Confessions of a first timer!
“First time?? Are you serious?? You are 35, right?” – this was the response from almost all of them when I mentioned about my interest in voting this time. Quite natural for them to feel that way considering the fact that I go on and on about the lack of basic civic sense amongst us Indians. In my defense, I was never around in my native during the elections. And, if I am not wrong, this is the first time it’s happening on a Monday so that I could go home for an extended weekend. But to think of it, that’s not all. I think I am finally growing up 🙂 Politics and sports are two areas where I never showed any interest in the past. Sports is still nowhere close, but thanks to the social media and the news coverage these days, politics has been really intriguing.
The scene is a little funny here in Kerala; we have never had the same government for more than 5 years; atleast for a couple of decades. We, Keralites, are so generous that we give both the leading parties, the UDF (Congress) and the LDF (CPIM), equal opportunities to take advantage of us. Oh, BJP is a pretty new entrant here, having said that, it would be interesting to see how far the Lotus will be allowed to bloom.
The day I told my brother that I was going to vote this time, he asked me a very simple question, “so, whom are you going to vote?” I guess,I was just excited by the fact that I am finally going to vote and never actually thought to whom I should give it. To start with, I do not follow any specific ideology. My dad and his family are staunch communists, whereas my mom and her family are congress followers. I can’t deny the fact that there is a communist or a socialist in me; it could be the genes or the kind of values that were instilled during my upbringing. However, I would not leave my current way of living to be one of them and it would only make me a bourgeoisie if I said I am a communist. Most of the arm chair communists or today’s social media communists and even some of the leaders today fall under the bourgeoisie category, but yeah, they are never going to agree to this.
I am not religiously inclined either to make a blind choice. Religion was never part of our homes, not even today. So supporting a fascist party is again a no-no for me. Oh God, they might ban me or brand me anti-national for writing this. Or even worse, put me behind bars for a while and make me a national hero! I do respect the PM and his various initiatives for growth, but I hope he kept his bandar-log in check and asked them not to get touchy on really trivial issues. The only other party left is the UDF (how ironic is that sentence). UDF, or Congress, in Kerala is a mess. What am I saying ! Congress as a whole is a huge mess. I really don’t understand what people see in them to cast their votes. As a saying in Malayalam goes, it’s like giving the keys to your house to the best burglar around. And over here, it is like asking the burglar to stay around for a while, take bath, have dinner and get a good sleep. Of course, they did bring development to Kerala in the last 5 years in spite of all the opposition they faced from ‘Left’, Right and ‘Center’ (and I mean, literally). But none of us can forget the scams that had come out in the open. Some of them are yet to be proved, but yeah, we know what the Congress is capable of, don’t we ? 😛 😛
So, the obvious choice for me was to support LDF, or the Communist party. But they lost all my respect in the last two years by stooping to the worst levels possible. Allegations that involve a moral less woman and her connection with the CM who must be her dads age, and constantly dragging his name with cheap innuendos, is totally uncalled for. If this is how you want to develop a good will amongst the public, sorry guys, you just lost a couple of votes for being obnoxious. These baseless distasteful accusations and their desperate attempts for attention by opposing any new initiative put forward by the ruling party made me realize that these aren’t the people I need to get associated with. Also, nothing wrong in working for the down trodden, but that doesn’t mean you shun any development for the people in the upper strata. Come on, they are tax paying citizens too. And, like I mentioned earlier, they have had their share of governance after every 5 years; the poor has always remained poor. Even if they got continuous governance, I am not sure if it would make any difference. A good example we have is West Bengal, where they were in power for more than 30 years continuously, after which they lost pathetically to Trinamool Congress. Oh, speaking of West Bengal, we know what happened to both the parties there. If Guinness Book of Records had a category for shamelessness, those guys would win it hands down. So, two parties who are arch rivals here in Kerala, are brothers in arms in a state that is normally considered as a cousin of Kerala. I realised politics doesn’t have any friend or foe, only a bunch of idiots as blind supporters.
The campaigns, this time, were so in your face and to be honest, a little annoying. I don’t see any opposition party going out of their way and getting a bus shed built or a public toilet or doing anything that could be a little helpful without expecting anything in return, not even votes. The money that each of the political parties had spent in the last few weeks in the name of elections could have been used for any of the right causes and that itself would’ve been the best campaign for them. Also, commotion is not campaigning; many a times we, the public, are at the receiving end of these campaigns. When the end objective is to serve the public, it doesn’t really make sense when the same public is getting infuriated with your campaigns.
So back to that simple question, whom do I vote? My decision has to be solely based on the individual and not a party. And, for this, I have to understand the candidates, their background, their election manifestos or what have they done so far for their constituency. I did check with my dad and also did a little bit of research myself, but was still indecisive. During this period, friends and really close relatives started influencing me to vote for their desired party. Nobody knew who was standing and what he/she represents; all they cared for was the party. Even if they had criminal background, it was fine with them and this logic was too dim-witted for my understanding. It’s not that I have too many choices, but each time I thought about my own reasoning of forget the party and vote for the individual, the party did come in between.
And, trust me this thought kept disturbing me until I went inside the polling booth. The officials took my ID card and verified, inked my finger and asked me to proceed to the booth. I saw the three options in front of me now – the Sickle, the Palm and the Lotus. In addition to that, there were three other options too – two independent candidates, I guess, and the option of NOTA (None Of The Above). Why would people click on NOTA, I thought – is it when they are indecisive, like me, or is it when you have no hopes or regards on the candidates who are contesting? I couldn’t stay longer there; people are waiting to ‘exercise their right’. The mind started playing again, but I let my brain take over the heart for a change, and I finally pressed on the option I felt best.
By the end of today, we will know who is going to govern Kerala for the next couple of years. Fingers crossed! I exercised my right alright, but I am still not sure if I did the right thing. This inner voice, it keeps telling me that I have not wasted my vote. But why did it turn out so challenging? Would it have been this difficult if I had a good choice? Or, atleast, a better one?