A fervent appeal to the voters of the largest democracy
By  Shimon Chadha | Updated:  Apr 30, 2019, 05:53 PM
The fourth phase of the 17th Lok Sabha elections came to an end yesterday. Spanning 71 seats in 9 states, the lowest voter turnout was recorded yesterday. One wonders why- can it be attributed solely to the six seats of Mumbai, that are infamous for coming out in meagre numbers to exercise their duty, or is there something larger at play here?
If observed closely, one would realize that out of the 71 constituencies which went to poll yesterday, around 35 or more of them were urban developed areas, some notable ones being Jodhpur, Jaipur, Ajmer in Rajasthan, Jabalpur and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, Ujiarpur and Begusarai in Bihar, and, of course, the ten seats in the Mumbai metropolitan region of Maharashtra.
Mumbai, with its 55% voter turnout, was a definite embarrassment to the people of this cosmopolitan and fast-moving city, but it is not the only one to blame. People across the country, living in well-furnished homes, with 24-hour electricity, easy access to water and constant Wi-Fi connection, tend to not fulfill their simple duty to the nation- simply stepping out of their houses and pressing a button.
Ironically, these people are the ones who are the most vocal about their political opinions- with strongly worded posts and videos on social media, and candle light marches and protests against the government. No one is stopping them from expressing their political thoughts and views, and no one can- it is their constitutional right. Voting, on the other hand, is a personal choice- it is not a part of the Fundamental Duties enshrined in the Constitution, and the debate over its inclusion is still ongoing.
However, with the onslaught of political fervour in the country, one would rightly assume that if a person has the time and energy to write a thousand words on Facebook, or organise and attend candlelight marches every two months, the same person would take out two hours to do something that might actually bring about a change in the government, and impact him/her directly.
So what is it, that makes the urban class not go out and vote? What is stopping them from travelling in their lavish cars, to a booth probably not more than 30 minutes away from their home, to get their finger inked? Is it that they are more satisfied with the government? This does not seem the case, considering the “hate speeches” pointing out a flaw in every political outfit and candidate. Is it that they do not have the time? This has already been ruled out, and also adding to this is the fact that 60-70% of India, which lives in villages, travels to faraway booths, leaving their farms, land, and families, to choose their favoured candidate. Then what could possibly be the reason? Reports and surveys point out that they are mostly not inclined to go out, as they “have it all”. It is not something which, they feel, will directly impact them. They believe, that irrespective of whoever wins the seat, they will still own their cars, live in their 40-storeyed buildings, huge mansions, visit the US every year, study in whichever college they wish to, and will secure a safe job and career. Here is the point where their bubble bursts.
A change in government can bring about a change in economy, a change in petrol and land prices, a change in the number of foreign investors to the country, thus impacting the brands and the malls selling bourgeois foreign products around us, a change in the relations with other countries, affecting the kind of places we can visit, and the ease with which we obtain our visas, a change in the forest land and natural surroundings, impacting our health and of those around us, and most importantly, a drastic change in the kind of policies and laws that are implemented, affecting our everyday life, and the basic rights that we enjoy and take for granted.
It has been said before, and needs to be said again. People need to realize, that if they want to have a say in the government’s functioning, they must be a part of the process. It is easier to be a third person, and criticise the system from the outside. But it is so much better and personal, to be an integral part of the change you want to bring about, or, if you don’t want a change, to contribute in continuing the current situation. Just because you have a favourable candidate currently, and do not want a change, does not mean that you do not vote. These elections, which come only twice in a decade, are your best chance of using the system to beat the system, or to uphold the system. Your single vote does not only help a certain candidate secure a seat, it also helps a certain party form a government.
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