Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Year: 2009

Grand Occasion: Lok Sabha Elections

Polling Booth Alotted: 175A

THE STORY SO FAR: Before I begin the new episode of the comedy of errors that is the Indian Democracy, let me run you through a RECAP, a la the saas bahu serials on TV. 2004 elections, we are unable to vote, in spite of being among the tiny minority that actually wants to, because of a royal screw up in the system (the uninitiated please refer to my post THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING POLL BHOOTH on this blog).

Raaz – The Mystery Continues: moving forward. Because of the tragic-comic experience of last time, we take special precautions this year. Four months before the elections, we give a conscientious repeat performance of the standing in line in the hot sun and sweating buckets to make sure names are included in the voters’ list. I provide, yet again, reams of documentary evidence that I am indeed alive, and Indian. I give proof that I am who I say I am, live where I say I live, and look like the image in my mirror. All done, there is some more running around to confirm that the process is done, and that the names are ON THE LIST!!! HALLELUIJAH!!

Come Election Day, this habitual morning hater wakes again at 6.30 am to go and discharge her democratic duty. Pitiful, ignorant, cretin. The allotted booth is 175A this year, and there is a street camp of party workers right outside the gate to guide and help. How nice! Check the lists, fill the chits, yes! We exist! Numbers are given, booth is walking distance away, the day is bright and clear, the birds are singing in the trees, god is presumably in his heaven and everything certainly seems all right with the world!

Arrive at the booth, find your section, stand in line….miracle of miracles!!! There are only three people ahead of me! This is going too smoothly, my mind begins to mutter with misgivings. And my presentiments are soon proved correct. There are four, count them, four officers sitting with polling lists inside the booth. Three of these are apparently merely representatives of the major parties contesting. One, o great and mighty small god of the election, is the SARKARI man, the government official in charge of overseeing things. The three party reps easily locate our names on their lists, which are merely copies of the election roll published by the EC and the government. I am just starting to think that THIS TIME things might just go well, when we come up against the wall!

The SARKARI man does not have us on his list! Now since these lists are supposed to be identical, and all originated from the election commission and the local government, one wonders how that can be. Be that as it may, what is the solution now? Here I am, willing, and eager, to cast my vote. So let me! Nope….no can do. Where is your number? Here it is! On three separate lists! Not good enough madam, it is not on the SARKARI list you see….therefore you do not exist. Please to leave.

On our way out, we run into a contingent of the press come to cover the polling. Major names of TV channels flash from PRESS cars. Good! I think. Some noise can be made about this issue!

Wrong again! All of the reporters we approach, including a well dressed lady from ETV, don’t even bother to listen. Shrug shrug, what do you expect us to do, we are not government officers, we cannot change the rolls! DUH! Did I say I want you to? You are the press. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it your JOB and your RESPONSIBILITY to cover such screw ups, raise these issues, and demand explanations from the incumbents? Not from their behaviour. From their callousness, it is quite clear that they r merely there to do a cosmetic “to apko kaisa lag raha hai” piece of people exiting the polling booth with smile wreathed faces. Grumbles and problems are your problems, not theirs.

As I walk back home I curse myself, yet again for being fool enough to try every time. When will I understand that no one wants me to vote, no matter what Aamir Khan may say on TV?! I am educated, I can think, I am middle class, I don’t have 13 kids, and I don’t vote for the candidate who gives me chicken biryani and a paowa on the eve of battle! I am disqualified in every way from being the ideal Indian voter. The smart thing would be to give up the attempt altogether. However, I AM educated, and I DO have a conscience. So I try, every time, and fail. Then I can peacefully go back home, with no self recrimination, to enjoy a free holiday as 70% of India does on Election Day! “Tell them I came…. And no one answered….that I kept my word….”

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