wrought by my grainy ID card. I yearn for PVN, despite his pout. But since the Insider is no longer in circulation, the BJP by default becomes an obvious choice. But LKA, with more years behind than ahead, causes another identity crises, one of compatibility with the future. Indeed, the BJP will have to wait a bit longer for my vote and that too is conditional on the party slipping out of the geriatric grip and on the assumption that the Cong will never come off the grip of the spurious Gandhis!

Moving from the national to the rational, I as a TN voter have graver concerns. Dumping Cong and BJP leaves me at the mercy of Anna’s offshoots, plus the latest celluloid import. But V’Kanth is more a party popper for the two Kazhagams and is not in my reckoning, not at least for this LS polls. The Left in TN is always a fellow traveller on some bandwagon or other and in any case, the comrades do not inspire me with their suspect secularism that sullies Bharat’s soul and a sordid socialism that seems to have a vested interest in sustaining squalour. The DMK, AIADMK and their allies have been everywhere and with everyone in the last decade and a half of coalition politics. They buy your vote cheap and trade it in Delhi for higher stakes. Over the years, they have learned to appreciate the advantages of aligning with the once-despised Aryans. Indeed, a vote for them is at once a vote for the politics of promiscuity, politics of blackmail and politics of self-aggrandisement.

But vote, I must, despite the bewildering array of unworthy aspirants. So here is some more grist. Many still fancy a US-like two party system at the national level, but that’s now impossible given the mushrooming and worse, success, of many regional parties. Dubbing this as a manifestation of federalism is as much a lie as the so-called national outlook of national parties: On the contrary, these lofty themes are camouflages for entrenched political interests and ill gotten wealth: Swiss Banks’ swindlers list alone comes to Rs 64 lakh crores and that’s excluding the paltry 64 crores of Q’s Bofors booty.
Barring the BJP and the Left where the primacy of the party is still largely intact, with the rest, personalities, be it Sonia, Lalu, or K, J or Maya, Mulayam, or Gowda, Pawar or Chautala, Abdullah, supercede the parties. The leader’s interest is the party interest. His or her preservation is paramount. Followed by their progeny’s; K’s family alone has three ministerial candidates! And naturally, the MPs of these parties serve the leaders who chose them, and then themselves, rather than the masses who voted them, vitiating their very status as people’s representatives. And this happens with the unwitting connivance of the voter, that indelible black mark acting as a tell tale sign of the sin. Indeed, the nation’s salvation lies in the obliteration of such feudal fiefdoms and family mafias that masquerade as political parties.

And it’s possible. The Constitution does not recognise a political party. The phrase hardly appears in that tome. It only says that the person (not party leader) who has the support of the maximum number of legislators can become the PM or CM. In fact, the party-system as it stands today, with official whips and unofficial suitcases, is a direct interference, nay, an assault on people’s representation which is the corner stone of Parliamentary democracy as upheld by the Constitution. The solution therefore lies in electing representatives, wherever possible, who have no party affiliations, particularly to the familiar, long-standing pocket parties. Assuming the polling percentage is 60, imagine the change if the disinterested or disillusioned 40 were to plump for such candidates! It is not a waste of vote, as some would aver. On the contrary, the gains are many: such a course would gradually encourage people with good public record to jump into the fray, control poll expenses which are at the root of political corruption and above all free me from the clutches of pompous personalities who believe it is my duty to protect, perpetuate and pamper them and their birthright to plunder me.

Baalus, Dayanidhis, J’s stooges and Ramadoss’s minions have had their fill. Chennai, this time, has some good samaritans in its arena. My choice is going to be one among them. Now, does ‘me’ mean You?

e-mail the writer at [email protected]

Jawahar T R