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Credits : Mysay.in (Jack)
Credits : Mysay.in (Jack)

High turnout, boycott: Voter’s forceful assertion

|By Anuj Shrivastava|

In less than 6 days from now the nation will know who will form the next government at Centre, the voters’ verdict already being sealed in the EVMs in 502 Lok Sabha constituencies. The sharp rise in polling percentage (an aggregate turnout of 66.27% for 502 seats , over 57.94% in 2009) is being hailed everywhere even as some see in it, a strong desire for change.

No doubt that that this higher voter turnout only goes to show that people still have hopes and faith in democracy, they recognise the value of their voting power and have reaffirmed it strongly. And the reason is that the common man’s life has become difficult. The voter hence could not afford to remain disinterested and disengaged with politics anymore and has realised that it’s better to make a choice than not having one at all.

While poll pundits still calculate and assess voting trends on caste, community lines, voters have been vocal about their hard life, unfulfilled promises and neglect of their needs. There have been a one too many instances of people announcing poll boycott or preferring the NOTA option to vent their ire this election.

Voters of Mundhera in Bharatpur Lok Sabha seat boycotted the poll process over non-availability of road and water. About 1,400 voters registered at the polling station did not cast their votes.

Similarly, over 300 voters from Pippalgaon village in Jainad mandal of Adilabad constituency in Telangana boycotted polling over their long-pending yet-unfulfilled demand for laying a 4-km road connecting their village to the mandal headquarters.

Earlier, a whopping 30,000 voters in Jharkhand had announced to choose the NOTA option to express their anger over no development in their area. These instances of voter discontent, disgruntlement are not unique, there is similar neglect of common man’s hardships across the nation, only the problems, needs differ.

It is clear that the common man is being made to slug it out everywhere, the national capital included.

Just imagine the helplessness felt by the citizens in Delhi where getting a child admitted in nursery class has become a huge daunting task. The row over nursery admissions in Delhi reached the Supreme Court. The bench headed by Justice H.L. Dattu rapped the government and commented, “Parents are spending a lot of money in silly litigation”.

The comment proves that the government cares the least while parents line up in serpentine queues outside public schools in Delhi and other metros. Parents have nowhere else to go as education in government schools is sub-standard and the government does nothing about it.

Just having a Right to Education is not enough when there is huge demand in industry for English-speaking workers. And in making English medium education accessible only for kids of the middle and higher income households are we not increasing inequalities? And then why English should not be a medium of education in government schools as well?

One cannot deny that voters across the country still have very few basic needs: they want good education for their kids, they fall ill and need good healthcare, they want electricity, drinking water, sanitation, good roads. Why can’t there be 24-hour power, motorable roads with no potholes, clean drinking water supply and good sanitation? Why can’t government schools and hospitals be good enough to give private ones a run for their money?

And then to top it all having to deal with the menace of corruption. The moment we think of having to go to a government office for some unavoidable work we shudder within, wary as we are of having to deal with bribe-seeking babus.

But the question is, do political parties have that connect with the masses to know their needs? Are they aware of the common man’s worries, desires?

All political parties, barring the BSP, released their manifestos this time. Price rise, growth, jobs, corruption, infrastructure were common to all manifestos that were hence so similar that the Congress even accused the BJP of copying from its very own released earlier. The fact is voters don’t keep a tab on actions and poll promises made by parties that form the government and this is what needs to change.

The ongoing electoral fight has been intense. It has been a cacophonic poll campaign that has seen most combative of the debates while the ad blitzkrieg has been deafening. What is being forgotten in the fanfare of elections is the fact that there was simmering discontent in masses against steep price rise, graft, women’s safety, non-governance and unemployment.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has admitted that the UPA government failed to gauge the change taking place in 2010 and 2011 — when anti-corruption protests hit the streets of Delhi and elsewhere — and realise the extent of anger that was building up. He added that the election results will be the “product” of those “crucial years”.

The poll results will be interesting and crucial as the voter is now more informed and has become ambitious and more demanding.He has been made to pay more for almost everything since the government slashed subsidies on petrol, diesel, LPG, CNG, electricity and water. With the steep rise in food costs in the last decade, his bill amounts have risen , a part of which goes to government coffers in the form of taxes, duties. The voters hence now want better facilities, easy, secure and safe lives for themselves and their families in return.

The whole nation is looking forward to a new government, expecting that it will bring down shooting prices, stamp down corruption and make life easier. The voters have grown wiser over the time; they want results, better lives, good opportunities. There is no doubt that the government which comes to power this time has to perform.

It is a tough job for Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi or whosoever sits in the PM’s chair. This time there will be no forgiveness for non-performance, and this we all must solemnly swear.

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