It says here that proxy-voting in India came into being on September 2, 2003 wherein India joined the elite group of countries that enabled soldiers/Jawans at the borders or active duty to nominate a person to vote on his behalf. With more than 1,130,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,800,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world’s second largest and enabling proxy voting for these spirited individuals made sense.But what the Election Commission fails to grasp is the intellectual capacity of Indian citizens. The novel idea of proxy-voting that it had given green signal to has been going on for years at end in parts of India one would consider to be backward and unassuming. The fact that proxy voting was carried on without the prior approval of the voter to be ‘proxied’ as also his not being an Indian Soldier does not mean the right in itself is over-stressed. What it does signify is the superior intellectual development of these intricately developed humanoids.
On 23rd April, my home-town Giridih went for elections. As many as 17 candidates pushed their claim for the coveted seat. In the ’04 elections JMM had won the seat by a margin that would have put even Narendra Modi to shame. 50% voting for one person while the rest was divided amongst the remaining 8. I was not that much into elections at that time and had things more pressing on my mind back then. This time though, I wanted to be involved. I could not vote mainly due to my inability to secure me a voter card (a big issue here) as also my absence from Giridih. Yet, being a concerned and caring citizen I enquired my parents of the same and was astounded at what i heard from them. The election process officially terminates at 3 pm and no voting can be entertained after that. Although I had heard somewhere that somewhere in Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency, Hyderabad, the polling continued right upto 7 pm mainly due to the large voter turnout and the long winding queue outside the election booth.
This was not so in this obscure shanty little town of Giridih,where thanks partly to the relative misguidance and partly to lethargy, the voter turnout was (in reality) abysmal(no official stats available). Yet, you might wonder, how is it that all the major booth in the region recorded a robust 80% turnout in the first phase of elections? I will let you in on one awesome secret. Since it was 2 pm and no more voters were expected with just an hour to go, the election commission authorities took to themselves the “Responsibility” of appearing as proxies for those mean citizens who gave this big dramatic farce a let go. So much so, that inspite of not one member of my family ever being 100 metres near the booth, their votes were registered and accounted for.
Hell, no ink marks? What a shame!
When my Dad enquired about the novel act he was cold shouldered and asked to become a proxy for another member of the clan if he was so hell-bent on voting. So much for the idea of having a say in these cold times. Add to that the conspicuous absence of required number of Election officials and Indian Police at the venue. No wonder in these parts of the country people never pass a fractured mandate and choose unanimously the worst of the lot to carry out in the worst possible way the duties enshrined in the constitution of India. Proxy voting? Hell, we have been doing that for a long time now. We don’t need no official proclaimation to do what we see right and fair. Junta hai bhaai, we do what we want to do ‘with or without you’.
Internet has revolutionised the phenomena of public participation in the big fat Indian elections. We now see spirited individuals commenting on national issues, on ‘national’ politicians, on ‘personal’ development, on the ‘sad’ state of Indian electoral list and what not. The social media now has turned head over heels with the great Dance of Democracy as TOI likes to put it. We see FaceBook, Twitter, Orkut etc getting filled up with concerned citizens voicing their opinions on anything and everything that needs to be put out there. All roads to a mature democracy eh? It would have been if the ground realities would have changed alongwith the virtual awakening. The Great Digital Divide again strikes back. While we see enlightened folks dishing out words of wisdom for anyone willing to lend an ear, we also see our politicians retort and retort back amongst themselves, while we skim through Election manifestoes, Mayawati proudly denounces the importance of even having one!
Interestingly, inspite of contesting for as many as 500 constituencies BSP hands out flyers proclaiming the importance of giving free reigns to dalits and whoever votes for her and declines to come out with Election Manifestoes. Why do we need them? -she says. We won Assembly Elections in 2008 without them didn’t we. “See, our vote bank comprises of people who vote for reservations and discriminations. These are people for whom manifestoes would be what computers are to mankind, total shit man!”- she goes again. I am totally fascinated by the idea of the Third Front becoming a front-runner in the present elections. The inability of India to cast a powerful mandate for any of the two national parties and the continuous rise of regional political parties astound my sensibilities and tickle it in more ways than one. The mere rumour of Mayawati contesting for the ‘kursi’ of the perime meenisther, I shit you not, makes me puke. (not of the Deluxe Oxford Hardbound variety, more like the Smirnoff/RC/Antiquity variety).