An ode to vote

For me, NOTA is not an option howsoever ugly the credentials of the candidates. Yet, I welcome NOTA because it was introduced with the honourable motive of bringing disillusioned voters to the booth. And its ‘success’ is visible in the increased polling percentage. So, even if it is only NOTA, VOTE WE MUST.

The pollscape may be infested by authentic idiots and certified nuts, street-smart scum and scientific scamsters, murderers and mafia dons, rapists, rioters and rascals of all hue,  sots and stupids,  bigots and bullies … indeed the parade is painful. It is not difficult to spot them, though. So to vote them out, VOTE WE MUST.

For many, elections have become a pointless game of musical chair. It is the same faces and parties for far too long. NDA or UPA with their common denominator of all-weather allies. Or DMK or AIADMK with or without J & K. Indeed, over the last three decades, change has only led to status quo. But still, VOTE WE MUST.

It is possible that in the prevalent, perverted first-past-the-post system, the most hated character with more than even 75 per cent against him/her will still win because of a many-way split in opposing votes. Such a winner by no stretch of imagination can truly be called a people’s rep. Yet, no grumbling, VOTE WE MUST.

We were promised a welfare State. What we got is a beggar State. We were promised jobs to earn a living. Today, we are offered money without working. Freebies, of even hard cash, are not a matter for shame but a right of the receiver. So what? VOTE WE MUST.

No doubt, we have been made beggars. And, as we know, beggars can’t be choosers. But this is poll time and the cliche can be reversed. A rare opportunity. So, let’s choose from amongst the bevy of beggars. They badly need our helping hand, index finger, to be precise. So with a smirk, VOTE WE MUST.

I say this to the poor souls for whom decades on gharibi has not been hataoed (apologies to Thangkabalu). Spare no sympathy for the hardcore political campaigner roiling in heat now, for he conducts his business, official and unofficial, in cool comfort under State protection in power times. After all, for them this is a once-in-five-year, and a lucrative one at that, effort. Whereas for you, the mobilised masses who burn midnight oil to earn a paltry living and then burn in daylight sun for often petty payback, it is still a worthy toil. B’cos no one tells you and nor are you aware that you are kingmakers. You have unfailingly voted and tell yourself again, despite your enduring plight and blight, VOTE WE MUST.

Have you taken money to vote? Did you deem a freebie an incentive to vote? In that case, as a quid pro quo, as befits an honest citizen, VOTE WE MUST.

And in case you have not availed of what was on offer, in cash or kind, and exercised appreciable restraint, then still as an honest citizen, VOTE WE MUST.

And if much to your misfortune, you expected or desperately wanted to have a few crisp Gandhian specials on your palm but somehow missed out or was overlooked, don’t despair. There will always be another poll. Display the familiar sour grapes syndrome, gather such other unlucky ones and together declare VOTE WE MUST.

Virgin voters and those in their 20’s and 30’s who constitute much of the demography and who can, therefore, change the face of this democracy must first get wise to the viles of the present political and poll system as well as the politicos who dominate and dictate it. The nation’s future and character is at a threshold and they can make all the difference. And so, in one voice, they must say VOTE WE MUST.

The middle-classes, an amorphous jelly in the populace that defy definition, are often accused of being apathetic or at least a bit tentative when it comes to taking the short walk to the booth. But economic policies from fiscal deficit to simple matters like home loan rate cut affect them a lot. Tax provisions pinch the pockets of these penny-pinching householders the most. World over, in mature democracies, it is such micro economics that determine the course of politics and governance. This huge and ever-expanding mass must shed their cultivated indifference to such pertinent issues as well as the familiar drawing room, armchair, TV-instigated dumbness and pep themselves up to say VOTE WE MUST.

Ignore the terrorists, the Maoists and particularly the cynics (fine, I am aware of the three fingers pointing inward) and all sundry spoilsports. For all the threats and negativity, this is one democratic karmic duty we should perform as a tribute to the nation and its Constitution. So, let’s brave the odds and VOTE WE MUST.

Lakhs of government employees, paramilitary forces, teachers and education administrators and volunteers from many walks of life are working night and day to enable this massive democratic mela. District collectors and electoral officers have taken a vow to ensure maximum polling in their respective areas. Activists and thousands of private organisations, from petty shops to high-fliers, are exhorting and incentivising in novel ways to make people keep the appointment on the decisive V-day. Indeed, if not for anything, at least to recognise the effort and energy of these exemplary enthusiasts who have embarked on a seemingly thankless exercise, VOTE WE MUST.

No longer should the non-voter decide the country’s fate by default. A voting percentage of 80-plus – wishful but not impossible – can change the face of our democracy and usher fresh faces for the future. Also, if we don’t like any of the present party or politico, still go to the booth and press any damn button other than the familiar symbols you detest and get out fast. Be at peace that the anarchy that emerges, engineered by the likes of you, would herald the end of the entrenched. So, please think that the unknown devil is better than the known ones and your credo should be VOTE WE MUST.

Man is a political animal. Animals have to make noise. Even if there is no reason to do so. The vote is our voice even if there is no choice. So, VOTE WE MUST.

The ink on the index finger is one black mark that we actually can be proud of, so VOTE WE MUST.

Hope sustains humanity. Lest we lose our touch if at all Utopia arrives, VOTE WE MUST.

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Jawahar T R