Who are we really to blame for all that is wrong with our country and politics? It is the people’s fault up to this point and only we can bring about change. Here’s a guide to exercising your right to vote sensibly and correctly.

Who is responsible for the corruption in the country? Who should we blame for the economical distress? Whom should we question for the political inefficiency in the parliament? Who is actually capable of bringing change?

The answer to these questions is ‘People’. Yes, we, ‘common people’, are responsible for the increase in corruption in the country, we should blame ourselves for the economical distress in the country and we should question ourselves for the political inefficiency too. It is because we are not utilizing our Right to Vote in the correct way. We are electing inefficient candidates to represent us at the central or state level and by doing so we are killing the development of society. We are directly responsible for the present situation in the country and for the problems faced by us in day-to-day life.

training polling officials 2014 Your Guide To Fighting for Change

Government servants attend a training session on handling of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) ahead of 2014 General Elections in Panaji on March 19, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

I really couldn’t understand the reason behind this. Is it because of the ignorance of the people? Or are they not interested in the politics and development of the country?

Seriously, ignorance cannot be the reason. Our literacy rate increased from 12% to 74.04% since independence; even illiterates know about the political aspects in India, everyone knows how corrupted our system is and how corrupt leaders are exploiting us. Every citizen, no matter from urban or rural background, literate or illiterate, knows about the development in his/her locality and the facilities they are getting from their governments. It is not considering education we have given right to vote; it is given based on the mental maturity (18 years above).

Coming to the second reason-‘Uninterested’? If that is the reason then why are we raising our voice against the leaders and political parties? Why are we complaining about the development?

So it is clear that people are not ignorant and are interested in political aspects.

Then what’s happening in India?

It is because of the typical state of mind of Indians that is helping the inefficient leaders to get into power. Let me explain this through a funny post I saw on a Facebook page long ago.

Whenever we go to a vegetable market we search for fresh vegetables; we won’t buy stale vegetables. If we cannot find fresh vegetables, we will go to some other market or at least we will come again to purchase fresh ones. We won’t compromise our health by buying those stale vegetable as there’s no fresh stock. And we won’t even abandon vegetables thinking that there will never be fresh vegetables available in the market and starve.

But coming to politics people are of the opinion, “Okay, so every politician is corrupt; let us choose someone who is less corrupt.” Some set of people are of the opinion, “Everyone is corrupt, so why should we elect them at all? Let’s not vote at all.”

This state of mind brought us to face these chaotic situations. We won’t compromise on our health by buying stale vegetables but we are not bothered in doing so even knowing that nation will suffer because of us choosing the inefficient leaders. And not casting our vote is also a serious blow to the country because that is also a plus point for those corrupt politicians; they may do rigging and it may also help them in less opposing votes. There are no less corrupt politicians or more corrupt politicians; they do corruption to the maximum extent they are capable of. So if we give power to those less corrupted leaders means we are giving them chance to increase the extent of corruption they can do. The first thing they do is to cover up the corruption they did and reduce the opposition voice against them by various illegal means other than working on the development.

What are we doing actually? (Most of the voters)

Not casting vote but criticizing the political system and politicians.

In my childhood I used to think that voting was a waste of time because my father never cast his vote and used to blame the system and politicians for poor development, lack of facilities for the people, and even comment (abuse will be the right word) every politician whenever he/she appeared on news channels, papers and campaigning- even newcomers in politics. Seeing all this, I too thought in the same way regarding politics and the right to vote. But later I realized the value of voting and the responsibility we have when we want a better society. This is observed in many cases; parent’s thoughts might reflect on their children no matter whether it is regarding not casting the vote or following a corrupt leader or an inefficient one. Another reason is due to lack of knowledge regarding politics in youth (18-21 years). Some students don’t even have voter cards.

Selling Our Vote

It is a common practice for the politicians and political parties to give bribes to people for their valuable vote by means of money and lavish things like sarees to ladies, liquor to men, cricket kits to youth and other privileges to youth leaders. They mainly do such things in rural regions and slums and lower middle class areas in urban regions. I never understand why people in these segments accept their bribes; don’t they realize the fact that they are not developing because of such politicians and political parties. Why cannot they realize the truth behind politicians giving bribes for votes? If they really want to give selfless service to people why will they choose illegal means to acquire votes? Won’t they try to earn what they spent in elections? Why cannot common people get this logic?

Obsessed with Caste, Religion, Region

These types of obsessions will cause a hindrance to integrity among people; you may tilt towards some political party or politician based on some factors as mentioned and because of these obsessions you may start criticizing other candidates in order to support your candidate other than taking his policies into account. And what if the other person wins the election? Won’t he/she avenge you or your community? These obsessions are more in the youth because of lack of outlook, blindly following someone from his caste, religion or region. We can see them more in fan followers of film stars- they are more interested in abusing other heroes than praising their favorite heroes. The same is happening in the political area also. Even adults are no exception regarding these obsessions.

What We Can Do

  • Increase the voting percentage, feel responsible and tell our family members to cast their vote. Improve political outlook in ourselves and mainly in the youth by discussing the political aspects with friends, people while travelling, exchange ideas and thoughts regarding the system and candidates. Going through various articles in blogs which will get us close to different perspectives of people other than sticking to some biased or paid media. Many youngsters are settled away from their native places who can’t cast their vote because of time factor should think once- aren’t we supposed to feel responsible for our society? Because not casting our vote now may make the present situation even worse. After all, if you cannot buy a house in your native place because of uncontrolled land prices, your parents and relatives will suffer. You can take a leave to cast your vote by which you can also have some leisure in your daily life and can meet your relatives. We can also search for good leaders who are contesting as independents. If at all we are not satisfied with candidates then use the NOTA, at least by that we can show our dissatisfaction towards the candidature of the political parties.
  • An amount 500 or 1000 rupees now might give you a relaxation for a couple of days, but what about the losses you have to bear till the next elections. Have guts to cast your vote without taking money. If at all you want all those bribes at least take them from the corrupt and vote for a good leader. Even then the politicians will realize it is waste bribing and may concentrate on clean politics.
  • Come out of the caste based, religion based and region based politics and ideas. We were born humans not Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc. We are raised with castes, religions and regions. What if a Hindu is raised by a Muslim family, he will grow as Muslim only and he will never know that his true parents are Hindus unless someone tells him. So promote secularism and think beyond these obsessions in choosing a right leader.

Some Other Things to Do

  • Question the leaders in public meetings conducted by them during campaigns. Tell them your problems; ask them how they will solve those problems. Why are we supposed to listen all those hours standing under sun about their boasting and abusive comments on other parties? Why shouldn’t we talk in those meetings?
  • Protest about the previous policies and promises made by the candidates representing the constituencies and also the then opposing candidates about their involvement in questioning the elected politicians during the five years.
  • Know about the candidate history, party’s manifesto, their policies and how they are going to implement all promises. Don’t fall for false promises and exaggerations of the political parties or leaders. Reject such candidates.
  • Ask the candidates to reveal the details of the fund raisers of their party because big corporate houses and industrialists donate their black money in order to ensure government policies favor them.
  • Maintain synchronization between youth and elders, exchange ideas- this helps in knowing better. Experience with innovation will be more productive.

What people should observe in a political party?

  • Abusive campaigning: A political party shouldn’t abuse other parties. There’s no wrong in pointing their inability and inefficiency during their term but going beyond that is not tolerable.
  • Eager to get the throne: If at all a party wants to develop the country or region and improve the lives of the people then they should work on those things rather than aspiring for power only. How can they say that their party only can develop the region and all other parties are not capable of doing so?
  • Parties repeating the same statements to deviate or create a dilemma in voters.

Parties with the above qualities are not fit to serve people. They should be confined to a set of ethics and ideology. People should choose a political party which can show a difference in their functioning, how they understand the problems and their plan of action to solve the problems.

Why should we risk our future and our children’s future by misusing our rights? Is it impossible to find genuine leaders who work for people?

Let’s end this tradition of giving power to the corrupt. Aren’t we vexed by the old faces (inefficient and corrupt) in politics? Why cannot we give a chance to fresh faces in our political system for a better society?

I came up with all those views because of my exposure to our state politics. Let me tell my perception of the political scenario in our state, Andhra Pradesh.

telangana protest Your Guide To Fighting for Change

Samaikyandhra supporters demonstrate during a bandh called to protest against passage of Telangana Bill in the Lok Sabha, in Tirupati of Andhra Pradesh`s Chittoor district on Feb.19, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

The state has been divided into two states- Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra). Every political party in Telangana wants to take the entire credit of the Telangana formation. On the other hand, every political party in residual Andhra Pradesh wants to blame other parties for the state division. Forget about regional parties- even parties which are in both states (now) are also not standing on a single statement. Congress party and Telugu Desam Party also saying the same thing in their respective regions as mentioned above. Mr. Nara Chandra Babu Naidu the president of TDP and also the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh taking dual sides condemns the division in residual Andhra Pradesh and in Telangana, boasts about his letter to the central government which resulted in the formation of Telangana. Do these political parties think that people don’t know what they are saying in other regions? Why cannot they come and take a single stand in both regions and go for the elections?

Regional parties like Telangana Rastra Samithi are also eager to form the government in Telangana by criticizing other parties and the leaders of this party are already disturbing the integrity by making statements against the Seemandhra people residing there in Hyderabad. Why cannot they concentrate on the overall development other than bothering about people working Hyderabad? And a million dollar question to me was what they did to the constituencies which elected them other than fighting for Telangana, why couldn’t they develop those regions from the funds they got? And coming to the politicians from residual Andhra Pradesh who are agitating against the division claiming that without any developed region like Hyderabad or at least one third of that city, how can we build our capital and develop our state; what did they do all these years? Why didn’t they foresee the consequences and strive for the development of Seemandhra? On the other hand, Jai Samikyandhra Party, instead of promising to people in residual Andhra Pradesh that they will stop the bifurcation, why cannot they concentrate on how they can develop the state and how they can reduce the instability and insecure feelings of the people?

YSRCP, led by Mr. Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, are already facing various problems inside the party itself and couldn’t succeed in keeping people’s faith in them. They even boast of themselves through their own media. (Go through the panchayat election results data). National parties like BJP, CPI and CPI-M have very less charisma in regional politics. Now BJP can get better attention because of the Modi effect and support from the regional parties. The TDP which is in opposition for the last ten years revolting against the Congress government and its leaders on various issues like inefficient ruling, corruption etc. are now giving place to those same Congress leaders in its party and praising them. How come it is losing its self-respect?

Knowing all this, people still vote for them, giving them the power to rule over us. Why? Didn’t they fail us?

And coming to the common man party like Lok Satta, it should concentrate in increasing its vote bank and should work on getting people’s confidence in its leaders overall. They should give simple and reliable solutions to major problems in the states they couldn’t get the confidence of people. And the newly formed Pawan Kalyan’s Janasena which has acquired huge attention during the formation has yet to open up on its agenda, functioning and contesting the elections. It has to hurry up the process because it has got very less time to prepare. It has to be clear on fighting against the Congress government because it is not the government that went wrong; it is the political system that is on the wrong track. There will be no use in joining hands with other corrupt parties just to face the Congress in both states (rumors regarding the support extended to TDP). What is the need to establish a party when you are ready to work with some other party?

As for the first time, I am going to cast my vote in the near elections for the state and central (also municipality) elections, I want to consider all the contestants from my constituency, their party’s policy, history and their credibility and choose someone who is worthy and efficient in representing the people.

By M.S. Sridhar

Also See:
A Need for the End of Governments Determined By Parties
2014 elections: Can people wrest the electoral agenda?

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