Desh ka maha त्यौहार
The great festival of the countryElection Commission of India
Slogan for 2019 General Elections
2019 is election year in India. Five years have already passed and the incumbent government’s tenure is coming to an end. The country and her people are set to choose a new government, which will represent their hopes and aspirations for the next five years.
It feels like only yesterday when I was watching the swearing in ceremony of Narendra Modi in 2014 on the television. Apart from that historic moment in India’s history, what left a deeper impact on me was what one of the news anchors was saying as the ceremony went on.
“It is a wonderful sight to witness the transfer of power from one party to another in such a peaceful manner. A sight, which very few countries in the world get the opportunity to enjoy.”
People’s participation is a pillar of any democracy. The democratic system of governance is built on the foundation of the people’s stake in the system through elections. Every citizen of the appropriate age has the right to cast their vote to a representative of their choice.
It is this choice which I would like to talk about today.
Since the last general elections, a large proportion (Some sources say approximately 45 million) of the youth has become eligible to vote. It is that section of the population which will be the deciding factor of this election.
However, I have heard in recent months from quite a few people that voting doesn’t matter. That one person’s vote does not affect the outcome of the elections. It is quite worrisome to hear the faith in our democratic systems diminishing.
It is not a crime to not vote in India. Unlike Australia where voting is compulsory. Every elections, Australia records 96-97% voter turnout. You have to give appropriate justification for not voting, otherwise you can be penalized heavily for it.
We don’t have such a provision in India, largely because our population of 1.3 billion overshadows their meagre population of just 23.2 million (Interesting fact to note is that Australia is 7.7 million square kilometre in geographical extent, whereas India is just 3.2 million square kilometre). Moreover, the Supreme Court of India in 2017 stated that voting is not a fundamental duty and making it compulsory violates Article 21, Right to freedom; a fundamental right in the constitution. Not voting is also considered to be a sign of protest. Protests are one of the visual approvals of the existence of a true democracy.
बूंद-बूंद से सागर भरता है
The ocean is filled with every drop of waterLajpatrai Sabarwal
The interpretation of the hindi proverb given above is that it takes every single drop of water to make a great ocean. Similarly, every vote matters. If 100 people, 1000 people or 10,000 people think that their vote doesn’t matter, then it could gravely impact the larger picture. Candidates win/lose by margins of 1000 to 10,000 votes. These are margins which could have helped the correct candidate to win, had these people gone out to give their vote.
Coming to the question of, ‘right candidate.’ A majority of voters who are unwilling to vote argue that none of the candidates are suitable for the seat they are contesting for. Hence they don’t go out to vote. It is understandable that at times this may be true and this is the major argument as well for 2019 elections.
BJP or Congress? National Democratic Alliance or United Progressive Alliance (or as it is being called now, Mahagathbandhan or Mega Alliance)? Go left or go right? Who is the lesser of the two evils?
When it comes to voting, I implore you not to be swayed by popular moods. Don’t go with the flow and vote for whoever the masses are voting for. Vote for whoever you feel is the correct choice. Vote for whoever you feel is suitable for leading the country. Vote for whoever you feel deserves a chance, or a second chance.
If you are of the opinion that none of the candidates are suitable. Then vote for the third option, none of the above (NOTA). Many people believe that NOTA is equivalent to not voting. While this may be true prima facie. The difference between the ‘not voting‘ and NOTA is that the latter holds the significance of bringing out your opinion into the public. When you vote NOTA, you are letting the political dispensation know that you are unhappy with their methods and that they need to mend their ways.
As stated above, the Supreme Court said that not voting is a sign of protest as well. But when you vote NOTA, you are formalizing this protest as it is going to be recognized and recorded by the government. Isn’t it better to be seen than not be seen?
NOTA secured 1.09% of the total votes in the 2014 General Elections.Election Commission of India
NOTA sends out a stronger message than not voting. It shows that you actually do care about what is going on in your country. That you are not an oblivious, disinterested citizen of this country. You are a watchdog of democracy.
I am not advocating or campaigning for people to go out and vote NOTA. What I am trying to convince to you, the reader, the citizen, is to not be afar from what is going on in the country. Exercise your right. Show your support for what you believe in. Let no one tell you what to do. VOTE for whoever you feel is the correct. Or vote for no one by voting NOTA. But vote. Make the choice India, your time has come.
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